The Complete Guide To Types of Succulents
MAY 31, 2022
Have you just bought your first succulent? Are you experienced with several cactus varieties but need some help on a new purchase? Well, we have the complete guide to succulent care and succulent information.
If you want to learn about cactus varieties, succulents, what to expect when caring for these plants, and much more, Lula’s Garden is the place for you. Cacti and succulent care are simple with the proper research. Care is largely determined by the type of succulent. Start learning today!
So Much Variety
Succulent plants and cacti come in a wide variety. There are so many different features and characteristics that make each plant unique. This allows for whichever succulent plant you purchase to bring its own sort of personality to your indoor or outdoor decor. There are endless appearances to choose from, plants that belong outdoors, and plants that thrive as the perfect houseplant.
Serving Up Unique Looks
Succulent plants have many unique features that set them apart from the rest of the plant kingdom. Ranging in the type of succulent to cacti, there is a whole world of options to explore.
Here are some unique succulent traits to explore that fit your particular plant style.
Blooms: Bright blooms, small clusters, and perennials
Stems: Size and texture
Rosettes: Size, color, and patterns
Leaves: Leaf thickness, shape, or fleshy leaves
Color: Plants that offer you a variety of color choices ranging from bright greens, deep purples, light pinks, silver-blue, and much more.
Size: Some succulent varieties can grow as tall as six feet, while others spread along the ground.
Location: If you want an addition to your rock garden, there is a plant for that! If you want small plants to sit in customized pots on your shelf, there are also options for that.
Succulents and cacti offer so many different traits that are sure to fit the exact look you are going for. Blooms come in a wide variety of colors. The plants themselves come in endless shades of green. There are plants to fit the climate you are in, the garden you started, or as an indoor plant statement piece. The opportunities for unique decor and personalized style interests seem to never end.
Succulents From All Over the World
If you own a succulent or a cactus, odds are you are owning a plant that is native to some of the most fascinating parts of the world. A large reason as to why there is so much variety within the cacti and succulent families is due to their origins. With a presence in almost every country, you are sure to find unique features within these plants.
Some of the most interesting locations include Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Asia, Egypt, South America, Central America, Mexico (in the desert and the mountains), Canada, the United States (California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts), Africa, and Australia.
These plants are prominent in so many places all over the world. The coolest part is that a plant as unique as the succulent can be yours so easily. Lula’s Garden offers immaculate succulent gardens that are perfect for decor at home or corporate gifting.
Outdoor Succulents and Cacti
A wonderful feature of succulent varieties is that they can be beautiful outdoor plants. You can find a succulent or cacti in an outdoor rock garden, on a shaded patio, or planted right in the middle of your yard. Outdoor succulents and cacti require different types of maintenance and care. It is important to know whether your plant is meant to be an indoor or outdoor plant.
Agave is one of the most unique and popular outdoor succulent varieties to own. They consist of fleshy leaves with spiny tips at the end. They are native to many desert climates. Some desert locations include South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Southwest United States.
Agave is such a cool plant to have outdoors. With ample space and good care, agave plants can reach up to 10 feet in height. They come in a variety of colors. These colors can range from blue, silver-blue, gray, or blue-green.
The agave also produces gorgeous blooms. These flowers are often bell-shaped and can come in a bright yellow or white color.
The agave plant lives for many years. Some varieties live for several decades.
There are several agave species that are incredibly popular. One of the more popular outdoor varieties is the whale’s tongue agave. Also known as the agave ovatifolia, the whale’s tongue agave makes an excellent addition to any outdoor space.
The whale’s tongue agave is characterized in many ways:
- This succulent is native to Mexico
- The whale’s tongue agave is identified by its large, wide, dark, and flat green leaves
- The tips of its leaves are sharp
- This agave loves bright light
The agave is such a fun outdoor plant! It is so easy to care for and highly recommended for your yard or garden.
The aloe vera is another popular succulent variety. This plant, however, can also serve as a houseplant. Nonetheless, it is known to thrive outdoors.
This succulent plant is very easy to care for. The aloe vera does not need excessive watering or attention. It thrives with low-maintenance care. Simply water your aloe plant when the soil is dry.
A unique feature of aloe vera plants is their healing properties. Aloe vera has a gel within its leaves that is known to relieve sunburns, skin irritations, or any other type of burn. Simply break off the leaf and cut it open. Remove the gel and put it right onto the location that is in need of assistance. This property makes the aloe vera a very unique plant!
You can identify an aloe vera simply. Aloe has longer leaves that come to a rounded point. These leaves are typically plump and a beautiful shade of green. The edges of the leaves are lined with small spikes. Located on one stem, the leaves grow out in an alternating pattern as they grow up in height.
Add an aloe vera to your plant collection and experience all of its benefits. They are beautiful in your outdoor spaces and they also provide unique properties that other succulent varieties do not.
The sedum is another popular outdoor succulent option. This plant is also known as the “stonecrop.”
A sedum succulent variety comes in so many different colors and options. This plant is known for being a very hardy, outdoor plant. They also give back to the pollinators, such as beads and butterflies. Therefore, sedum is a great addition to your garden.
There are two types of sedum varieties to note. Low-growing sedum grows along the ground and spreads out. They rarely exceed heights above one inch. This makes them an excellent variety to grow within stone paths or on the floor of your gardens.
Upright sedum grows upward. They can get rather tall and tend to form clumps with their leaves. They also are known for producing reddish-pink flowers.
A very popular variety of sedum is the creeping sedum. This variety of sedum can reach heights of three feet. This popular stonecrop can also produce flowers, making it a gorgeous addition to your garden. Due to its blooms, it also benefits the pollinators.
Hen and Chick Succulent
The hen and chick succulent is a very popular choice for outdoor plants. Also known as the sempervivum tectorum, the hen and chick is a very drought tolerant plant. This is a huge reason why they survive beautifully outdoors. The heat and sun exposure does not harm the plant.
You can easily classify a hen and chick succulent. Its leaves form uniquely patterned rosettes. The rosette has been said to resemble the shape of an artichoke.
A unique feature of the sempervivum tectorum is the way it generates new growth. This specific succulent grows new plants all around the “mother plant.” This is what contributes to the sempervivum tectorum’s ability to grow out and cover a lot of ground.
Add this gorgeous succulent variety to your succulent garden. It is a very hardy plant, easy to care for, and grows with ease.
The echeveria pulvinata is another famous option for outdoor succulent gardens. It’s also known as the plush plant. This plant can be identified with its many features. It has very soft leaves, almost velvet in texture. It is a perennial bloomer: be on the lookout for gorgeous orange blooms in the springtime. The plush plant is a low-grower, meaning, it grows low to the ground and not upward.
This specific echeveria variant thrives in large outdoor pots. Make sure you give your plush plant dry soil and make sure to put your echeveria pulvinata in partial shade.
The echeveria pulvinata is very drought-tolerant, but be careful of giving it too much sun exposure.
The aeonium succulent has so many different species to choose from. Some of the most popular outdoor varieties are the aeonium arboreum and the aeonium davidbramwellii.
These two succulent varieties produce gorgeous rosettes of varying colors and shapes. The aeonium arboreum produces beautiful yellow blooms. The aeonium davidbramwellii yields the most gorgeous white flowers.
The various aeonium varieties can be found in the Canary Islands, Madeira, and Morocco.
Aeoniums thrive in full sun to partial shade. This is a need that can be easily met as an outdoor plant. Aeoniums also have the unique feature of “growing seasons.” Be sure to give your aeonium fertilizer in the winter months, since that is their growing season. This plant goes dormant in the summer months, therefore it does not need fertilizer.
Additional aeonium tips include making sure to give your aeonium tons of water in the winter months and try to imitate a Mediterranean environment. Give it a cooler, damper space to live in.
The opuntia is a very popular outdoor cactus variety. This cactus is most commonly referred to as the prickly pear cactus.
You can find opuntia in many countries and states within the United States including Mexico, Africa, Southern Europe, Asia, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Florida, and Massachusetts.
This popular cactus variety has many unique properties:
- Its stems store water to survive a variety of climates
- The stem’s properties also have antifreeze capabilities so it can endure overnight freezes
- Its areoles produce spikes that are painful to the touch
- The flesh of prickly pear is edible
Opuntia are incredibly low-maintenance plants. Some things to remember are:
- Give your opuntia bright sunlight
- The preferred soil is sand
- During the winter months, be sure to give your opuntia very little water
Caring for this plant is so easy! It also gives your outdoor garden or yard a beautifully unique cactus to have.
Outdoor Plant Summary
Get an outdoor succulent or cactus today. Outdoor plant care is very simple. Follow the various tips and tricks and your outdoor plant will thrive. Experience the beauty of owning outdoor succulents and be glad you added one to your collection.
Indoor Succulents and Cacti
Indoor succulents and cacti require such little maintenance. These plants make adorable houseplants and decor. There are endless options to choose from. Not every indoor plant is the same, however. It is important to know what plant you are bringing home and why it is so special.
One of the most popular indoor succulents to purchase is the jade plant. Also known as the crassula ovata, the jade plant can be characterized by several distinct features, including woody stems, plump, or “succulent” leaves, and a healthy crassula ovata will produce white or light pink flowers.
Jade plants are known to thrive well in bonsai planters. The distinct look, shape, and size of a crassula ovata make it a gorgeous indoor plant that will brighten all your house in no time.
Crassula ovatas need basic care, just like every other succulent. This makes them such an easy plant to care for. Mind the watering routines, light, and temperature, and be sure to repot it once it outgrows its space.
Crown of Thorns
A very popular variety of indoor houseplants are the euphorbia. One of the most popular is the euphorbia milii, also known as the crown of thorns.
The euphorbia milii is a very unique variety of euphorbia. It stores the moisture in its stems and it does not have fleshy leaves like its other succulent family members.
The crown of thorns is also very easy to care for:
- The euphorbia milii thrives in dry environments.
- Be careful to not overwater it.
- Place it by a window for plenty of bright, sunny exposure.
If you want an easy plant for your indoor decor, the euphorbia milii is the one for you. It requires effortless maintenance and it is gorgeous to look at.
The flaming Katy is one of the most popular indoor plants to own. Also known by its more scientific name, the kalanchoe, a flaming Katy is going to give your home that pop of color you have been searching for.
Here are some unique facts about the flaming Katy. This specific kalanchoe is native to the country of Madagascar. It produces the most incredible variety of blooms! The color varieties are endless.
Proper care for this kalanchoe is simple, just like most succulents. Give this plant excellent drainage. Since it will be indoors, make sure the pot has drainage holes. Clay pots are best for optimal drainage.
Add a flaming Katy to your indoor succulent collection! The pops of colors and radiant foliage will bring so much life to your indoor spaces. Plus, this kalanchoe is so easy to care for.
One of the most popular haworthia varieties is the haworthia fasciata. Also known as the zebra plant, your haworthia fasciata will provide the most adorable accent to your home and collection of houseplants.
Some noteworthy characteristics of the haworthia fasciata:
- Its leaves are deep green.
- White spots cover the entirety of the plant.
- Its leaves are in the shape of spikes.
- This particular haworthia is very slow-growing. This feature makes them great for a houseplant. You do not have to worry about it outgrowing its pot anytime soon.
- The size of a zebra plant typically stays rather small.
Similar to most succulents and cacti, the zebra plant requires very simple care. Just water it when it is dry, give it bright, natural light, and keep it at a temperature between 60 and 90 degrees.
The mammillaria is a very easy plant to care for. It requires very little effort. The mammillaria is also one of the most common indoor cactus varieties. This cactus is one of the largest cacti varieties, with over 175 species across the world.
You can find many Mammillaria cacti in North America and Central America, in Southern California, Texas, and Mexico.
The mammillaria is a very unique-looking cactus. It can be identified by several characteristics:
- Closely spaced areoles with spikes coming from the center.
- The areoles are placed on the body of the cactus.
- The areoles form two different spirals on the tubercles, both in a clockwise and counterclockwise formation.
- The fruit produced from a mammillaria cactus is edible.
The mammillaria cactus has two, very unique nicknames including the pincushion cactus and the nipple cactus.
Mammillaria care is very standard to the rest of succulent care. There are a few things to be mindful of. Drainage is key! You want to make sure the pot you have your mammillaria in has drainage holes. Sitting water is never good for any cactus or succulents. Water it when the soil is dry. Be mindful of overwatering. If you give your mammillaria too much water, it will not do well.
Your mammillaria can survive through intense weather circumstances. Like most cacti and succulents, it is recommended to keep your plant between 60 and 90 degrees. Bright, natural light will help your mammillaria grow.
You want a mammillaria cactus. They are such a fun and unique type of cacti. Placing this gorgeous cactus in a clay pot on your shelf will make your home pop with color.
Gasteria is quite the popular indoor succulent! It offers a special design, giving different shapes and sizes to your indoor spaces. They are incredibly easy to care for, requiring very little attention.
Spot a gasteria easily by these main traits:
- Their leaves can range from one inch to over a foot in length!
- The leaves are also flat, with a waxy texture.
- Sometimes, depending on the variety, the leaves may have gorgeous bands decorating the surface.
- Other species can have bumps or warts on the surface of the plant.
- The leaves on a gasteria can be brittle, so make sure you touch them gently.
- The gasteria produces a variety of vibrant flowers in the springtime. These flowers often come in beautiful pinks and reds.
- The flowers that bloom are tubular in shape.
All 16 species of gasteria can be found in southern Africa. Another unique fact about the gasteria is that its flowers are edible both raw or cooked.
There are many features that make the gasteria so easy to care for. The gasteria requires very little watering. Placing them in moderate sunlight encourages the plant to grow. Some species that can flower will be promoted to make blooms when placed in the sunlight.They are particularly resistant to pests. It is fairly easy to keep pests off of the gasteria plant.
Watch out for:
- Leaves that produce black spots.
- The presence of these black spots insinuates that the plant has developed a fungal infection.
- However, the black formations signify that the plant has sealed off the area of infection, thus protecting itself.
The gasteria succulent is such a special plant to own. It provides an array of gorgeous flowers in the spring. With effortless care, you can have a succulent flourish in your own home with the gasteria plant.
The Christmas Cactus
The Christmas cactus is a very popular succulent of choice. It decorates most homes with ease due to its gorgeous blooms and vibrant colors. While the decor it provides appears effortless, this plant requires slightly more attention than other indoor succulents and cacti.
There are many fun facts about the Christmas cactus. One of them being that its native home is within the tropics of Brazil. You can find this plant in rainforests due to its love for humidity, moisture, and warm environments.
It is important to remember, that while the word “cactus” is in the name, the Christmas cactus should be treated very differently from a standard cactus. This plant does not do well in dry heat. It thrives off of warm, humid environments.
There are things to mind when caring for a Christmas cactus. Make sure the pot has excellent drainage! This plant, in particular, will perish if the soil does not have good drainage. This plant needs to be placed in bright light. However, the light cannot be direct. If it is too direct, the plant will burn up. If placed in a window, it is recommended that the plant has a curtain to give it partial protection from the sunlight.
Temperatures must change depending on the time of day. If it is daytime, it is best to give your Christmas cactus a temperature of 70 degrees. At night, it is recommended that your Christmas cactus does not reach temperatures below 60 degrees.
This plant thrives in humid environments. That is why many people choose to keep it in a bathroom by the window. Always keep the Christmas cactus out of direct, outdoor sunlight. In the summer, it can be put outside in the shade. Mind the temperatures overnight, though. Your cactus needs to be brought inside if the temperature drops below 50 degrees.
Water your Christmas cactus every two to three weeks. You can also water this plant when the first two inches of the soil are dry. Make sure you water this plant well when it is flowering!
Give your Christmas cactus fertilizer in the springtime. Keep up the regular feeding through the fall. During the fall and winter, give the cactus fertilizer once a month. This encourages its seasonal blooming.
The other holiday varieties include the Thanksgiving cactus and the Easter cactus.
The holiday cacti are given their names due to the season that they produce blooms. The blooms of a Christmas cactus are gorgeous. They can produce pink or lilac flowers in the wintertime. Frequent pruning encourages healthy blooms and extra growth for the Christmas cactus.
Propagating a Christmas Cactus
Propagating a Christmas cactus is also different from your standard succulent. Pick the right time of year! It is best to propagate at the start of the Christmas cactus’ growing season. Collect several stem cuttings to increase your odds of successful propagation.
You have to place your cuttings in a dark, dry, cool place to let them heal properly. Root your cuttings in a jar of water with pebbles or sand at the base. The pebble and sand mixture keeps the roots in place and allows for drainage. Continue the care for six to eight weeks. During this time, place your rooted cuttings in bright, indirect sunlight.
Once the roots have grown, repot the cuttings in a soil mixture. While Christmas cacti require more specific care, the gorgeous blooms and unique plants make it worth it!
Indoor Succulent and Cacti Overview
There are so many succulents and cacti to choose from when it comes to decorating your house. If you want plants that will thrive in your indoor spaces, be mindful of the specific care needs for each plant. For the most part, indoor succulents and cacti have the same general guidelines for care needs. Grab a houseplant today and decorate your home to your desire.
Basic Care Guidelines
There are many tips and tricks to taking care of succulents and cacti. Each plant requires slightly different methods of care. The good news is that most succulents and cacti are incredibly hardy plants. They often are drought tolerant. This means they can survive climates that imitate desert conditions.
So, if you live in the desert or you experience intense heat waves, your succulent and cactus will survive. These plants also are known to withstand some of the more intense weather extremes. They are very resilient, making their care easier than other plants.
How Much Should You Water Your Succulents?
Watering your succulent or cactus is a very low-maintenance task. For the most part, your succulents and cacti need very little water. This is due to their ability to store water within their thick, juicy leaves and stems.
It is important to note that some succulents and cactus varieties require more water, humidity levels, and overall moisture.
A general guideline to follow consists of:
- Watering your plant every seven to 10 days.
- Water when the soil is dry to the touch.
- Be mindful of overwatering! This could cause root rot. Root rot will provide a great home for unwanted mealy bugs and insects. It will sorely damage your plant, overtime.
- If the plant turns soft and yellow, you may be overwatering.
- Look for mold and mildew growth. This also means you have been overwatering.
- Underwatering will cause your plant to look and feel dry and crunchy!
Most succulent plants do not require very routine watering schedules. Knowing your succulent and what it needs is the best way to know how and when to water. Do your research to know what is best.
Light and Temperature Matter
Succulents and cacti have an excellent tolerance for heat and sun. Many species are native to desert climates. They have a remarkable strength in storing water, which makes them resilient in the face of high temperatures and intense, direct sunlight.
Again, it is important to do your research to know what your specific succulent or cactus needs. Without understanding the exact species you have, you could run the risk of harming your succulents.
There are a set of simple rules to follow when providing the right light for your plant:
- Succulents and cacti typically thrive in bright light. If you are unsure whether your plant needs full sun or not, placing it in a well-lit area is a great starting point.
- Natural indoor light will do the trick. Most of these plants need access to the sun, but not necessarily full sun exposure. They do great in indoor, natural lighting.
- Sometimes your plant will require shading. Even using a curtain as a barrier helps the plant to get light, but not too much light.
- If your plant is in a pot, you can change its location with ease.
While your succulent and cacti are drought resistant, there are still some basic temperature guidelines to follow:
- Your succulents can handle extreme temperatures.
- For best care practices, try keeping your plant between 60 and 90 degrees.
- Look out for changes in the weather! Record-breaking heat might not be best for your succulent. In the colder months, be checking for overnight freezes. This can harm your plant.
Luckily, these plants are very durable and hardy. They survive some of the most intense and bizarre weather events. However, it is still important to know your plant in order to give it the best care.
Learn How To Repot and Propagate
Has your succulent or cacti outgrown its home? Do you want to create new plants from the original, large ones you have? Well, repotting and propagation might be the next step for you and your plant!
Repotting is a very simple process. Start by moistening the soil your plant is currently planted in. Gently dig up the plant once the soil is loosened. Remove the plant. Prepare the next location by filling the container partially with soil.
Hold the plant in the middle of the container, gently filling in soil all around its roots until they are completely covered. Water once completed. Be sure the new pot or container is larger than the previous container!
By repotting, you are promoting the growth and bloom of your succulent or cactus! The larger space allows for its root system to spread, creating greeting stability and nutrition input. The plant will grow before your eyes, larger than it was before!
If you have a large succulent and notice it has several spots of offsets or new growth, try propagation! Propagation is one of the fastest and easiest methods to get new growth from your original plant. Here are some simple propagation recommendations:
If you simply pinch or cut off a leaf, most succulents have the ability to create new growth right at the base of the cut leaf. Place the leaf-cutting on a bed of soil and watch it grow.
Sometimes the cuttings need to be dried. Other specific varieties need shade. For example, the Christmas cactus cutting needs shade during its propagation process.
Cutting off stems with rosettes: if your succulent produces a gorgeous rosette, cutting off the top of the rosette as it begins to rise and stretch upward is an excellent method of propagation.
Some succulent varieties create new growth all around the “mother plant.” These brand new, smaller plants can be simply dug out and repotted.
If you want an entire succulent or cacti collection, try propagation! With proper care, your plants will grow up and out, needing new homes before you know it. When you cut off the excess growth, you can multiply your plant family with ease.
Propagation tactics differ based on variety. Make sure to do your research on the best methods for propagation before assuming what your plant needs to grow.
Some Extra Tips
Succulent care goes beyond watering, lighting, temperature, repotting, and propagation. There are several more strategies to give your succulent or cactus just what it needs:
Using the right pot: Succulents and cacti need containers with excellent drainage systems. Be sure to use a pot with drainage holes. Terra-cotta pots are also great options due to their breathability. You never want your plant to sit in standing water.
Using the right soil: Make sure to use succulent or cactus soil. This soil promotes drainage and allows the plant to sit in soil that does not hold the moisture for longer than it should.
Fertilizer: There are plenty of natural fertilizer options for your succulent or cacti. Feeding your plant with good fertilizer promotes growth. If you have a succulent or cacti that produce blooms, fertilizer is a great way to encourage gorgeous, blooming flowers.
Routine inspections: Monitoring your plant for excess growth, dry leaves, mold, and mildew, or unwanted pests is a must. Observing your plant closely helps you to determine what it needs! If there are pests, it’s best to spot them soon in order to get rid of them before damage is done.
Following these guides will encourage the growth and success of your succulent plant. Proper care is essential when owning a cactus or succulent. They are extremely low-maintenance plants. With a little research, you will be on your way to understanding your succulents.
The Easiest Succulents for Beginners
If it was not obvious by now, we will say it again. Succulents are so easy to care for! They are hardy, drought-resistant, and adorable. Not every succulent or cactus is created equally. While most are easy, there are some that are easier than others:
- Graptopetalum Hybrids
- Lithops and Pleospilos Nelii
These succulents will be a great starting point for every beginning succulent owner. By owning these varieties, you will experience the ease of succulent care. There are many other species of succulents and cacti, all ranging in difficulty for management. However, this list is a great place to start.
Succulents for Everyone
Succulents and cacti are a wonderful addition to every home and garden. No one knows this better than Lula’s Garden. We offer the best selection of beautiful succulents that can be delivered right to your door.
You can have endless combinations of colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes when you choose your perfect succulent. Caring for this plant species is so simple. With several guides at your disposal, you will see the simplicity of owning a succulent or cactus. Why wait? Start your home collection today.
Shop succulent gardens here!
8 Best Indoor Succulents: A Guide to Indoor Succulents - 2021 | MasterClass
Indoor and Outdoor Succulents: 12 Types of Succulent Plants - 2021 | MasterClass
Genus Mammillaria | Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Gasteria Page | Succulent Guide
Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) Raf.) | U.S. Forest Service
Christmas Cactus: How To Care For a Christmas Cactus Houseplant | The Old Farmer's Almanac
What Is A Succulent Plant | Succulent Vs. Cactus And Other Succulent Plant Characteristics
Succulents: The Camels of the Plant World | UC Agriculture & Natural Resources
Secrets to success when propagating succulent plants | Michigan State University
Christmas Cactus Guide: How to Propagate Christmas Cactus - 2021 | MasterClass
Agave Plant Guide: How to Grow Agave in Your Garden - 2021 | MasterClass
Sedum (Stonecrop): How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Sedum Plants | The Old Farmer's Almanac
Aeonium Plant Care Guide: How to Grow Aeoniums - 2021 | MasterClass