When you hear of the word “succulent” what comes to mind? You may conjure up an image of something that is tender, ripe, and often delicious, but do your thoughts go to the zebra-patterned leaves of the succulent haworthia or the magenta-flowered spectacle of the mammillaria? The thick, fleshy, and eye-catching leaves of a succulent plant are all the rage, and best of all, you don’t have to be an expert botanist to enjoy their charm.
These garden varieties have gained popularity in recent years not only for their interesting shapes, hues, and textures but also for their reputation for being one of the easiest plants to keep alive (and thriving). There are so many interesting succulents out there that it might be a little overwhelming to know which one to start with. We’re sharing the lowdown on the easiest succulents to grow, even if you weren’t born with a green thumb.
What Are the Easiest Succulents to Grow?
1. Zebra Plant (Succulent Haworthia)
Originally hailing from South Africa, this dark green variety is typically adorned in clusters of white speckles, which form a pattern similar to the coat of its animal namesake. Its petite size makes it perfect for your decorative side table or adding a touch of pizazz to a window ledge. The succulent haworthia thrives in both bright and dim conditions, and it gets by with once-a-month watering, which sets it at the top of our beginner-friendly list.
Another important detail: despite this exotically appealing plant’s pointy edges, it is not poisonous, so they are safe to have in homes with tiny tottering humans or furry family members. Even better, it does best in small pots, so they don’t take up much space, and you can find such a slew of cute themed planters for your little sprout to live in, that soon enough, you’ll want to start your own Zebra Plant collection.
2. Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata)
If you are superstitious, this old succulent standby, also known as the Money Plant, just might be your good luck charm. According to Feng Shui folklore, its combination of strong roots and tendency to flourish easily is supposed to spark growth and abundance in the owner’s wealth. Their oval-shaped leaves and thick, rugged stems make them look like mini trees, and they can easily surpass three feet in height when kept indoors.
The Jade Plant’s longevity mirrors this storied history, so even if you aren’t the kind of person who carries around a lucky rabbit’s foot, this hearty mainstay will fill your home or office with a permanent kind of joy for years to come. A quick rule of thumb: stick a finger in the top of the soil of the crassula ovata, and if it feels dry to the touch an inch deep, it is time to get out your watering can.
3. Panda Plant (Kalanchoe Tomentosa)
A most striking succulent due to its snowy grey-colored leaves lined with chocolate brown edges and a soft encasing, these fuzzy creatures will add a touch of coziness to your surroundings. Native to Madagascar, you can welcome biodiversity into your home by putting these unique potted plants on display. Due to the kalanchoe tomentosa’s one-of-a-kind looks, you might also hear them called Pussy Ears, Donkey Ears, and Chocolate Soldier. Take your pick!
If you want to proliferate its presence, you can easily propagate your Panda Plant by snipping off and rooting an individual leaf into a freshly soiled pot. Do note: timing is everything. Be sure to regenerate your soft succulent in late spring during its active growing season, and by fall you’ll be able to gift some newly sprouted shrubs to others.
4. String of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus)
This sprawling and sinuous plant is perfectly displayed within an indoor hanging basket. Resembling a long pearled necklace, its limbs grow in a free-flowing manner when given the right amount of bright, indirect light and temperate indoor conditions. While in its winter growing phase, 72 degrees Fahrenheit will keep its windy boughs happy, though during the senecio rowleyanus’s summer dormant season, darker and cooler environs are best.
The String of Pearls does well with once-a-week watering, but if you notice its leaves are starting to shrivel, get out your watering can and rehydrate the natural beaded beauty, pronto! Also, if your succulent’s pearls change from their healthy green to a purplish-brown hue, there is too much direct sunlight and the crisped balls need a break. Our favorite part: in the summer the green branches sprout flowers, and their cinnamony scent is delightful.
5. Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis)
Widely known for its cooling medicinal uses and beauty regime benefits, the Aloe Vera succulent plant has been highly acclaimed by ancient healers and esteemed aristocrats for centuries. So why go to the pharmacy when you can grow your very own supply of 100% natural soothing antiseptic ointment and moisturizer? This popular houseplant fares well in tropical surrounds, and its long and robust leaves can grow anywhere from two to three feet long.
It is important to keep the useful aloe barbadensis in bright areas, so if you have a dark and shady home, you should opt for a less sensitive succulent. For a touch of fun: if you are a creative cook or baker, you can also use its natural extract as an emulsifier in soups, stews, desserts, smoothies. Though, keep the versatile plant away from curious pets and tots, as in its raw form it is toxic to animals and children.
6. Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria)
A succulent fan favorite, this little spiky charmer is native to Mexico and the southwest region of the United States. As you might imagine, the warm, dry desert climate is best for this pointy plant, and they lust for lots of direct sunlight but hardly need any water to keep their sharp edges spunky and strong. Just like its native land, the Pincushion Cactus must dwell in a pot mixed with both soil and rocky sand.
When cared for properly, in the springtime the tiny, prickly mammillaria often sprouts vibrant pinkish-purple flowers, which add softness to its hard shell. Even more exciting: these blooms are edible, so at the end of the season, pluck them off and add the blossomed buds to a plated recipe to captivate your dinner guests!
7. Mexican Snowballs (Echeveria Elegans)
These circular bundles of beauty are the most visually well-known succulents around. With their flower-like shape and symmetrical appeal, it is no wonder that the Mexican Snowball is a common starter plant for every type of demographic and occasion. Whether making a succulent rock garden with the neighborhood kids, sharing one with a trusted peer at work, or working them into elegant wedding centerpieces or bouquets, these silvery greenish blue rosettes are timeless.
Another succulent with a rich history of mystical roots, the echeveria elegans was believed to ward off evil spirits. So if you are a fan of smudging away energies that don’t serve you and your home, you may want to add this appealing foliage to your bedside table.