Some Like it Hot
Sedum kamtschaticum is just one of many species of sedum that thrives in the heat. Those lava rocks aren’t just decorative; they keep moisture from collecting near sedum stems, where it could cause rot. It’s hardy in Zones 3–8.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The purple-tinged foliage of Sedum ‘Dragon’s Blood’ (Zones 4–9) looks great spilling over a curb. Here it’s paired with other drought-tolerant plants such as Nigella and petunia to create an attractive yet low-maintenance vignette.
Perfect in Pots
With their water-wise ways, many succulents are highly suited to container growing. A good example is this myrtle spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites). Its spirally arranged blue-gray leaves look great in this strawberry pot. It’s hardy in Zones 5–8.
Bring smaller succulents, such as these hens and chicks, closer to eye level in a portable container. This old wooden packing box is all the more charming when filled with these tiny delights. And the fact that you’ll have to water sparingly should actually increase the lifespan of the box.
Group for Effect
For a pleasing vignette, put several containers together. Link them visually by using pots in similar colors or materials. As for the plants, place tallest in back and stairstep down. Mixing up plant textures and colors helps, too.
One of the best-loved succulents is portulaca, the “forgiving” annual that won’t shrivel up and die if you go on vacation during a dry spell. Its bright flowers, which open to the sun and close at twilight, appear all summer.
Cheerfully rambling over these rocks, Scaevola is another forgiving annual. Its short height (typically 6 to 18 inches tall) and sprawling habit (up to 5 feet, depending on cultivar) makes it a natural for crevice planting. The lilac- to purple-colored flowers go nonstop.
For an energetic burst of color that can’t be missed, ‘Neon’ sedum delivers. The bright flowers last for weeks, and the lightly variegated leaf edges are a bonus during the rest of the season.
There are many diminutive examples of succulents, and they’re custom-made for miniature gardens or tabletop displays. Other plants would languish in such small containers, especially if a day of watering was missed, but succulents never skip a beat.
Subtle Color Variation
Add instant interest by varying the color of your plants, as seen here with the lime-green ‘Angelina’ sedum and the mid-green ‘Pachyclados’ sedum. To avoid a spotty, disjointed look, plant large ribbons of contrasting color when possible.
A Fine Mix-Up
Its bright foliage and sprawling habit makes ‘Angelina’ sedum a good bet for masking the sides of containers. By itself, though, the sedum wouldn’t have nearly the same impact as it does paired with the contrasting colors and textures of Carex and ornamental kale.
These hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) form compact, dense, evergreen rosettes that look great as a groundcover in rock gardens or a mounded feature in a container or hanging basket. They’re hardy in Zones 4–8.
You can look but please don’t touch! That would be the message of agave, especially this desert-dwelling Agave colorata. Its dove-gray foliage is a welcome addition to the summer garden. In cold-weather climates, you can overwinter it as a potted plant.
On the Edge
This Agave schidigera is sharp in more ways than one with its lance-shaped leaves trimmed in contrasting color. The foliage is spectacular enough, but summer flowers are also a treat. It needs to be overwintered indoors in most areas of the country.
Euphoria over Euphorbia
With literally thousands of species, Euphorbia offers a plethora of options for gardeners. Interesting in habit as well as foliage (as seen with this upright Euphorbia rigida), many species also boast colorful flower structures.
Everything by the Kitchen Sink
Don’t let the fact that many succulents are warm-weather plants bother you. They make great indoor plants requiring minimal maintenance. Bright light and occasional watering are the biggest needs. And you can let them “vacation” outdoors in summer if you like!