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Indoor and Outdoor Succulents: 12 Types of Succulent Plants

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 3 min read

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Succulents make some of the best houseplants. Unlike most forms of vegetation, succulent plants store moisture in their leaves, which allows them to withstand long periods of drought. Succulents flourish in dry air and warm temperatures.

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​What Are Succulents?

Succulents are plants with thick, fleshy leaves or stems, which store water and protect the plants from drought. Succulents are not synonymous with cacti. While nearly every variety of cactus is a succulent, not all succulents are cacti.

6 Common Outdoor Succulent Varieties

Many outdoor succulent varieties are popular with DIY home gardeners and professional landscapers alike.

  1. Whale's tongue agave: Native to Mexico, this species of succulent (Agave ovatifolia) has wide, flat, dark green leaves. The tips of the leaves are sharp, but they are otherwise safe to touch. Whale’s tongue agave loves bright light.
  2. Aloe vera: Aloe vera grows well both indoors and outdoors. You can use the inner gel of aloe vera leaves as a treatment for burns, sunburns, and skin irritations. Just snap a leaf off a living aloe plant and apply the gel to the burned area on your skin. Given time, the plant will generate a new leaf. Aloe vera has a cousin known as torch plant or lace aloe (Aritsaloe aristata) that thrives outdoors and produces orange blossoms.
  3. Creeping sedum: Also known as “stonecrop,” succulents in the Sedum genus can grow to be up to three feet tall, but they generally spread out as a groundcover. Stonecrop is popular in rock gardens.
  4. Hen and chick succulent: This drought-tolerant succulent (Sempervivum tectorum) has concentric rings of leaves that form a rosette, resembling a thistle plant like an artichoke. It propagates by producing offsets that surround the mother plant.
  5. Plush plant: This type of succulent (Echeveria pulvinata) has soft, velvety leaves and produces orange flowers in the springtime. It grows low to the ground in partial shade and dry soil, and it also does well in large outdoor pots.
  6. Aeonium: The Aeonium genus includes plants like the Zwartkop (aka Aeonium arboreum or "black rose") and the sunburst succulent (Aeonium davidbramwellii). These plants sprout rosettes, which in turn produce flowers—yellow flowers for the Zwartkop and white flowers for the sunburst. They thrive in full sun.
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6 Common Indoor Succulent Varieties

For many people, indoor gardening is more feasible than outdoor horticulture, and many types of succulents are perfect for growing indoors. If your house has west or south-facing windows, you can provide the perfect home for indoor succulents.

  1. Jade plant: Jade plants (Crassula ovata) have small, plump, waxy leaves and woody stems. They grow well in small bonsai pots, but they will fill out if planted in a large pot. A particularly healthy jade plant may produce white flowers or pink flowers, depending on the exact varietal. If you're looking for a larger, outdoor cousin to the jade plant, consider the pig’s ear plant (Cotyledon orbiculata).
  2. Snake plant: Known as Sansevieria trifasciata by botanists, snake plant is a beautiful, low-maintenance plant that does well both indoors and out. A snake plant can survive in low light with very little water. In fact, you should rarely water snake plant, as it's easily susceptible to root rot.
  3. Crown of thorns: The crown of thorns plant (Euphorbia milii) grows best in dry environments and sunny windows. It lacks the fleshy leaves of most succulents, but it stores ample moisture in its stem.
  4. Burro's tail: The burro's tail (aka Sedum morganianum or “donkey's tail”) is a spine-free cactus species that produces long strands of foliage resembling a string of pearls. Burro’s tail plants have a lighter green color than many other succulents and look beautiful in hanging baskets. Burro's tail does well when hung in a sunny window. Water it sparingly.
  5. Flaming Katy: The flaming Katy succulent—native to Madagascar and part of the Kalanchoe genus—produces radiant foliage in a wide array of colors. Flaming Katy plants need plenty of drainage, so place them in clay pots with holes in the bottom.
  6. Zebra plant: One of the most popular indoor succulents, zebra plant (Haworthia fasciata) has green, spike-shaped leaves with variegated white rings. Zebra plants are slow-growing and most stay small. This makes them perfect container plants.

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