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drought tolerant color

Succulents can add color with leaves and foliage. They work well with other plants, grouped together or alone.

Drought-tolerant succulents are plants that retain water within specially adapted stems and leaves. It gives them a greater ability to survive changeable climates where periods of dry would be lethal to other types of plants. All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. The adaptation for water storage has given many of these plants interesting and even sculptural shapes and forms.
Beavertail cactus

Beavertail cactus is a native Opuntia cactus in Southern California — perfect for an easy-care garden and lovely in bloom.

Some naturally have evolved to have decorative coloring or very showy flowers. With the uncertain climate wreaking havoc with so many gardens, succulents have not only proved to be useful to grow where so many other plants are failing, but they offer artistic shapes and color to the landscape. With more and more demand for drought-tolerance in the garden, plant breeders have produced more colorful varieties than ever before.

Because these plants usually have small root systems, (they don’t need to constantly gulp down as much water as other types of plants) they are ideal to use in small spaces like cracks in walls, between stepping stones, for green roofs in sunny climates, in vertical gardens or container gardens. They can also create impressive effects when tumbling down walls or carpeting hillsides.

Because the shapes are so varied – strings of colorful pearls, big felt leaves (Kalanchoe beharensis) mats of fine foliage (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’), or a crisscross of pencil-like branches (Euphorbia tirucalli), they are ideal to use for textural effects or even eye-catching focal points in the garden.

succulents in vertical decor

With their small size and ability to tolerate demanding conditions, succulents are perfect for creating living wall paintings.

Some succulents are more colorful than the average garden flower. The Echevaria family offers a rainbow of pink, purple and blue leaves on the “Afterglow’ variety, Aeonium comes in dark mahogany shades that contrast like black with other foliage, and many of the artichoke shaped Sempervivum plants are striped, spattered or netted with colors. You can find foliage that stays red, orange, yellow, green, bluish, purple, black or white – fuzzy, shiny, toothed or textured – all the time; no need to wait for blooms.

Giant cactus flower

Epiphyllum orchid cactus plants can display giant flowers in brilliant colors

Some offer exciting flower colors. Blooms can be found in almost any color, some large and exotic looking, some small but smothering the plants in huge numbers. Various plants known collectively as “Ice Plant” are well-known in warm climates for blanketing hillsides with brilliant hues in early spring.
Agave bud

This is the bud of what will be a tree-like bloom on a healthy agave.

The Century Plant (Agave) is impressive sending up two-story-high flower stems that branch into predominantly green flowers that look like trees and can be seen from long distances away. Brilliant red, yellow, orange and coral flowers bedeck many aloes while some cactus plants (all succulents) can produce flowers that dwarf the parent plant.

mixed succulent groundcover

A patchwork of multicolored low succulents form an artistic groundcover.

Use succulents to add color to hillsides, gardens (on their own or mixed in with other plants), or in container gardens. Their colors and interesting sculptural forms can create interest when nothing else is in flower.

colorful succulents

These are just some examples of the wide range of color you can find in succulent plants.

Most succulents can take periods of drought, sun and shade. Some can handle frost – even hard frosts. Double check the plants you buy to make sure they will thrive in your climate and where you want to grow them in your garden. There are so many different kinds of succulents; you are bound to find a number of them that are perfect for your landscape.