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

Succulent varieties

Succulents are a type of plant with thick fleshy leaves that grow well in warm dry 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 important not to confuse succulents with cacti. Although the majority of cacti plants are classed as succulents, not all succulents are cacti.

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 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 barbadensis)

A picture aloe-vera

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

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

Aloe vera is a tropical succulent species that can be 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 aloe 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.

Aloe vera can be grown outdoors in USDA zones 10 – 11 and in a protected area in the garden in zone 9.

Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum)

Sedum morganianum (‘Burro’s Tail’ - a flowering perennial succulent)

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

‘Burro’s Tail’ is one of the best types of succulents to plant in hanging baskets due to its long trailing stems. Also known as ‘Donkey’s tail,’ this cool succulent has small numerous small blue-green plump leaves that make the plant look like a tail. The long stems of the beautiful Burro’s Tail succulent can grow up to 2 ft. (60 cm) long.

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

If you live in a warm climate, you can grow Burro’s tail outdoors in USDA zones 9 – 11.

Flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

kalanchoe blossfeldiana flowers

Kalanchoe succulent flowers come in a wide array of colors and include single flower (pink and red flowers in the picture) and double blooms (the yellow kalanchoe blossfeldiana ‘Calandiva’ cultivar)

The Flaming Katy is a cool 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 of flaming katy are ovate in shape and have a serrated edge. They form an interesting cup shape when the plant is mature.

A beautiful cultivar of Flaming Katy is called Calandiva plant (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana ‘Calandiva’). You can distinguish between Flaming Katy and Calandiva plants by their flowers: Flaming Katy has single-petaled flowers whereas Calandiva has showy flowers with double petals like a rose.

Although you can grow these types of Kalanchoe succulents outdoors, they are very sensitive to the cold. So, it is best to plant Kalanchoe in succulent soil mix in a container and enjoy their beauty indoors.

You can grow kalanchoe plants outdoors if you live in USDA zones 10 and 11.

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

A close-up picture jade plant with green leaves

Jade plant is a popular indoor succulent that symbolizes good luck

Also called the Money Tree plant or Money Plant, the Jade Plant 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 succulent indoors, grow it in 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.

Jade plant is hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11.

Echeveria

echeveria

Echeveria succulents include many cultivars with beautiful colorful varieties

Echeveria is one of the largest genera of flowering succulents in the family Crassulaceae. Identifying of echeveria is usually done by the compact rosette shape of its 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 in zones 9-11, but most people keep them in containers inside as a low-maintenance houseplant.

Related: Echeveria Types and How to Care for Echeveria Succulents

Plush Plant (Echeveria pulvinata)

Plush Plant

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

Native to Mexico, the Plush plant 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.

Plush plant succulent is hardy in USDA zones 9-11.

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 named ‘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 Lithops succulent flowers, it produces white or yellow flowers and this usually happens in the fall.

Lithops are hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11.

Bear’s Paw Succulent (Cotyledon Ladismithiensis)

Cotyledon

The decorative 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.’ The 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 Bear’s Paw succulent in a container just bigger than the root system. Deep watering once a week during the summer helps keep the plant healthy.

Bear’s paw succulent is hardy in USDA zones 9-11.

String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

String of Pearls

‘String of Pearls’ looks best as hanging ornamental succulent

One of the prettiest hanging succulents is the String of Pearls. 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 the String of Pearls succulent is ‘string of beads.’ Its 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’ succulent flowers in the summer. The small white flowers are trumpet-shaped and classed as compound flowers – similar to other types of asters.

The string of pearls is a pretty succulent and it’s one of the best plants for hanging baskets.

String of pearls succulent is hardy in USDA zones 9-12.

Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria crinita)

pincushion

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

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

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.

Pincushion cactus is hardy in USDA zones 9-11.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

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 it belongs to the family Asparagaceae. The striking feature of the Sanseveria species is the long sword-like green leaves with yellow edging. This beautiful plant is actually a rosette-type succulent. 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 snake plant succulent indoors is that it grows well in poor conditions. This easy care succulent 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.’

The snake plant is winter hardy to USDA zones 10-12.

Haworthia Fasciata “Zebra Plant”

Haworthia Fasciata 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 Haworthia fasciata “zebra plant” is a great choice. These exotic succulents are native to South America.

The Zebra plant is a small succulent that only grows to about 4” (10 cm) tall. It has dark green triangular leaves with white stripes. Its thick fleshy leaves grow in a rosette form. This is a flowering succulent that may produce yellow flowers in late fall or early winter.

Zebra succulents are the perfect houseplant where space is limited.

Growing outdoors, Haworthiopsis fasciata “Zebra Plant” grows in USDA zones 9 to 11.

Haworthia cooperi – The Transparent Succulent

haworthia cooperi truncata

The Haworthia cooperi are slow-growing succulents with unusual fleshy translucent leaves

The Haworthia cooperi is a small rare succulent plant with fleshy translucent leaves. The “see-through” Haworthia cooperi succulent has shiny transparent leaves that grow in a rosette pattern in sandy soil.

The transparent Haworthia plant is very easy to grow at home. All it needs is some indirect light, warmth, and watering every so often.

Haworthia cooperi includes various cultivars with interesting and unusual look. Depending on the Haworthia cooperi cultivar, the plump leaves can be triangular-shaped or globular.

Haworthia cooperi is hardy succulent in USDA zones 10 and 11.

Hoya Kerrii (Lucky-Heart) Plant

Hoya kerrii

Hoya kerrii is a succulent that is also called sweetheart hoya or valentine hoya

The Hoya kerrii (sweetheart plant or lucky-heart plant) is a cool-looking type of succulent that is grown indoors. The heart shaped leaves of this type of succulent are the reason why it’s also named love heart plant.

The sweetheart succulent plant grows best in bright direct light and well-draining loose soil, with only occasional watering. Keep these unique and unusual indoor plants in a temperature range of 65°F to 80°F (18°C – 27°C) and medium humidity. Fertilize up to four times a year in the growing season.

Learn how to care for hoya kerrii (sweetheart plant / valentine hoya) and find out other beautiful hoya varieties.

Hoya kerii is winter hardy to USDA zone 11.

Pig’s Ear (Cotyledon orbiculata)

pig's ear

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

The thick round leaves on this Cotyledon succulent 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 Cotyledon 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.

The Pig’s Ears (Cotyledon) succulent is hardy in USDA zones 9-11.

Zwartkop (Aeonium arboreum ‘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. 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.’

Zwartkop is hardy in USDA zones 9-11.

Sunburst Succulent (Aeonium davidbramwellii ‘Sunburst’)

Sunburst

‘Sunburst’ is a branching succulent with large rosettes

The appropriately named ‘Sunburst’ succulent 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.

‘Sunburst’ succulent is hardy in USDA zones 9-11.

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.

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 Agave 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 Agave 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.

Roseum Sedum (Sedum spurium ‘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 are as beautiful indoors as they are growing outdoors. Their 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 zones 4-10, this succulent grows vigorously and is great for full-sun ground cover. This beautiful plant also grows well in containers and makes for attractive hanging baskets.

Torch Plant (Aristaloe aristata)

Torch Plant

The Torch plant is a large succulent with spiky appearance

The Torch plant 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.

Torch plant is hardy to zones 8 – 10 and prefers the warmth. 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 (Sempervivum tectorum)

Hens and Chicks

Hens and chicks are cold hardy succulents that can be used as ground-cover plants

One of the cutest types of succulent to grow in a rock garden or container is ‘Hens and Chicks’. 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.

Hens and Chicks is a cool succulent plant that 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 beautiful succulents only grow for about 3 years, the number of ‘chicks’ they produce means that they seem to live forever.

Firestick Plant ‘sticks on fire’ (Euphorbia tirucalli ‘sticks on fire’)

Firestick Plant care

‘Sticks on fire’ plant contains toxic substance for humans and pets so you should handle it with extreme care

The firestick plant ‘sticks on fire’ (also called pencil cactus) is a type of succulent, not cactus, that has clumps of pencil-like stems exhibiting an orangey-red color that looks like it’s on fire.

Firestick plant is a large ornamental succulent that can decorate any garden or landscaped space with its stunning stem color. Because of its impressive growth and predominately red colors, firestick plant bushes resemble sea coral.

The firestick plant is an easy succulent to grow and is hardy in USDA zones 10 – 12. The firestick succulent thrives in bright sunlight, warm temperatures, and low humidity.

It’s best to grow the firestick plant outdoors in warm climates, as this succulent contains white substance that’s toxic to dogs and cats, and can severely irritate the skin and eyes of humans.

Candelabra Cactus (Euphorbia Trigona)

african milk tree

Euphorbia Trigona is an easy to grow low maintenance cactus-like succulent

The Candelabra cactus (Euphorbia trigona or Euphorbia cactus) is a type of succulent, not a true species of cactus. Also called the African milk tree, this plant is a tall-growing branching succulent that you can grow outdoors in a warm climate (USDA 10-11).

Euphorbia trigona succulent has central stem with branches that grow upward. Along the ridges of the stems are thorns and small oval-shaped leaves. At maturity, the euphorbia plant reaches up to 6 ft. (1.8 m) in height.

The tall-growing Euphorbia succulent is easy to grow indoors as well. It thrives in a bright spot where it gets plenty of indirect sunlight. Read more on How to Care For African Milk Tree (Euphorbia Cactus / Candelabra Cactus).

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.

Read the ultimate guide to caring for succulents and keeping them alive.

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