Groundcover succulents come in many fantastic shapes and colours and are mostly very hardy, easy to grow and fast spreading. They can help hide unsightly bits of the garden, retaining walls or make a colourful filler in between other plants. There are many creative ways succulent groundcovers can be used. Some groundcover succulents are more hardy than others. Plants such as Sedum Little Missy are absolutely gorgeous but can burn to a crisp if exposed to full sun during a summer heatwave. This is mainly due to the dainty leaves and thin stalks that are vulnerable when very hot. On the other side of the spectrum Sedum Clavatum is a beutiful and hardy succulent groundcover that will be absolutely fine with heatwaves because it has thick, water filled leaves and stems, but will freeze when the temperature drops below 0.
But which are the best and most hardy groundcover succulents that can deal with heat and frost? At the top of the list sits Aptenia Cordifolia that seems to survive anything. Others include a variety of Sedums, Sempervivums and Delospmermas. Here are our favourites.
This is one of the toughest succulent groundcovers we have come across. It will grow in full sun, part shade and full shade and it spreads fast. It can suffer when its exposed to all day full sun when temperatures rise above 40 degrees C (104F) but it is unlikely to die and will keep going.
It is also said to be frost tolerant.
Aptenia Cordifolia can be used as groundcover and also a hanging plant over walls. The thick stems will support the plant falling down quite a distance.
Our nursery grows all of these Sedums and they are incredibly hardy and will live through dry, hot and also bitterly cold weather. They will tolerate poor soils and neglect.
Sedums can be planted in full sun/part shade.
These Sedums are best suited as a groundcovers rather than hanging plants over walls. The thinner stalks can burn in summer and the plant constantly creates new roots with every branch touching the soil.
Delospermas come in various sizes and can range from taller spreading plants to about 40 cms high or low to the ground with tiny leaves. They are prized for their hardiness and gorgeous flowers that cover the plant in the growing season. The flowers come in an array of colours.
Many delsopermas are suited for full sun/ part shade positions of the garden. They are very hardy and tolerate high summer temperatures as well as mild frost, though it is recommended that a frost cloth is placed over plants when snow settles on the ground.
These succulents can cover quite a large area and look fabulous on the ground or hanging over walls.
While semperivums do not spread at the rate of the above mentioned plants they are a fantastic and attractive groundcover plants and will find ways to grow down walls by finding cracks and sending roots into them.
The biggest attraction of Sempervivums is the look. The leaf arrangement of each plant looks like a flower that shoots out offsets or ‘babies’ that will in time produce their own, thus creating a gorgeous carpet of florettes.
They also come in different colours that will change throughout the seasons.
Sempervivums are frost hardy and also tolerant of harsh sun when planted in the ground. The best position for these plants is full sun/ part shade.
Echinopsis Chamacereus or the Peanut Cactus is a great groundcover succulent that looks like little snakes or peanuts. The thorns on the cactus are fairly soft, so it’s not too much of a pain to handle or have around kids/ pets.
This cactus is very hardy and frost tolerant. It will grow almost anywhere from full sun to full shade. In full shade the individual branches are longer and thinner while in full sun, they grow compact and short.
The plant produces and amazing red flower in spring.
The Peanut Cactus is great as a groundcover, but also as an unusual hanging plant draping over walls.
If you’re planting a small plant or a cutting it’s best to do it in spring when all dangers of frost has passed. Simply make a hole in the ground big enough so the root ball is completely covered with soil and water when the soil is dry to the touch. Succulents do not like sitting in stagnant water so never plant in parts of the garden that gets flooded. If it rains a lot and the water can drain away, your succulents will be just fine.
The reason to plant young succulents in spring is that they get established for summer and then winter. They will send their roots as deep as possible, which will help them survive direct sun in the height of summer and frost in the cold months.
If the summer is hot and dry, you can help your succulents along by watering regularly especially during heatwaves. They should survive without the water but will grow healthier when watered.
In winter keep dry if your area gets regular frost and snow. Although the above mentioned succulents should survive frost, frost cloths can be placed of them to help keep dry and avoid frost burns.
There’s many other groundcover succulents out there but the great majority are not frost hardy. If you live in a temperate climate with mild winters you can grow loads of fantastic plants.
We are lucky enough to live in the sunny Australia with hardly any frost, though we suffer horribly in summer when temperatures often hike well over 40 C (104 F) regularly.
Groundcover succulents in the ground (not in pots though) can survive the direct sun of such intensity and some of our favourites are:
Crassula Sarmentosa Variegata
Senecio Blue Chalkstics
If you know of any other succulent groundcovers that are super hardy you can share with us in the comment section below. 🙂