Those of us who are fans of the vast scope and array of succulents are avid seekers of reputable sources of these amazing plants. Succulents make ideal houseplants and are perfect for novice to expert gardeners. They are remarkably forgiving and reward us with a palette of colors and forms, and often even spectacular flowers. Mountain Crest Gardens has a huge selection of the most popular varieties of succulents. If you are just starting out, or want suggestions for the top succulents to grow, Mountain Crest has the ultimate guide for you. They can also help stock cactus supplies like containers, soil, fertilizer and tools.
Cactus – Cactus plants are actually classified as succulents. We tend to think of these plants as desert dwellers, but many forms are native to rainforests and some are even found in alpine sites. There are clumping, mounding, spreading, trailing, and many other forms of these adaptable plants. The sizes of cacti range from towering 40-foot (13 m.) Saguaro down to diminutive ground hugging plants. Mountain Crest carries cactus varieties from the sought after Mammilaria genera to Euphorbs, Opuntia, Echinopsis and more. (Note: Not all succulents are cacti, but all cacti are succulents; cacti have the ability to photosynthesize with its stem. All cactus are native to the Americas – hardiness zones 3-12 in the United States, save one species. The spines not only protect their flesh from grazing animals, they also help insulate and shade the plant. Opuntia varieties produce red prickly pear fruit that is edible. Many require extremely bright light.)
Crassula – Crassula is derived from the latin word “crassus,” meaning thick or fat. They originate from all over the world, Africa, Europe, Asia, Americas, Australia and the south pacific. The genus Crassula includes over 200 species. Delicate, colorful leaves, thick sword-like flora or tiny organ pipe-shaped foliage may characterize the group, Crassula. These common houseplants come in so many forms it can be difficult for the gardener to choose among these easy-care succulents. In mass plantings, their striking colors (pastel, green, red, or variegated) make an expressive and creative display. Add to their impressive leaf forms and colors are a wide range of sizes, which vary from under an inch, to a couple of feet tall. Among the more unique forms available is Crassula ovata ‘ETs Fingers’ Jade, a whimsical plant perfect for indoors. Crassula ovata (ovata means egg shape) can grow as tall as 4 feet indoors and 12 feet outdoors in its native climate.
Kalanchoe – Kalanchoe are native to Madagascar and Asia with over 300 species. You may be familiar with these beauties due to their popularity as gift plants. Kalanchoe develop brightly colored flower heads filled with hanging bell-shaped blooms of pink, red, copper or spotted. The thick leaved plants have numerous foliage forms, often scalloped but sometimes simple or even frilled. Tones range from blue-green to almost silvery gray. They are easy to propagate from leaves or stem cuttings and in the case of Mother of Thousands, the plant can truly produce more babies than you can handle. Kalanchoe perform exceptionally well indoors but can also thrive in patio containers provided no freezing temperatures occur. The popular Kalanchoe tomentosa has many cultivars with some charmingly referred to as donkey ears, pussy ears, chocolate soldier and panda plant.
Gasteraloe – For those of us not familiar with Gasteraloe, they are a group of hybrid plants developed from Aloe and Gasteria. The majority of the plants have long, lance-shaped chubby leaves, often with brilliant variegation. Plants form dense rosettes of the thick, gently serrated leaves. They reproduce through offsets, which are simple to divide away from the mother plant to increase your collection. A stunning example is Gasteraloe ‘Flow,’ with thick rosettes speckled with white, warty bumps.
Aloe – Who can forget this gem of a succulent? Many of us are most familiar with the stoic and elegant, Aloe vera. As useful as it is lovely to look at, a number of Aloe species bear a rich history as a natural medicine. There are more than 450 species of Aloe, ranging from a couple of inches tall to tree-like varieties. Aloe produces two types of matter, gel and latex. The gel is clear found inside the leaf and is used for medicinal and topical purposes. The latex is yellow and used in products, like laxatives, and should not be consumed. Leaves may be in rosette form or layered, creating visually pleasing foliar interest. These tough plants may develop into trees, form grassy clumps or scramble merrily along the ground. Most varieties produce brightly colored cone-like flower heads, and many species can even withstand a light dusting of snow if grown outdoors in temperate to warm regions. Aloe ‘White Beauty’ is a silvery white specimen dusted with green accents and enjoys bright light.
Senecio – Ramrod straight, pea-like, seductively curved or delicately fluted may be descriptions of Senecio foliage. There are over 100 different succulent species of Senecio with nearly any color in the cool range, including dusty violet. There are even varieties with brightly colored leaf edges. Mountain Crest Gardens even provides a variegated variety with leaves etched to resemble ivy foliage. Senecio species prefer sandy, gritty soil and can withstand drought, making them almost foolproof indoor or tender outdoor plants. Blue Pickle Vine (Senecio radicans glauca) develops into a cascading plant with erect, pickle-like greenish blue foliage. String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) or String of Bananas (Senecio radicans) are other fun succulents in the genera to bring into your home interior.
Rhipsalis – This genera, with around 35 different species, is not as well known as the succulents Aloe or Kalanchoe. The foliage resembles little, chubby baby fingers, reaching upward in a simply charming manner, can be flattened like a Christmas cactus, or cylindrical or angular like other hanging cacti. Many forms sport rosy tinting on the tips of the leaves which are clumped together tightly. The name stems from the Greek “rhips,” which means wickerwork, referring to the reed-like shape of the leaves. Among succulents, these plants are popular due to their low light tolerance and ease of care. An impactful little darling is Rhipsalis neves-armandii. It has erect branching foliage with sprinkles of fine spines. (Note: Rhipsalis is included in the cactus family, although most species are native to the rainforests of Central and South America, Florida and the Caribbean and cannot survive the arid deserts that most cacti thrive in. They are epiphytes (largest genus of epiphytic cactus) and also classified as ‘Jungle Cacti.’ They can tolerate a few hours of morning and evening light but prefer shade, as they can easily sunburn or turn yellow. They also require more water than most succulents.)
Haworthia – Relatives of Gasteria and Aloe, Haworthia is one of the broadest species carried by Mountain Crest Gardens with just under 40 species available. Most varieties are native to South Africa and grow at the base of plants and amongst rocks where they can receive some protection. The rosettes sport leaves that may be diamond shaped, rounded, or even narrow and spiked, generally thick but occasionally with translucent panels. Colors range from many tones of green to bright yellow or even purplish bronze. Haworthia are slow growing plants, excellent for long-term succulent displays. They are not cold hardy and make the best choice for an indoor plant, requiring little attention, including little watering or fertilizer. Zebra Haworthia (Haworthia fasciata) has attractive striping on the narrow foliage, while Haworthia planifolia is brightly green and resembles a newly unfurled rose.