How to Use Succulents in Your Landscape
Succulents are all the craze these days, and for good reason: They offer interesting foliage colors and shapes and do so without using a lot of water. And while creating gardens using solely succulents is very on trend, simply mixing some succulents into a more traditional perennial planting can help modernize the landscape.
As a Focal Point
Taller succulents can serve as dramatic focal points in sunny, low-water landscapes. One of our favorite succulents, Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’ also commonly known as Pencil Cactus is a stunning specimen. This uniquely shaped, narrow plant reaches 4-8’ tall and 3-5’ wide, creating a very upright, columnar feature. The stems and foliage provide beautiful warm colors. In the summer months plants turn yellow, mostly on the newer growth. Then in the winter, stems turns a fiery red. Perennials we love to see planted alongside ‘Firesticks’ include salvia, yucca and the bright blooms of Lantana ‘New Gold’.
As a Shrub
Looking for a modern alternative to traditional shrubs? When you’re going to for low-maintenance and low-water style, consider using succulent plants as your landscape “shrubs”. Rainbow Bush, Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’, is the perfect choice. This unique plant grows in a dense mounded form with bright red stems and pale green, thick, variegated leaves.
Containers & Garden Borders
Don’t forget about adding succulents to containers and throughout garden borders. To break up flowering perennial or annual plantings, echeverias provide striking foliage contrast. Though echeveria do flower, their rosettes of foliage are their best feature. Echeveria ‘Black Prince’ sports deep purple foliage perfect for pairing with other chartreuse, bright green or red foliage plants. Another favorite Echeveria is ‘Perle von Nurnberg’, which offers beautiful powdery grey leaves with pink undertones.
Before planting your succulents, be sure to check your hardiness zones. In colder zones succulents can still be planted, but are best used in containers that can be moved inside for the winter. If your climate has intense sun during the summer, most succulents will appreciate some shade in the late afternoon.