Succulents are all the rage and for several good reasons: many have a unique make-up that puts them ahead of the game in extreme heat. Succulents are composed of spongy tissue capable of storing water in dry times. And they maintain their good looks without a lot of maintenance.
Some of my favorite succulents are in the plant family known as the houseleek family. Many form rosettes of leaves, giving them a floral quality, but without the need for deadheading and other pruning. The other great part about this family is that there are a variety of shapes and forms to choose from. Their main requirement is a bright sunny spot, though some will even take a spell of shade if they have to.
The stone crops are all in the genus Sedum and most are low-growing perennials. Sedum acre is grayish with leaves that form small, whorled rosettes. Two other diminutive species are S. brevifolium and S. dasyphyllum.
“Live Forever” is just an English translation of the botanical Latin Sempervivum. All form densely star-like rosettes composed of many pointed leaves. Two commonly available species are S. tectorum and its many varieties and S. arachnoideum, called the cobweb houseleek because of the white filaments that cross from leaf tip to leaf tip.
Another group of ground-hugging plants are in the genus Echeveria and many are commonly called hens and chicks. Their leaves come in simple or densely whorled bunches that look like fleshy roses and the colors and forms are mind-boggling. From pale whitish green through bluish, to purple, bronze, red, and even yellowish tones, collectors can go wild accumulating them all. Then, there are the leaf shapes and textures; edges may be smooth to wavy to elaborately crimped and top surfaces may be cupped and smooth or bowed and covered with warty bumps (or both!).
Last are the many forms of Aeonium. From flattened dinner plate sized A. tabuliforme to the more tree-like forms such as the nearly black A. ‘Zwartkop’ and colorfully variegated A.‘Sunburst’, there are many selections for bold color and form.
Tough, sculptural, colorful—what more could you ask for in a plant family?