Go beyond aloes and agaves

Aloes and agaves are admittedly awesome. So are the more unsung heroes of the water wise world such as aeoniums, echeverias, euphorbias, senecio, and graptopetulums. Not to mention graptoverias, crassulas, kalanchoes, and cotyledon.

Often pigeonholed for containers, these 10 genera belong on the list of superb garden choices. The past year I planted 40 varieties and 650 plants to replace more water-intensive and humdrum ones. (See My plants for current list). While most have done well in the ground, a few needed pots’ more controlled soil and weather environment. I learned three tips to avoid flops:

  1. A phrase like ‘good container plant’ in write-ups is a caution sign.
  2. If most online photos are a single plant or pot rather than multiples in the ground, it’s a red light.
  3. When asked, knowledgeable nursery staff can help differentiate in-ground winners from losers.

With 35 species of aeoniums, 100s of echeverias, 5,000 of euphorbias, 1,250 of senecio, 12 of graptopetalum, etc., even though not all are in cultivation, there are plenty to salivate over. Most need little water and provide a wealth of colors, shapes, and even textures to complement aloes and agaves. A singleton may be small so not a focal point like some aloes or agaves, yet sweeps of the same plant or vibrant combinations of different ones create rock-star impact.

crassulabluebird    aeoniumberrynice    graptopetalum

Check out these valuable resources to broaden the portfolio of possibilities: