5 Ways to Design with Succulents

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; many succulents are hardy to zone 4.

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



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.

Shown: Retro Succulents® Sunset™ Aloe


Calamar Squid Agave
Zone: 8 – 10

Rare, non-clumping form of agave with spineless, gracefully-arching, blue-green leaves. Reaches up to 4 ft. tall.


Spiral Aloe
Zone: 7 – 9

Leaves form a unique geometric spiral pattern as the plant ages. Reaches up to 2 ft. tall.


Silver Desert Spoon
Zone: 7 – 11

Twisting, curling, ribbon-like, blue green leaves add texture to the landscape. Reaches up to 4 ft. tall.

Tough Groundcovers


Low growing varieties make excellent colorful, durable ground covers. These spread rapidly, are water-wise once established, and offer interest in color and texture. Can be sheared back in order to control their spill onto pavement, and their root systems can help knit and stabilize soil such as on hillsides.

Shown: Jewel of the Desert Garnet Ice Plant


Blue Finger
Zone: 10 – 11

Pencil-like, slightly curved leaves point upward and form a dense mat. Spreads up to 3 ft. wide.


Fire Spinner® Ice Plant
Zone: 5 – 10

Stunning tri-colored flowers cover a tight, fast spreading mat of succulent evergreen foliage. Spreads up to 18 in. wide.


Blue Spruce Stonecrop
Zone: 3 – 11

Small, succulent blue leaves reminiscent of the needles of a blue spruce conifer. Spreads up to 18 in. wide.

Spillers and Fillers


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.

Shown: John Creech Stonecrop


Black Hens and Chicks
Zone: 4 – 9

Bright green, purple-tipped foliage and small, frosty-white flower spikes. Spreads up to 1 ft. wide.


Bronze Carpet Stonecrop
Zone: 3 – 9

Beautiful trailing perennial forms a lush, ground-hugging mat of bronze-red foliage. Spreads up to 2 ft. wide.


Lipstick Echeveria
Zone: 9 – 11

Brilliant green leaves with vivid reddish pink edges forms dense rosettes on a compact plant. Reaches up to 6 in. tall.

Movable Art


Create a painterly vignette in a container by mixing various textures and colors (we’ve even seen succulents potted up as chic house numbers made by combining two low-growing varieties), planted into a living wall for a vertical accent, or layered in 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’ve hired.

Shown: Christmas Carol Aloe


Silver King Houseleek
Zone: 4 – 9

Silvery, mint green leaves have deep red-purple centers; foliage color intensifies in cold weather. Reaches up to 6 in. tall.


Angelina Stonecrop
Zone: 3 – 11

Brilliant chartreuse-yellow, needle-like foliage forms a quick ground cover, or fills a container. Spreads up to 3 ft. wide.


Black Prince Echeveria
Zone: 9 – 11

Striking form with salmon-red flowers in autumn and winter that attract hummingbirds. Reaches up to 10 in. tall.

Wildlife Magnet


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

Shown: Brakelights® Red Yucca


Autumn Joy Stonecrop
Zone: 4 – 11

Large, plate-like flower clusters that start pink, then gracefully age to rosy russet-red in the fall. Reaches up to 2 ft. tall.


Painted Echeveria
Zone: 9 – 11

Hummingbirds adore the coral-pink and yellow flowers that appear in summer. Clumps spread up to 3 ft. wide.


Super Red® Hybrid Aloe
Zone: 9 – 11

A favorite of hummingbirds! Produces a spectacular display of deep red flowers from fall to winter. Reaches up to 4 ft. tall.