Succulents are so versatile that they’re not only ideal as indoor plants, but they’re also great garden additions. People are already familiar with the potted type, but they haven’t explored yet the crawling varieties that make nice-looking and unique garden floors. If you’re a gardening and succulent novice, try dipping your toes in the water with ground cover succulents.
The pandemic got most of us confined in our homes. While we thought that the quarantine would have lasted only for a few weeks, a year has passed, and we’re still mostly at home. Because we got nowhere to go, we’re almost running out of ideas to kill time. If you haven’t tried giving gardening a try, maybe now is the time for you to put your green thumb to the test. Don’t overexert yourself and immediately pursue sensitive, demanding, and hard-to-grow plants. Instead, try developing a small area of your outdoor space into a no-fuss garden laden with visually appealing yet weed-resistant plants.
Ground cover succulents and best rare succulents might just be what you’re looking for. You see, regardless of type, a succulent can grow beautiful flowers. The ground cover succulent variety is not only more forgiving to first-timers, but they’re also offering a lot of opportunities and benefits. Let’s get to know more about succulent ground covers and see if this fits your needs and preference.
What Are Succulent Ground Covers
It’s not hard to figure out what succulent ground covers are because their name is already a giveaway of its characteristics. They’re succulents used as ground cover. They’re versatile plants that can do well containerized or left on the ground to clump and crawl. They come in different sizes, colors, textures, and shapes; that’s why allowing them to thrive is fun and enjoyable. They are also drought-tolerant, so raising them is easy.
Benefits of Succulent Ground Covers
Over 50 genera of succulents plants, with a vast majority of them, make a good ground cover for their drought-tolerant properties. Aside from that, these varieties are also great xeriscaping plants. Remember, however, that many of them won’t survive mid to heavy foot traffic. On the brighter side, they only require little maintenance but offer a plethora of landscaping benefits like making your outdoor space more aesthetically pleasing. Plants vary by climate and zones, while most succulents thrive in dry, frost-free, and warm temperatures. Other excellent ground covers even thrive in moist, more relaxed conditions.
If you’re still unsure whether you need to start growing them today, here are some of its excellent benefits point you in the right direction.
The good thing about succulent ground covers is their ability to thrive despite being low maintenance. Most groundcover succulents only require minimal care, except if you need to remove dead flowers or feed them light once a year when the growing season starts. They are also disease and pest-free while also being poor soil-tolerant. Most of them can also withstand climate and temperature fluctuations — from frost to hot, dry spells. Senecio Serpens or blue chalk sticks are among the drought-tolerant varieties that can withstand cooler climates that could go down to mid-20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ideal for Xeriscaping and Drought Tolerant
Because most groundcover succulents are drought-tolerant, they’re ideal as xeriscaping plants. Some areas are water restricted, so you can’t be as liberal when it comes to the types of plants you can use. It’s good that you can find a suitable replacement for groundcover succulents. They thrive even if you place them in drier conditions. They can store moisture in their leaves, stems, or stems, significantly reducing the water they’ll need. For example, sedum, better-known as stonecrop, can tolerate a wide array of temperatures and soils. On the other hand, the English stonecrop is a drought-tolerant, low-growing, groundcover succulent that can cover hot climates.
Even when they’re not in full bloom, groundcover succulents can still offer visual interest. It has eye-catching textures, a plethora of shapes, and assortments of foliage colors to fill in stepping stones spaces. They can also create geometric patterns in your gardens. Various ice plant variants can even choke out weeds and produce colorful succulent blooms. For example, Cooper’s ice plant can produce purple flowers and cylindrical, showy leaves all summer long.
Some neighborhoods and areas are highly-susceptible to wildfires, hence necessitating precautions in keeping their properties safe. With the use of fire-resistant materials, these homeowners can use fire-resistant succulent plants for their landscape. These plants may not be fireproof, but they can provide your home with a fuel break from all the intense heat. For example, Sempervivum varieties like S. arachnodeum can protect homes from intense fire by serving as a pseudo firewall to keep the fire from engulfing the properties near them.
How Do Succulent Ground Covers Work
Enjoying your ground cover succulents is as easy as exhausting its many benefits. When you have a garden that has not been covered with turf, use ground cover succulents instead.
Though they can’t withstand high-volume foot traffic, they can still offer you a great view and a low-maintenance ground cover. They will also look best if you’re planning to landscape your property. They will complete the rustic, castle-look like that you’re aiming for. It’s perfect when you want to give your house a facelift.
Ordinary gardens or properties with retaining walls look plain without adding greens here and there. If you want to upgrade the look of your house or retaining walls, why not choose an area where you can landscape. As you plan your landscape, incorporate bricks, turf, and ground cover succulents for an enhanced impact. Your property will surely stand out because you were able to mix and mesh industrial with natural elements.
Pros and Cons of Succulent Ground Covers
- Ground cover succulents significantly stunt weed germination since they coat the garden floor thoroughly, just like a carpet. They make it easy for you to maintain and clean your garden since they already prevent weed ingress.
- They are a type of flora that helps prevent water loss and soil erosion, thus making them ideal for areas that need soil conservation and steep slopes.
- They provide insulation for the soil layer, keeping the soil warmer during winter and cooler during summer.
- They are also responsible for building the soil’s humus level by serving as its living mulch. There are a couple of ground cover succulent varieties that are considered good bulb companions. They can also be a habitat for useful insects.
- Most of these succulents are herbs that can be used as home remedies. A few of them are even considered as ‘food’ like spinach.
- These are suitable replacements for turfgrass in areas where the latter is not practical and available.
- Drought-tolerant varieties can even be planted near steep slopes and sidewalks or areas where regular irrigation is impossible.
- Groundcover succulents are natural habitats for pests, snails, slugs, and even snakes. This means that if your area is a known hotspot for snakes or slugs, it’s highly advisable to avoid growing them.
- These floras also compete with other plants for fertilizer and water.
- When using them for your garden, you should choose them carefully. They can over-run your vegetation if you select the variety that grows very vigorously.
- These floras are known to be weed suppressors, but you need to work hard to keep your landscape free from these weeds until they have fully established themselves.
19 Best Succulents to Grow as Ground Covers
Also known as stonecrops, sedums are evergreen perennials that grow lowly, making them perfect as groundcovers. They sprawl and spread out vertically as they thrive. They are also low maintenance varieties that only need very minimal care and attention.
They also thrive in various lighting conditions but mostly prefer areas with access to very bright light. Once they’re acclimated, they can tolerate and live under full sun. They can also withstand heat, even if they only get very minimal precipitation. Some of them are frost hardy, which is the reason why they’re best as groundcover plants.
Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop
More commonly known as ‘Red Carpet,’ Sedum Spurium is usually used as a groundcover for its cold and rigid nature. They are considered as one of the cold-hardiest types of sedums out there. Its leaves turn deep burgundy from reddish-purple or green when the lighting conditions and season change. They also yield bright, pink-reddish, star-shaped flowers. In terms of height, they go as high as three to six inches.
Blue Spruce or Blue Stonecrop
This variety is more known as Jenny’s Stonecrop or Petrosedum rupestre. They have blue-green colored foliage that quickly turns yellow or green with a hint of pink during winter, under the full, bright sun. They are also low-growing succulents that can rise only up to three to five inches. They are also cold hardy that can withstand snow and freezing temperatures, making them ideal as ground cover.
This specific succulent is low maintenance and low-growing, with bright yellow and lime green foliage. If you expose them to direct sunlight, their true yellow color shines bright. When they’re put under the shade, they turn into lime green. They can only grow as high as three inches, and they tend to spread outwardly as they grow. Anywhere you plant them, they will add an exciting pop of colors to the environment they’re in. Though they can withstand mild frost, they still need protection from icy conditions.
This variety is also known as ‘Hens and Chicks,’ and they come in various sizes and colors. They bloom better when they’re out there in the sun or put under bright light. They usually multiply by giving birth to a cluster of smaller babies growing around the mother plant, justifying its ‘hens and chicks’ moniker. Some of them also grow very large, while others remain tiny. Though they’re ideal as a ground cover because of their growth, they can also be grown in containers.
Cobweb Hens and Chicks
This variety is characterized by cobweb-resembling white hairs that covered a vast majority of the plant’s surface. They’re green, fleshy rosettes that have bases that turn burgundy in winter. These extremely low-growing succulents can withstand both freezing and scorching hot temperatures.
Moss roses are lovely rosettes with light green and magenta leaves. Its soft, tiny hair usually forms a line at the leaves’ edge, giving it a unique look. They can grow as tall as six to 12 inches wide. They also love bright light and full sun but can again grow in areas with freezing temperatures.
This plant variety is best known for its striking blue-green rosettes with wine-colored tips. Unlike the too-lowly types, fire dragons can grow up to six inches in diameter. They are also low maintenance plants that like full sun and bright light. Like its predecessor, it can even thrive in areas with freezing temperatures.
This is a large succulent plant genus with pointy leaves and rosette shapes as its distinguishing features. The plants belonging to this species vary widely – some are dwarf species, while others can grow as tall as three meters or 10 feet. They also don’t require thorough maintenance, and they thrive in various climates and conditions.
Blue glow are agaves that usually stay small and form solitary rosettes, making them best as garden plants. They like to be under the full sun, while they can also withstand frost. Because they have blue-green leaves with reddish margins on edge, they’re known to have a distinctive look. They can also grow as high as two feet and as wide as three feet.
Queen Victoria Agave
This plant is characterized by a compact, attractive structure with white-lined geometrical green rosettes. They won’t grow beyond their medium size. And since they’re generally slow-growing, they can’t take over your whole garden space. They can only grow one foot tall and two feet wide. They also prefer to be under the sun, but they’re also comfortable in mild frosty environments.
Rancho Tambor Agave
This small agave thrives as solitary rosettes, so it’s hard for them to take control of your entire yard. They are characterized by their broad and thick blue-green leaves, with teeth on their edges. Surprisingly, they can go as high as two feet and as wide as six inches. They also prefer to be under the sun, but they’re also comfortable in mild frosty environments.
This widespread and large succulent genus has huge tree-like and small dwarf-like species that can grow as high as ten meters. They usually have bluish-green-grey, fleshy and thick leaves. The larger aloe species prefer to be under the full sun and can likewise be planted in large containers or outdoor plants. They can tolerate mild frosty environments, and they’re also low maintenance plants that only need very minimal care and attention.
Red Aloe is a native of Zimbabwe and Malawi. They are medium-sized aloe that could grow as high as two feet and wise as four feet. Under the shade, the leaves will remain light green but turn coppery red under the full sun. They can brighten any type of landscape with its bright flowers and colorful rosettes.
Gold Tooth Aloe
This succulent variety is a South African native that usually forms rosettes clusters that could spread as wide as one to two feet. Because of their bright color, they make a lovely ground cover. Under the shade, it has lime green leaves, complemented with its white teeth found along its edges that may look sharp but are pliable when touched. Under the full sun or intense heat, its green leaves turn orange-red.
Also known as Aloe humilis, this variety is usually more rigid compared to other smaller aloes. It can also withstand long frost spells. Being native to South Africa, this plant has blue-green, pale leaves with toothed edges. This low-growing plant grows in clusters and could go as high as 12 inches. They are also low maintenance plants that are outgoing and able to withstand more prolonged periods of drought. Because of all of these qualities, they’re ideal for serving as ground covers.
This is a large succulent plant genus that comes in a wide array of sizes and shapes. Most of the succulent plants belonging here are adaptable to harsh environments and can thrive in many growing conditions.
Watch Chain or Lizard’s Tail
Watch chain succulents are native to South Africa, where they grow creeping as they branch out. They can only grow as tall as 12 inches. As they grow bigger, they also spread and sprawl outwards. It’s attractive because of its light green foliage and tightly compacted leaves surrounding the stem, emulating a chain-like look. They also yield minute yellow flowers.
Campfire Crassula or Red Pagoda
They are also called Crassula erosula. They are low growing, creeping, and branching succulent that could only grow as high as five inches. Its foliage remains lime green when kept under shade. When they’re exposed to the cold and sunlight, their foliage turns purple or red.
Also referred to as the evergreen succulent, fairy crassulas can grow up to 30 centimeters or 12 inches. They also have small, pink, star-shaped flowers. They can tolerate different lighting conditions and can even thrive during drought.
This sizeable flowering plant genus is family to other 2,000 members. Also known as spurge, Euphorbias are hardy, tough plants that can adapt quickly to growing environments. Its sap is poisonous and toxic when ingested. When left on the skin, it can cause skin irritation.
Donkey Tail Spurge
This is a perennial, evergreen succulent with trailing and sprawling stems. It has blue-green leaves that spiral over one another, giving the plant an interesting texture and shape. They look good in containers or when crawling on the ground. They also produce bright, attractive yellow-green flowers that shift into red-colored ones as they mature. They prefer bright light instead of full sun.
Crown of Thorns
This variety is native to Madagascar, with highly adapted characteristics that allow it to thrive in different environments. They can grow generously on the ground or indoors. When in full bloom, they yield pink or red flowers.
Upright Myrtle Spurge
This variety is a known Zimbabwe and Malawi native characterized by its medium-size that can only grow up to four feet wide and two feet tall. Its leaves remain light green under the shade and if they receive enough water. When put under full sun, its leaves turn coppery red. Even if you leave it under the sun for the entire year, it keeps its coppery red color.
This particular variety is a known South African native. It is low growing and often spreads out as they thrive. It has pointy and long silvery blue-green stems and leaves. This variety best grows under full sunlight and needs protection when planted in icy conditions.
How to Grow Succulent Ground Covers
Step 1 – Gather all your gardening tools
For planting this kind of succulent, you need such gardening tools as sand, gravel, trowel, inorganic mulches, well-draining succulent soil, protective barriers, and other gardening tools.
Step 2 – Check if your area is suitable for growing them
You can’t just plant them anywhere. To determine whether your area is conducive for ground cover succulents, you can check out and study the USDA Plant Hardiness Map. This will let you know your growing zone. If you can’t access this map, you can still check your soil’s suitability by digging an eight-inch trench in the area where you intend to plant your succulents. Fill it with water and wait for 30 minutes to see if the water dries up. If the trench you dug didn’t dry up, it means your soil will hold moisture and is not ideal for succulents.
Step 3 – Install your protective barrier
You don’t want the world’s best hanging succulents or your ground cover succulent to crawl on the space intended for turf or walking, so you should outline the form of a protective barrier. The said barrier will also serve as the guide of your landscape. You can use a surface-level landscape edging for this.
Step 4 – Plan your landscape
When your protective barrier is in place, you can start plotting what goes into your landscape. In the area where you intend to plant the ground cover succulents, amend the soil by topping it up with a thin layer of gravel or sand. Since succulents only have narrow root systems, they’ll be satisfied with loosely draining soil. Keep away from organic mulch as it can increase pest and fungal issues and hold too much moisture. Go for inorganic mulches like stones or pea gravel instead.
Step 5 – Secure that your succulents are stable
Make sure that your succulents are correctly planted. Ensure that the roots are in the soil. Water them sparingly.
How to Take Care of Succulent Ground Covers
Step 1 – Make sure that your garden soil doesn’t hold moisture
Succulents are sensitive to moisture, and too much water retention can cause their roots to rot. When this happens, you can expect your plant to die. So, make sure that before you plant your succulent, the area where you’re growing them is ideal for its type.
Step 2 – Avoid overwatering your plant
As mentioned above, they’ll die when you overwater them. As a rule of thumb, only water your plant about eight inches deep and allow it to fully dry before watering again.
Step 3 – Give them what they need
Some ground cover succulents thrive in bright light, others need full sun, while other species also require total frost. Know in which condition your chosen variety thrives and make sure that they get what they need.
Do’s and Don’ts With Succulent Ground Covers
- Try getting seeds and growing your succulents.
- Only use high-quality artificial succulents.
- Try using rain to water your succulents.
- Decide in favor of choosing the right soil for repotting succulents.
- Check the soil before planting.
- Keep your landscape free from dead leaves and dead flowers.
- Water your succulents sparingly.
- Plan your garden landscape.
- Refuse to take care and maintain your succulents because they’re supposed to be low maintenance.
- Plant first before checking the suitability of the soil.
- Use organic mulch around your plant.
- Refuse to clean the surroundings of your landscape.
FAQ About Succulent Ground Covers
How do I prepare my succulents for grounding?
You need to check the soil before grounding your succulents. To reiterate, check out and study the USDA Plant Hardiness Map. This will let you know your growing zone. If you can’t access this map, you can still check your soil’s suitability by digging an eight-inch trench in the area where you intend to plant your succulents. Fill it with water and wait for 30 minutes to see if the water dries up. If the trench you dug didn’t dry up, it means your soil will hold moisture and is not ideal for succulents.
What is the fastest-growing ground cover?
There are plenty of fast-growing ground cover succulents. You can choose from this selection – Wild Thyme, Moss Phlox, Trailing Periwinkle, Sweet Woodruff, or Aegopodium podagraria. Wild Thyme is the most ideal because aside from growing fast, it can also withstand heavy foot traffic, is drought-tolerant, and releases the same aroma as culinary thyme.
Can succulents get too much sun?
Depending on the variety of the succulent you’re planting, they can either be fully thriving under full sun or bright light. To make sure in which conditions they grow best, study the succulent you’re planting.
Can succulents live outside in winter?
Yes, as you found out above in our discussion about the 19 best succulent ground covers, there are plenty of varieties that can yield and thrive even in winter or frosty environments. Simply put, growing cacti outside is highly possible.
Succulent ground covers may not be suitable in any region, but they can also be containerized. You’re lucky when your home and garden are situated in a ground cover succulent-friendly area because you can enjoy its aesthetics and other benefits.
Before you think of planting this type of succulent in your backyard, make sure that you have already researched your growing region and on the adaptable varieties that will most likely bloom where you intend to plant them. When it’s your first time growing them, don’t fret. Just take the tips we shared to heart so you can fully enjoy your first-ever succulent planting experience. Happy gardening!
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