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The Easiest and Best Succulents You Can Grow Outside

Renee Valdes
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Difficulty: Beginner
Duration: Varies
Stonecrop sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Planting succulents outdoors makes for easy work of any gardener. These low-maintenance beauties can survive drought and most love the heat.

Succulents You Can Grow Outside

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

If you’re looking for succulents you can grow outside in a garden bed or in containers in your outdoor space, only a handful of succulents grow as perennials and can survive cold, snow, frost and freeze, including the sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ above. Here are more hardy succulents:

  • Most sedums
  • Sempervivums (Hens and Chicks)
  • Some varieties of prickly pear

Don’t worry though. You can plant and enjoy any indoor succulent outside when you treat them as annuals. Plant them in containers and bring them indoors during cooler months.

Growing Hardy Sedums

Sedum tile

Depending on species, most sedums thrive as perennials in USDA Hardiness zones 3 to 9. Sedums prefer full sun but these resilient plants can take periods in the shade and without water, making them an easy choice for outdoor gardens.

Once established, perennial sedums return like clockwork. Try sedum tiles for crawling and sprawling groundcover, says Bob Reidmuller, resident horticulturist with Altman Plants, the nation’s largest wholesale producer of cactuses and succulents and a supplier to The Home Depot. 

Reidmuller says that versatile sedum tiles come with a variety of succulents in an array of colors from lime green and silver to red and orange. The above features ‘Weihenstephaner Gold’ and ‘Voodoo’ sedums to name a few.

The ‘Autumn Joy’ stonecrop sedum grows upright to several feet tall with bright succulent leaves and star-shaped flowers on top that beckon butterflies and other pollinators. 

Sedums as Annuals and for warmer areas

Lemon Coral sedum by Proven Winners

Lemon Coral sedum by Proven Winners is a perennial-growing beauty in USDA Hardiness zones 7 to 11. It can also be grown as an annual in cooler regions – and it’s worth it.

With its crisp citrus-like color, it plays well with flowers and foliage. Lemon Coral sedum spills beautifully over the sides of containers and is just as lovely as a groundcover in your landscape.

It’s worth growing this sedum because of its easy and carefree nature. You can trim it to fit your containers and use the remnants to plant elsewhere.  

Growing Hens and Chicks

Sempervivums, or hens and chicks, in a rock garden

Sempervivum perennial succulents grow in clumps of rosettes forming in colors of green, silver, red and more. Rosettes produce little plantlets, or chicks, that can be divided to form new plants if desired.

Sempervivums prefer sunny areas and require planting in well-draining soil. 

Growing Prickly Pear

Eastern prickly pear cactus

Though cacti typically fall into a different category of succulents, some prickly pear varieties can grow in cooler regions, including the Eastern prickly pear.

Don’t let the thick, fleshy pads filled with spines deter you from growing this cactus plant. These full sun lovers typically flower in summer. Their fruit is edible and delicious, though they taste the sweetest when harvested in the morning. Fun fact: their fleshy pads can also be eaten.

Prickly pear easily propagate and provide a unique look in any landscape where grown. Use a pruning saw to cut off pieces to propagate.

To plant, wear thick clothing and gloves to guard against spines. Plant in full sun in well-draining soil and be cautious when handling as the pads get heavy and could break off.

Because prickly pear tolerate drought conditions well, water once a month for the first year and twice a month in summer. 

Growing Succulents in Containers

Succulents in an outdoor hypertufa cement pot

Because growing succulents outside isn’t always an option for colder regions or those that experience snow, frost and freezing temperatures, you can always grow them in planters.

Better yet, add a plant caddy underneath your planter so you can wheel them around easily when the weather shifts.

When you grow succulents in containers, it’s easy to create almost any combination using a variety of colors and textures. Place planters in full sun in well-draining succulent and cactus potting mix.

Learn how to make a rustic hypertufa planter for succulents for added beauty when decorating with them in your space. Get tips for filling pretty pots with succulents

Get more ideas on success with succulents, including how to identify and fix problems.

Got questions about this article or any other garden topic? Go here now to post your gardening ideas, questions, kudos or complaints. We have gardening experts standing by to help you!