Described as “the modern designer?s favorite freaks and geeks” succulents have such a variety of forms and colors that give you endless scope for interesting designs. But some are easier to grow than others so this list of ten has been specially chosen for their reliability. I came across this article by Maureen Gilmer over on the Fine Gardening website.
Succulents are the modern designer?s favorite freaks and geeks. They are a celebration of geometric form so rigid that the plants hardly seem to be living things. They can look like stones, can be toothed as an alligator, and occasionally morph into monstrosities that defy genetics. Every gardener should have at least one succulent plant. Despite plant tags and grower tips, however, some of these fleshy fellows remain notoriously fickle?prone to sudden meltdown, rot, and mummification.
With so many succulents out there, it?s impossible for home gardeners to tell the easy growers from the finicky specialties. The selections here offer a diverse mix of no-brainers to help you get started without risk of failure.
1. Add color to a dreary winterPhoto/Illustration:Missy JohnsonName: Paddle plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora)
Zones: 10 to 11
Size: 1 foot tall and wide
Conditions: Bright shade
Paddle plant is the most popular modern succulent due to its whimsical form and intense winter color. Its leaves are flat, like pancakes, layered into an odd rosette. This plant bolts when it blooms, with the center stem elongating into a gangly white stalk. Those sold in nurseries are youngsters raised to maximum size for immediate use, but they do not last more than a year before bolting, which spoils their looks. Once paddle plant flowers, cut off the stem and give the remnant of the plant good care. It will soon produce many new offsets that can be plucked off and rooted.
2. The succulent for zinnia loversPhoto/Illustration:Michelle GervaisName: Tree aeonium (Aeonium arboreum and cvs.)
USDA Hardiness Zones: 9 to 11
Size: 6 to 24 inches tall and wide
Conditions: Full sun to light shade
If a zinnia were a succulent, it would be a tree aeonium. This species features two of the hottest varieties in the modern succulent world. Deep burgundy to black ?Zwartkop? (pictured) is a power?ful contrast against light green or yellow plants. ?Sunburst? has large cream-colored variegated leaves that can take on pink highlights. Over time, tree aeonium develops a thick trunk and may branch into sizable subshrubs that produce foot-long, cone-shaped stems of vivid yellow flowers.
3. Donkey’s tail is a unique spillerPhoto/Illustration:Todd HollowayName: Donkey?s tail (Sedum morganianum)
Size: 2 feet long and 1 foot wide
Conditions: Bright shade
Show children a donkey?s tail and they will reach out to pinch the leaves of this unique vinelike succulent. It?s typically grown in a hanging basket where perfect drainage is assured. It also grows well dangling from a pot on a wall or balcony. This is not a heat lover, but it?s a cinch to grow in spots protected from wind. Give it a shaded location with filtered light for best results.
Read more: Fine Gardening