Figure out the right one for you.
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If you’re looking to add a succulent to your life, you have plenty of options. From petite to sprawling, terrarium-dwelling to outdoor-ready, beginner-friendly to advanced greenery, there’s a little something for everyone.
“When we talk about succulents, we’re talking about a wide range of plants,” says Summer Rayne Oakes, the environmental scientist and plant whisperer behind Homestead Brooklyn.
Before selecting a succulent, it’s important to consider what you have to offer your new housemate. Although long rumored to be “foolproof” and easy to care for, in reality, no two succulents are alike, and each comes with its own unique needs.
As desert natives, they’re accustomed to harsh conditions, capable of surviving both lengthy droughts and extreme temperatures better than many of their plant peers. In fact, succulents even store their own water in their signature thick, fleshy leaves and stems (the word “succulent” is derived from the Latin word sucus, meaning “juice”). But that doesn’t mean they can be ignored.
“I would love for people to go beyond thinking about plants as décor, and instead asking, ‘what does this plant need from me?’” says Oakes, whose forthcoming book, “How to Make a Plant Love You,” serves as an inter-species relationship guide of sorts.
Not sure where to start? Look no further. Here are 10 of our favorite succulents.
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With trailing tendrils that can grow up to three feet long, burro’s tail is a popular choice for hanging planters and shelves in need of a spill of greenery. This Mexico native thrives in bright light, but direct sunlight can burn its delicate leaves. Blooms are rare, but if you’re lucky, your burro’s tail may gift you with pink or red flowers during the summer.
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Hens-and-Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)
Although it always had a loyal following, hens-and-chicks (also known as houseleek) is an official It-Girl these days. The trendy succulent is famously low maintenance and does especially well in drought conditions, making it perfect for those prone to skipping town and forgetting about their gardens. The mother rosette (aka the “hen”) is connected to her “chicks” by a system of small, delicate roots, which are able to penetrate small cracks and thrive in rock gardens. Hens-and-chicks also do well in regular gardens and living succulent wreaths.
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Why is the jade plant so popular? Because it’s almost foolproof. This hearty, no-fuss succulent thrives indoors, often surviving for generations and growing up to three feet tall. As long as you don’t overwater this classic beauty—a common mistake among those new to drought-loving jade—it’ll reward you with glossy, emerald-green leaves for years to come.
With its thick, fuzzy, blue-green leaves, the panda plant adds a fresh organic texture to indoor spaces. Pandas tend to like a good amount of sunlight, making them a solid choice for windowsills and conservatories. Pet parents, take note: the panda plant is toxic to dogs and cats, causing intense irritation to the mouth and throat, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.
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Easy-going and beginner-friendly, aloe vera is a classic crowd-pleasing succulent. When potted, it thrives indoors in bright sunny rooms. If you live in a year-round warm climate, feel free to plant your aloe outdoors—but be aware that one below-freezing night will kill your plant. Aloe is known for its juicy, sunburn-soothing leaves, but it also sprouts a stalk of bell-shaped flowers every now and then.
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Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Unlike many succulents, snake plants do well in low-light conditions. Partial sun is ideal, but these remarkably laid-back succulents can also make do in a shady corner. Tall and slender, a snake plant is great for adding an architectural element to a small space. Snake plants don’t regularly bloom, but every couple of years may offer a showing of fragrant, tubular white blooms.
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Flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
Looking for a succulent with flair? Meet the flaming katy. This Madagascar native boasts blooms ranging from fiery red to vibrant lilac, making it a popular hostess gift and windowsill adornment. When indoors, they’ll bloom multiple times per year.
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Roseum (Sedum spurium)
Roseum is a low-growing, shamelessly cute succulent that lives its best life indoors on a sunny windowsill. In return for prime positioning, it offers pink rose-like blossoms in the summer.
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Zebra Plant (Aphelandra squarrosa)
Petite and pretty, the zebra plant is a popular choice for the space-challenged. In addition to its flashy striped leaves, it sprouts a large golden flower in the late summer or early autumn. Like a true tropical plant, it requires plenty of sunshine, warmth and moisture to thrive.
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Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)
The crown of thorns gets its name from the sharp, long thorns that cover its lower stems. But don’t be turned off by the rough start—this popular succulent is an underrated beauty, offering year-round blossoms and requiring minimal care. As the crown of thorns has become more popular in recent years, hybridizers have developed plants with even bigger blossoms.