5 Ways to Design with Succulents

Succulents have become stars of the garden world over the past few years, and it’s easy to see why. Water-wise, fuss-free, sculptural, colorful and just plain cool, they’re one of this decade’s must-have plants. While they look amazing simply planted in a pot, it’s easier than you may think to incorporate these plants into your garden’s design. And not just in the warmer zones; if you live in a colder zone—zones 4-7–many succulents are winter-hardy!

To get you inspired, we’ve listed our five favorite ways to use succulents.

Thrillers

Many succulents are so architectural that just one perfect specimen planted with lots of negative, empty space around it makes a bold statement. From ovals and spikes to pearls and pegs, the quirky shapes of the foliage of many succulents makes them an ideal choice to create a focal point.

Starter choices:

http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/3493/desert-rose-paddle-plant/ Crimson Aloe John Creech Stonecrop Spiral Aloe
Desert Rose
Paddle Plant
Zones 9-11
Crimson Aloe
Zones 9-11
John Creech
Stonecrop
Zones 3-9
Spiral Aloe
Zones 7-9

 

Tough and Tumble Groundcovers

Low growing varieties make excellent, colorful, durable groundcovers. They spread rapidly, are water-wise once established, offer interest in color and texture, are easy to shear back in order to control spill onto pavement, and their root systems can help knit and stabilize soil such as hillsides.

Starter choices:

Cape Blanco Stonecrop Blue Chalksticks Coral Carpet Stonecrop Sunsparkler® Dazzleberry Sedum
Cape Blanco
Stonecrop
Zones 5-9
Blue Chalksticks
Zones 10-11
Coral Carpet
Stonecrop
Zones 4-8
Sunsparkler®
Dazzleberry Sedum
Zones 4-9

 

Cloaks and Daggers

Whether slipped into cracks in an old concrete wall, wedged between stones in a rock wall, or planted above and allowed to spill over, trailing varieties are a water-wise solution to disguising or dressing up blank vertical surfaces. Once they snuggle in, you don’t have to do much more than trim and tidy-up as they grow.

Starter choices:

Chinese Sedum Corsican Stonecrop Krebs Desert Rose Hens and Chicks Voodoo Stonecrop
Chinese Sedum
Zones 5-8
 Corsican Stonecrop
Zones 5-9
 Krebs Desert Rose
Hens and Chicks
Zones 4-9
Voodoo Stonecrop
Zones 3-9

 

Moveable Art

Create a painterly vignette in a container by mixing various textures and colors (we’ve even seen succulents potted up house numbers made by combining two low-growing varieties), planted into a living wall kit for a vertical accent, or layered into a strawberry pot. Or, keep it simple and modern by tucking one killer specimen in a pot for a jaw-dropping statement that, with minimal care, will live for years to come. Your neighbors will be wondering what designer you hired.

Starter choices:

Easter Lily Cactus Angelina Stonecrop Color Guard Adam's Needle Red Cobweb Hens and Chicks
Easter Lily Cactus
Zones 8-11
Angelina
Stonecrop
Zones 3-11
Color Guard
Adam’s Needle
Zones 4-10
Red Cobweb
Hens and Chicks
Zones 4-10

 

Wildlife Magnet

We’re all designing with wildlife on our minds these days and many succulents produce the most beautiful flowers in a number of shades like red, white, pink, and orange. Birds, bees, and butterflies will swarm, so get your camera out and capture Mother Nature at its best.

Starter choices:

Brakelights® Red Yucca Jewel of the Desert Garnet Ice Plant Sunsparkler® Lime Zinger Sedum Blue Elf Aloe
Brakelights®
Red Yucca
Zones 5-10
Jewel of the Desert
Garnet Ice Plant
Zones 5-10
Sunsparkler®
Lime Zinger
Sedum
Zones 4-9
Blue Elf Aloe
Zones 9-11