Types of Succulents: Species, Varieties, and Identification with Pictures

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Succulents are a type of plant with thick fleshy leaves that grow well in warm humid conditions. All succulent species store water in their leaves, roots, or stems. Although most varieties of succulents have green leaves, some kinds have shades of red, blue, purple, pink and orange. Succulents are generally small compact plants that make great houseplants that require little maintenance.

There are an estimated 60 different plant families that contain varieties of succulents. Some well-known succulent genera include aloe and agave from the order Asparagales and echeverias, as well as jade plants and kalanchoes from the order Saxifragales. It is also important not to confuse succulents with cacti. Although the majority of cacti plants are classed as succulents, not all succulents are cacti.

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In this article, you will learn about many of the most popular types of succulents. Knowing how to identify the different succulent species can help to know how best to care for them. You will also learn the common and botanical names of succulents to make identification easier.

How to Identify Succulents

The best way to identify succulents is by their leaf shape and growth habit. Of course, fleshy leaves are what classifies succulents apart from other plants.

Some succulent species have fleshy leaves that grow in a rosette shape, giving the plant a spiky look. Other types of succulents have spiky, oval, smooth, or strappy-shaped leaves. With some varieties of succulents, you may notice tiny ‘babies’ growing along the leaf edges.

With some succulent species, it can be difficult to tell them apart. For example, pictures of an echeveria and sempervivum may look remarkably similar. This is because both of these succulent genera are in the same order of fleshy-leaved plants.

Types of Succulents With Names and Images

There are many different types of succulents and cactus that you can plant indoors or outdoors. This article contains a list of succulents and cactus with their picture and common name to help you identify them.

Types of Indoor Succulents

Most succulents grow best in warm, dry, humid climates. This means that some species of succulents are best suited for growing indoors.

Let’s look at some of the best succulent houseplants to help compliment your décor.

Aloe Vera

aloe-vera

Aloe vera is a common type of succulent that can grow both indoors and outdoors

One of the most well-known types of succulent is aloe vera. This fleshy green plant is characterized by its gel-filled leaves that have a soothing, healing nature. Aloe vera is just one of over 500 aloes in the genus Aloe.

This tropical succulent species is identified by its long thick leaves that have slightly jaggy edges. Aloe vera doesn’t have a stem, but the fleshy leaves grow directly from the ground in a rosette-type shape.

Aloe vera plants also flower in the summertime. Long spikes up to 3 ft. (90 cm) tall grow up from the plant and they have yellow tubular flowers drooping from the ends.

You can plant the aloe vera succulent in cactus potting soil or in a regular potting soil with extra perlite added to it.

Learn about all the different types of aloe and how aloe vera can benefit your skin and soothe irritation.

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Burro’s Tail

Sedum morganianum

‘Burro’s Tail’ is flowering perennial succulent good for hanging baskets

Some types of succulents such as ‘Burro’s Tail’ (Sedum morganianum) are great for hanging baskets due to their long trailing stems. Also known as ‘Donkey’s tail,’ this succulent has small numerous small blue-green plump leaves that make the plant look like a tail. The long stems can grow up to 2 ft. (60 cm) long.

This is also a species of perennial succulent that flowers. Usually, small dainty pink or red flowers appear during the summer. As with most succulents, this species requires full sunlight to keep the leaves a healthy color.

Flaming Katy

Flaming Katy

Flaming Katy is a flowering succulent with pretty colorful blooms

The Flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) succulent is a flowering succulent variety that has shiny dark green leaves and beautiful flowers in the fall. Flowers on this succulent variety can be red, pink, orange, white, or yellow. The leaves are ovate in shape and have a serrated edge. They form an interesting cup shape when the plant is mature.

Although you can grow this type of Kalanchoe succulent outdoors, it is very sensitive to the cold. So, it is best to plant it in cactus potting soil in a container and enjoy its beauty indoors.

Jade Plant

jade-plant

Jade Plant is a popular green succulent that symbolizes good luck

Also called the Money Tree plant or Money Plant, the Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) is an evergreen perennial succulent. Its thick shiny green leaves are oval or wedge-shaped and have delicate red edging on the tips. Identification of the Jade plant is by its thick trunk and multitude of leafy stems. Leaves can be up to 1.4” (4 cm) wide and 3.5” (9 cm) long.

To care for your jade plant indoors, it should have a room temperature of 65-75 °F (18-24 °C). In many cultures, jade plants have come to symbolize good luck and, therefore, this succulent is also named the Lucky Plant.

Echeveria

echeveria

Echeveria succulents include many cultivars with colorful varieties

Echeveria is one of the largest genera of flowering succulents in the family Crassulaceae. Identifying echeveria is usually by the compact rosette shape of the fleshy leaves.

Succulents in the echeveria genus are also some of the most colorful varieties. For example, the ‘Plush plant’ (Echeveria pulvinata) has lime green leaves with pink edges, the Echeveria laui is a blue type of succulent, and some species also have beautiful pink succulent leaves.

Some types of echeveria grow well outdoors, but most people keep them in containers inside as a low-maintenance houseplant.

Related: Echeveria Types and How to Care for Echeveria Succulents

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Lithops

lithop

Lithops are unique flowering succulents that include many varieties

Some of the more unusually-shaped succulent species are those in the Lithops genus. These succulents are also called ‘living stones’ or ‘pebble plants’ due to their stony appearance. If fact, their name comes from Greek for ‘stone face.’

For many people, lithops are some of the coolest succulents you can grow indoors. The shape of lithops comes from 2 plump succulent leaves that are almost fused together. New leaves and flowers emerge from between the two leaves, causing them to split apart. The fat leaves can be in brown, gray, cream or green colors and have a bumpy texture. When growing in the wild, it can sometimes be difficult to tell lithops apart from stones.

When the succulent plant flowers, it produces white or yellow flowers and this usually happens in the fall.

Bear’s Paw Succulent (Cotyledon Ladismithiensis)

Cotyledon

The leaves of ‘Bear’s Paw’ succulent have fuzzy appearance

Looking at pictures of the Cotyledon Ladismithiensis, it is easy to see why it is also named ‘Bear’s Paw.’ This succulent leaves are covered in tiny hairs and the tips have teeth-like tips with delicate red edges, making the leaf resemble a paw.

When growing in the right conditions inside, the ‘Bear’s Paw’ succulent can grow up to 3.2 ft. (1 m). Its thick fleshy leaves grow haphazardly on the stems, giving the succulent a bushy appearance.

As with growing most types of indoor succulents, you should grow this one in a container just bigger than the root system. Deep watering once a week during the summer helps keep the plant healthy.

String of Pearls

String of Pearls

‘String of Pearls’ is beautiful as hanging ornamental succulent

One of the prettiest hanging succulents is the String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus). This creeping succulent species has pearl-like or pea-like green balls attached to thin stems. This ornamental succulent is from the family Asteraceae which means it is more closely related to daisies than cacti.

Another common name for this succulent is ‘string of beads.’ The trailing stems grow up to 3 ft. (90 cm) long and have a number of small peas-shaped leaves on them. Under the right indoor conditions, the ‘String of Pearls’ flowers in the summer. The small white flowers are trumpet-shaped and classed as compound flowers – similar to other types of asters.

Pincushion Cactus

pincushion

The pincushion is a type of flowering succulent cactus with fleshy leaves and spikes

The pincushion cactus (Mammillaria crinita) is a type of succulent cactus. Due to its distinctive furry appearance, this cactus is a favorite with many people.

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This spiky succulent is one of about 250 cacti in the Mammillaria family and is native to Mexico. One of the advantages of adding a pincushion cactus to your succulent garden is that it is quite short. It doesn’t grow taller than 6” (15 cm) and you will also get vibrant pink flowers when it blooms.

Roseum

Pictures of Sedum spurium ‘Album’ succulent and Sedum spurium 'Purpurteppich' succulent

In the pictures: Sedum spurium ‘Album’ succulent (left) and Sedum spurium ‘Purpurteppich’ succulent (right)

Roseum succulent plants (Sedum spurium) are as beautiful indoors as they are growing outdoors. The dainty light green succulent leaves have a pale pink tinge to their edges. The plant leaves are shaped in a rosette form and have slightly serrated edges. When in full sun, the color of the leaves intensify and you should get beautiful light pink flowers when they bloom.

When growing outdoors in warm climates, this succulent grows vigorously and is great for full-sun ground cover. This plant also grows well in containers and makes for attractive hanging baskets.

Snake Plant

snake plant succulent

The snake plant has ornamental green and yellow long leaves and requires little care – read about other types of snake plants (Sansevieria Varieties)

‘Snake plant’ is the common name for Sansevieria trifasciata and belongs to the family Asparagaceae. The striking feature of the Sanseveria species is the long sword-like green leaves with yellow edging. This plant is actually a rosette-type succulent due the leaf growth. The leaves grow tall and can reach up to 3 ft. (90 cm), with some being known to grow as tall as 6 ft. (2 m)!

One of the reasons to grow this succulent indoors is that it grows well in poor conditions. It requires little maintenance and can provide attractive green and yellow colors to your home décor.

This succulent is also called ‘mother-in-law’s tongue,’ ‘St. George’s sword,’ and ‘viper’s browsing hemp.’

Read about more benefits of keeping a ‘Snake plant’ indoors.

Zebra Plant

zebra plant

The Zebra Plant is a small succulent with white markings that look like stripes

If you are looking for a small succulent with a striking appearance, then the zebra plant (Haworthia fasciata) is a great choice. These succulents native to South America only grow to about 4” (10 cm) tall and have dark green triangular leaves with white stripes. These thick fleshy leaves grow in a rosette form. The plant may produce yellow flowers in late fall or early winter.

Zebra succulents are the perfect houseplant where space is limited.

Succulent Types for Outdoors

Succulents are great outdoor plants for planting in south-facing rock gardens in warm and dry climates. Some types of succulents such as agaves are also good for growing outdoors as they tend to be large plants.

If you live in cooler climates but still enjoy warm summers, then you can also grow succulents outside in containers and bring them indoors in the winter. Some succulents also are hardy enough to withstand harsh winters.

Most of the outdoor succulents mentioned here can also grow inside as interesting houseplants.

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Agave

Agave succulents include many large species that look stunning in your cactus garden

Agave succulents include many large species that look stunning in your cactus garden

Agave is a genus of succulents in the family Asparagaceae and they can grow very large. Agave identification is by their large, thick triangular fleshly leaves. Some types of outdoor agaves are cold-hardy and can grow in USDA zones 5 – 10. Most agaves thrive in warmer climates in the Southern US, Mexico, and the Mediterranean.

One of the striking features of these succulents is when they flower. During this rare occurrence a long spike up to 21 ft. (7 m) emerges from the center of the rosette plant.

Some agave species such as the ‘Golden Flowered Century Plant’ is rosette-shaped and has beautiful blue fleshy leaves. The ‘King of the Agaves’ is a stunning blue succulent with a spiky rosette shape. The ‘Artichoke Agave’ is a perennial succulent with triangular leaves in a large rosette shape.

Plush Plant

Plush Plant

Plush Plant is a small succulent that can be grown both indoors and outdoors

Native to Mexico, the Plush plant (Echeveria pulvinata) has ovate green leaves with pink tinges to the edges. Fine hairs on the succulent leaves give the plant a slightly fuzzy feel and appearance. The beautiful leaf coloring intensifies when it gets enough sun and it produces stunning orange flowers when it blooms.

Pig’s Ear

pig's ear

Pig’s Ear succulent can grow outdoors as a tall flowering succulent type

The thick round leaves on this Cotyledon succulent (Cotyledon orbiculata) give the plant its name of Pig’s Ears. The gray-green oval leaves can grow up to 5” (13 cm) long and have a distinct red line running around their edges.

The succulent plant can grow to about 4 ft. (1.3 m) tall, which looks stunning in a succulent garden. One of the best things with the Pig’s Ear succulent is when it blooms. Tall stalks produce a mass of dainty orange bell-shaped flowers

Zwartkop

Zwartkop

Zwartkop cultivar (left) is a purple succulent whereas other common cultivars are green

One of the most striking succulents to grow in your garden is the Zwartkop (Aeonium arboreum). Due to its dark-colored leaves and rosette shape, the Zwartkop cultivar is also called the ‘black rose.’ What is even more stunning is when the dark purple succulent produces bright yellow flowers.

The common varieties of this subtropical succulent have light lime-green leaves and grow as a small shrubby bush. The common species are also called ‘Irish rose’ and ‘treehouse leek.’

Sunburst Succulent

Sunburst

‘Sunburst’ is a branching succulent with large rosettes

The appropriately named ‘Sunburst’ (Aeonium davidbramwellii) has green leaves with red or light pink edges fanning out in a circle from the center. This succulent hybrid has branches with large rosettes that can measure up to 12″ (30 cm) in diameter. This is a low-growing succulent plant in the Sempervivoideae subfamily.

The distinct pinwheel shape is representative of most succulents in the genus Aeonium.

Torch Plant

Torch Plant

The Torch plant is a large succulent with spiky appearance

The Torch plant (Aristaloe aristata) is in the same tribe as aloe vera (Aloeae) and has a similar look. In the right conditions, the long fleshy triangular leaves in a rosette shape can grow to about 10 ft. (3 m) tall. The succulent green lance-shaped leaves are characterized by toothed edges. This gives the plant a bristly appearance and feel.

If you live in a warm climate and have space in your garden, then the Torch plant succulent can create an eye-catching feature.

Hens and Chicks

Hens and Chicks

Hens and Chicks are cold hardy succulents

One of the cutest types of succulent to grow in a rock garden or container is ‘Hens and Chicks’ (Sempervivum tectorum). Because of their hardiness and ability to survive all sorts of conditions, they are also called ‘live forever’ plants. Even in freezing cold climates, these pretty succulents stay green all year round.

This classic succulent plant grows in the shape of a beautiful rosette up to 4” (10 cm) across. The fleshy leaves can also be in a number of colors including blue, red, green with pink blushing, or green and purple tips.

Although these succulents only grow for about 3 years, the number of ‘chicks’ they produce means that they seem to live forever.

How to Care for Succulents

Succulents are generally easy-to-care-for houseplants. Their fascinating shapes, textures, and colors look beautiful in any room. Succulents are generally kept as small indoor plants, and you can care for a few of them easily without any bother.

Most types of succulents require similar care to help them keep their color and grow properly. You should place your succulent in bright sunlight and rotate them every so often so all parts of the plant get the sun.

Succulents also should be placed in well-drained soil to prevent root rot. Usually, regular cactus potting soil is perfect for growing succulents at home. You should water your succulents when the top 1” (2.5 cm) of soil is dry. To make sure your succulents get enough water, pour in enough water until it runs out the drainage holes.

With indoor succulents, you also need to wipe the dust off the leaves with a damp cloth. This helps to encourage growth and keep your indoor succulent houseplants healthy.

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