Succulents are well known as drought-tolerant desert plants that thrive in the sun, but did you know there are some species that are better equipped to handle extreme heat? If you live in a region where summer temperatures reach 100 degrees or more, you may have seen a fried succulent or two.
Even though they are desert plants, some succulents cannot tolerate long sun exposure and extreme heat without periods of reprieve in the shade. With summer now in full force, what succulents can endure extreme heat and long sun exposure? Let’s take a look at 9 show-stopping succulents that will thrive in your landscape and garden this summer.
Who doesn’t love a bright burst of color? Aeoniums are native to the Canary Islands and are still found blooming in Madeira, Morocco, and East Africa. These succulents have dense, waxy leaves and form beautiful rosettes. They come in many different varieties of color, shape, and size. The Sunburst Aeonium in particular does well in full sun and heat. The tri-color succulent is a branching succulent that grows on stalks. The large rosettes that form are streaked in green and red with bursting yellow centers that will pop in any landscape.
Black Rose Aeonium
Another striking heat-tolerant Aeonium variety is the Black Rose Aeonium, which is known for its dark purple leaves that look almost black. The Black Rose’s dark, eye-catching color actually requires full sun for it to develop. The outer edges of the Black Rose will appear purplish black with burgundy red surrounding the bright green center. The dark plum tones with vibrant splashes of ruby red and vivid green provide beautiful contrast. This unique succulent will enliven any garden, landscaping, or outdoor space!
Sempervivum actually means “live forever” or “always living” in Latin. Though these succulents do have a typical life of 2 to 3 years, they seem to be “always living” because of the many off-sets they produce. Also known as Hens and Chicks, the Sempervivum easily and quickly self-propagates small “chicks” around the mother “hen.” These charming green rosettes are extremely heat-tolerant and will easily thrive throughout the summer and into the winter. They are low-growing, compact, and work great as groundcover.
Donkey’s Tail Sedum
Native to Mexico and Honduras, these popular perennial evergreens usually hang in baskets due to their long, hanging stems that can reach up to 60 centimeters. The plump, blue-green leaves are rounded and fleshy, and they tightly cluster on the long stems like densely packed grapes. This popular variety is usually hung on patios in hanging baskets, so people can admire the attractive hanging stems spilling from the pot. The long braided branches also look terrific on walls and balconies. The Donkey or Burro’s tail even blooms terminal red-pink flowers in the summer time. Though the leaves fall easily, each leaf can be used to propagate an entirely new plant! This low-maintenance succulent can tolerate full sun and most soils as long as there is good drainage.
Whale’s Tongue Agave
If you’re looking for a large succulent to take up some space in your landscape, the Whale’s Tongue Agave is a great pick! Native to the mountains of Mexico, the Whale’s Tongue Agave can grow 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The large blue-gray leaves grow in a pointed rosette with small spikes lining the edges. This succulent gets its name from the large, cupped leaves that look like a large tongue. Whale’s Tongue Agave is extremely hardy and low maintenance. It can thrive in the harshest conditions with some neglect. It is the perfect succulent if you are looking for a dramatic addition to your landscape that doesn’t need around-the-clock care.
Sticks on Fire
The Sticks on Fire succulent looks like vibrant coral that belongs in the sea! Its species Euphorbia tirucalli is native to the tropical regions of Madagascar, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and India. This striking succulent shrub looks like a cluster of pencil-thin green sticks with fiery red tips. It can grow into a large branching shrub or be trimmed and maintained in a pot. It can grow 4 to 8 feet tall in hot, full-sun and rocky soil. Sticks on Fire is a stunning addition to garden beds, borders, or other outdoor landscapes. However, caution and protective gear is advised when handling the plant since it will emit an irritating milky sap that can burn the skin. In addition, the plant is toxic if ingested.
Do you love cool, dreamy blues? Blue Chalkstick, or Blue Fingers, is a small, low-growing succulent that branches from the base and forms blue-green stalks that can turn purple in extreme heat. Of the Sencio genus and native to South Africa, Blue Chalkstick love full sun, heat, and well-draining soil. Blue Chalkstick provides excellent and attractive groundcover in large landscapes. The finger-like leaves can grow 12 to 18 inches tall and form a dense, creeping mat wherever they are planted. They also bloom beautiful white flowers in the summer!
Golden Barrel Cactus
This barrel-shaped cactus sprouts beautiful golden spines. The rounded, cushion-shaped cactus will start to lean over time to form a more oblong shape. These cheerful green and yellow specimens work great as focal points in landscaping. Extremely hardy and drought-tolerant, the Golden Barrel Cactus will thrive in full sun and periods of neglect. When deciding where to plant this cactus, make sure you leave room for offsets to form, which will cluster at the base of the cactus. These offsets can be removed, planted elsewhere, or used to fill in the garden bed.
Prickly Pear Cactus
Native to the Northeastern United States, the Opuntia cactus, or Prickly Pear Cactus, is recognized by its wide, flat branching pads. Prickly Pear is a well-loved, easy-to-care for cactus that will give any landscape a gorgeous southwest, desert vibe. The cacti can handle full-sun for eight hours a day and can tolerate some shade. However, the more sun exposure results in a larger plant and more flowers blooming in the mid-to-late summer. Though its sharp spines can be dangerous to children and pets, the Prickly Pear Cactus is nontoxic and even edible.
What’s your top succulent or cacti for summer?
Let us know in the comments!