When it comes to ground covers, homeowners and gardeners usually go for grasses suitable to the climate they live in, and in general, succulents are just out of the question for this role. However, do you know that some succulents can make excellent ground covers? You’ll be amazed to see the variety in which succulents like Moss Rose and Royal Dewflower bloom, and how Creeping Sedum display a range of colors like golden, red and green! Provided your garden soil is well-drained, succulents can make wonderful ground covers. Here are a few of them.
Senecio serpens or Blue Chalk Stick hardy to growth zones 10 and 11 and grows 6 inches to 1 foot tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. It has 1-inch long blue-gray leaves that are upright and look like chalk sticks. This succulent is native to South Africa. This plant creates excellent groundcover in frost-free areas that may receive temperatures of 20-degree F. White to chartreuse flowers are produced in summer. Besides its color, texture and ability to spread, Blue Chalk Stick is also useful for erosion control.
Portulaca grandiflora i.e., Moss Rose has a height of merely 8 inches and width is 1 foot. Although this size may not seem ideal to you as a groundcover, this succulent actually is a groundcover because it creates a very wide mat. As a bonus, it produces flowers in many amazing pastel colors, such as whie, orange, red and yellow. Blooms too come in a variety like single, semi-double and double. Moss Rose has many other names like Rose Moss, Portulaca, Sun Plant and Purslane. It thrives in full sun, but the flowers open on cloudy days and at night, they ‘sleep’ closed. Unlike grass lawns, succulent groundcovers are very easy to maintain because most of them are drought tolerant. Moss Rose too is very tolerant to drought and heat. It thrives especially in soils similar to the ones in its native South American habitat, i.e., well-drained, rocky or sandy. You can grow this beautiful plant between rocks or even on a wall. Deadhead to stimulate blooming. Deadheading will cause self-seeding. USDA Growing Zones for Moss Rose are 2 to 11.
Agave Parry or Parry’s Agave is a smaller species of agave that’s fast becoming popular as a groundcover. Its height and width are 1 to 3 feet. It has a rosette pattern that’s beautiful as well as useful for water retention. It’s native to American Southwest and Mexico and looks interesting alongside boulders. In home gardens, it looks amazing when grown in a landscape of white rocks. This plant loves low-desert climates where full sun and intense heat would cause some other succulents like Creeping Sedum to struggle. Some varieties of Parry’s Agave are even hardy to 10-degree F. Growing zones are 7b to 10a.
The extremely beautiful Echeveria is native to Texas and Central America and forms tight rosettes of thick, fleshy leaves with a waxy cuticle on their exterior. The height and width of this slow-growing succulent are 12 inches. There are as many as 150 cultivated varieties of Echeveria and there are so many colors among them to choose from. An assorted variety can produce interesting colors, whereas selecting only one variety can form a more cohesive low landscape. Echeveria thrives in desert conditions and will only tolerate moisture if it can dry out in between waterings. You should plant it in full sun and well-drained soil. It’s one of the easiest to grow succulents and highly popular. Each plant produces baby plants i.e., offsets around the ‘mother rosette’. Just pinch them carefully and replant and enjoy watching your groundcover grow. USDA Growing zones are 9 to 12. It offers colors like blue, red, purple, green etc.
Native to South Africa, Drosanthemum speciosum or Royal Dewflower covers the ground with vibrant blooms in shades of red, pink and purple. Its leaves are narrow and cool, gray-green. Its flowers are extremely prolific and almost cover the foliage in summer. The plant grows to up to 6 inches to 1 foot of height, and its roots spread up to 3 feet wide. It’s hardy to 20-degree F and thrives in full sun or partial shade. Its USDA Growing zones are 9 to 11.
Graptopetalum paraguayense or Ghost Plant looks similar to the rosette-shaped Echeveria, but is even hardier, tolerating temperatures as low as 10-degree F. its height is between 6 inches and 1 foot. It grows in 14- to 20-inch-wide clumps. Its leaves are covered with a powder coating called ‘pruinose’ due to which the plant gets its characteristic ghostly look. The plant also has an ability to change color. Full sun is best for it when it tends to remain a translucent yellowish-pink, whereas in partial shade, blue-gray tones will be produced in leaves. In too hot conditions, leaves may become gray with pink overtones. In mid-spring, the plant grows star-shaped yellow or white flowers from trailing stems that are brittle and should be handled delicately. So, the plant is ideal for areas with no foot traffic. Its ideal Growth zones are 7b to 13b.
Also known as Caucasian Stonecrop, Creeping Sedum or Sedum spurium is native to the Caucasus region of eastern Europe. This succulent loves heat up to 40-degree F. it reaches a height of 3 to 6 inches upon maturity and becomes 1 to 2 feet wide. This succulent looks very attractive as a groundcover because of its tightly whorled leaves and star-shaped pink flowers that attract butterflies. Its variety S. spurium ‘Red Carpet’ displays leaves with a red tinge and another variety S. reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’ is blue-gray. Still, another variety S. rupestre ‘Angelina’ features spiky golden leaves with a red and orange tinge. Although sedum loves full sun, a variety S. makinoi, with green leaves, along with its golden cultivar, S. makinoi ‘Ogon’ are tolerant to shade and more moisture than others. The plant’s common name ‘stonecrop’ suggests its ability to add life even between cracks of a stone wall where its leaves store water in hot, arid environments. The USDA Growing zones for this succulent is 4 to 9. It thrives well even in poor or average soils, provided it’s well-drained.
Reading about these beautiful succulents, you’re sure to consider them to grow as groundcovers. So, have you started looking for one of them?