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Types of Succulents to Grow in Australia

Succulents have surged in popularity over recent years because they’re ideal for growing in Australian gardens.

Succulents are low-maintenance plants that can easily survive long periods of dry weather and don’t require too much fertilising.

In fact, the main problem that people will come across when growing succulents in their gardens is overwatering.

The variety of succulents available for growing in your garden is almost limitless but here are the most common types that you’ll see in Australian gardens.

Aeoniums

Aeonium arboreum Green | Plant varieties
Aeonium arboreum / Photo by domdomegg / Wikimedia / CC BY 4.0

This species of succulents is attractive and easy to grow. The pretty rosettes grow on longer stems so they can add some height and interest to your rock garden bed.

Around Australia, you’ll find that Aeonium arboreum will be actively growing in winter and will be dormant over summer. Ideally, you want to plant them in a sunny position in the garden, or at least a spot that gets morning sun.

It’s also important that you plant Aeoniums in well-drained soil. Sandy loam is best. Some popular cultivars to consider include:

  • Aeonium ‘Velour’ – with stunning dark red outer leaves
  • Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’ – with lime green leaves that have a rosy tinge
  • Aeonium ‘Chocolate Rose’ – with interesting dark red rosettes that resemble a rose
  • Aeonium ‘Mardi Gras’ – with colourful leaves in shades of green, pink, and red
  • Aeonium ‘Marnier Lapostolle’ – with rose-like rosettes in shades of lime green and bright pink

Agaves

Agave attenuata | Plant varieties
Agave attenuate / Photo by Phyzome / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

These are the ultimate in easy-care landscaping plants. In fact, there are more than 300 species in this group of succulents. They have a sculptured shape that lends itself well to more structured landscape designs and are impressively easy to grow.

You want to ensure that you grow Agaves in full sun and well-drained soil. Take care when handling them, because most have sharp spines on the edges or ends of their leaves. 

An interesting point to note is that each Agave rosette has the ability to grow an extremely tall and arching flower stem which is quite spectacular. However, this can take many years and once a single rosette has flowered, it will die.

Here are some of the more popular species and cultivars to consider for your garden.

  • Agave angustifolia – with long narrow green leaves that are edged in white
  • Agave attenuata – with blue-green spear-shaped leaves in open rosettes
  • Agave americana – with grey leaves that have a sharp tip

Aloes

Aloe Yellow | Plant varieties
Fiori di Aloe Vera / Photo by Diego7864 / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Most people would be familiar with the popular Aloe vera plants that produce a gel-like sap that is good for treating sunburn. But, there are a huge variety of different aloe succulents that come in all manner of shapes and sizes.

These plants really do need very well-drained soil because if their roots are allowed to stay damp for too long, the plant will rot and die. However, this makes them ideal for growing in rock gardens, especially if you grow them in a slightly raised position.

You’ll also find that Aloes can flower quite prolifically for most of the year. They produce blooms in shades of red, orange, and yellow. Some of the more popular cultivars include:

  • Aloe ‘Andrea’s Orange’ – with tall floral stems in shades of orange
  • Aloe ‘Bush Baby Yellow’ – with tall bright yellow flower spikes
  • Aloe ‘Ivory Tower’ – with wider green leaves and stunning cream-coloured flower spikes

Echeverias

Echeveria pulidonis | Plant varieties
Echeveria pulidonis / Photo by Michael Wolf / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

These attractive succulents are low-growing and produce almost symmetrical rosettes with leaves in varying colours depending on the species or cultivar.

There are even some varieties that will happily live in subtropical areas. However, all require well-drained soil and a spot where they get plenty of airflow.

Some of the more popular varieties include:

  • Echeveria ‘Dark Prince’ – with dark purple mature leaves
  • Echeveria agavoides ‘Christmas’ – with green leaves that are edged in red
  • Echeveria ‘Albaster Magic’ – with soft grey-green leaves in a perfect rosette

Kalanchoes

Kalanchoe | Plant varieties
Kalanchoe

This species of succulents has some very varied forms but the ones more commonly grown have green succulent leaves and brightly coloured flowers. Most of these are fairly small plants and will reach a height of around 40 cm. 

They add an interesting dimension to your rock garden and should be planted in well-drained soil and in full sun. Some popular varieties include:

  • Kalanchoe blossfeldiana – with the prettiest yellow flowers on stems above the foliage
  • Kalanchoe ‘Candy Cane’ – with masses of bright pink flowers
  • Kalanchoe thyrsiflora ‘Desert Rose’ – with rounded upright succulent leaves in muted green with a pink blush

Sempervivums

Sempervivum | Plant varieties
Sempervivum

Sempervivum succulents are often grown as groundcovers because they multiply from the base to form a thick mat of rosettes. That’s why they’re commonly called hen and chicks. They are available in a range of leaf colours from green to pink and red.

An interesting point about these succulents is that their leaves will often change colour throughout the seasons as the temperatures change. Most of these succulents have small insignificant flowers in white or yellow.

You want to grow Sempervivums in full sun and in well-drained soil. Additionally, you should only water them when the soil is completely dry. This is the case for most succulents that you want to grow in the garden.

Some popular varieties include:

  • Sempervivum allonii – a low-growing variety with green leaves
  • Sempervivum ‘Ashes of Roses’ – an unusual variety with symmetrical spiral rosettes
  • Sempervivum ‘Bernstein’ – large rosettes with mature bronze leaves
  • Sempervivum ‘Winter Beauty’ – another symmetrical hybrid with blue-green leaves that will change colour depending on the temperature
Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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