Succulent gardens are becoming increasingly popular around the world not only for their beauty but also due to hardiness of succulents themselves. They are often described as plants of the future as many parts of the world face increasing water uncertainty.
It can be slightly daunting trying to select the right succulents for the garden as there are many different species and hybrids available these days. To add to all the confusion, some succulents prefer part sun position, some bright shade, some can rot in the rain (small minority but it can happen) some will just not look very pretty unless they are grown in full sun, some are hardy, some are fussy, some are small while others can grow quite big.
To try and fill a decent space you will need succulents that can grow a little more than 20 cms in diameter. So which succulents grow large and are also hardy?
Below we have compiled a list of outdoor garden succulents that will grow large or have the ability to spread over large areas, are easy to look after (drought hardy but able to cope with rain, will grow well in a variety of positions and soils) and should be easy to buy anywhere in the world.
Most Succulents are not frost hardy and only very few will survive snow and a full-on winter with prolonged subzero temperatures. This article is predominantly aimed at warm countries with hot summers and mild winters although all of the below mentioned succulents can be grown in pots and brought in for winter. Having said that, succulent can be grown in big pots that can be brought inside during winter.
This is one of the most popular and common succulents in cultivation. It is grown both indoors and outdoors and is synonymous with wealth and prosperity (hence its other names like Money Plant or Lucky Plant). If left to its own devices in the garden Crassula Ovata will grow quite large, to over 1m in height and width. If grown in full sun the leaves edges will become red creating a lovely contrast. The plant will have a more compact appearance in a sunny position but tolerates part shade and also full shade.
There are many Crassula Ovata hybrids such as the Gollum, Hummel’s Sunset or Red Coral. All of these succulents will grow quite large and are hardy. They can either be used as a small hedge or part of a garden display.
Crassula Ovata should be easy to source from nurseries, garden centres or online. They are very common so you may be able to obtain a cutting from family/ friends.
With its gorgeous large, pink rosette forming leaves Fred Ives is a winner in the garden. It is very hardy and nice to look at. Individual rosettes can grow to over 25cms in diameter and the plant branches out with new rosettes to the sides creating a mass of pink. Fred Ives will grow in full sun to part shade. In full sun the plant will be a bit more pink and compact. It is also incredibly easy to propagate and will grow from either cutting or a single leaf.
Graptoveria Fred Ives should be easy to find in nurseries or your favourite garden centre. If not online nurseries will almost definitely stock this pretty, large garden succulent
Lots of Agaves will grow to be enormous (perhaps a little too big for an average garden). We like Agave Attenuata as it often seems just right for a small to medium sized gardens. Individual heads can grow to about 1m in height and width. Pups may need to be removed so the plant does not take over the garden, however this is quite easy to do. Attenuata has a lovely rosette leaf arrangement and unlike many other agaves, the tips of its leaves are not sharp thorns.
Agave Attenuata will tolerate full sun, part shade or full shade.
In our experience these 2 types of Aeoniums are hardy and very pleasing to the eye thanks to their large rosette shaped leaf arrangement and they can grow into a small tree. Aeonium Arboreum is green in colour and Schwartzkopf is dark red/ burgundy.
They have the ability to grow to over 1.5m in the right conditions with multiple rosettes. These Aeoniums will also withstand the full blast of the sun, part shade or full shade. The best results are achieved in a sunny position as the rosettes will grow pretty and compact.
The Firesticks can grow into a tree a few metres high over the years, but if pruned they can be kept as gorgeous yellow, green, orange and red small shrubs. The colour is absolutely amazing and established plants can withstand a variety of weather conditions. This may however not be the best plant in the garden if you have small kids that like to play with plants or plant eating pets as Euphorbias have poisonous sap in their stems and leaves that can irritate the skin and are dangerous if eaten.
Many Aloes grow into large plants and have a sculptural look that will add texture to your garden. They are also very hardy once established in the garden and often have strinking flowers on tall stems. Aloe polyphylla is possibly the most artistic out of them all with its spiraling leaves and at well over 40cms in diameter it is a superb large and hardy garden succulent.
We also like Aloe Vera which is said to have medicinal qualities, Aloe Hedgehog with its white spines and lovely green-blue colour and Aloe Porcupine.
This is a fantastic Echeveria hybrid with long, pointy, white- blue, powdery leaves that will grow to over 40 cm in diameter and 30 cm in height. You will never regret one of these in the garden due to its striking beauty and hardiness.
Although Echeveria Mexican Giant is quite widespread it may be hard to purchase due to its popularity.
There are good alternatives from the Echeveria genus such as Echeveria Orion, Violet Queen, Morning Beauty, Apus, Hercules or Elegans which either grow large or have a climping habit resulting in a carpet of pretty rosettes.
If you’re looking for a plant that will spread and also has a bit of height, kalanchoe fedtschenkoi might be your star succulent. It grows to approximately 40 cm height and can spread over large areas. It has unusual leaves that are blue in colour with a faint red edge. The variegated version is quite striking with white and pink thrown into the mix of colours as well. Many other kalanchoes are good spreading plants though beware of some (Mother of a thousands) as they will colonize every bit of available space in the garden and are very hard to get rid of. Here in Australia some species are regarded an invasive weed.
These matt forming succulents are prized for its vibrant daisy like flowers. Most delospermas have a low spreading habit and are fantastic groundcovers. They also look great planted on the edge of the garden or a wall as they will spill over. We recommend going for miniature versions because they are a bit easier to manage and the smaller flowers look more appealing.
Sempervivums are quite remarkable as many will survive both heat and frost. Also referred to as houseleeks (although the name is quite misleading as they will not survive inside the house for long periods) these plants form carpets of rosettes that can spread over large areas. The individual rosettes themselves are quite small but the plant pops out so many offshoots, the whole formation can become quite large.