Succulents For Coastal Gardens

These do best in frost-free, low-rainfall regions within several miles of the ocean

Succulents listed here are ideal for in-ground gardens from the Bay Area south to San Diego (and Baja California). Most will do fine inland too, but depending on location may need protection from frost, strong summer sun and high heat.

Where to obtain them? Visit my Succulent Sources. Or shop online.

Learn more and view labeled photos in my books, this site's Varieties page, or by clicking links below.

For a lovely, easy-care landscape, combine:

Tall and tree-like succulents

These provide vertical interest but not a lot of shade. For that you'll need one or more waterwise, nonsucculent (woody) trees. Find options in the Companion Plants chapter of Designing with Succulents (2nd ed).

Beaucarneas (B. recurvata and B. stricta)
Dracaena draco (dragon tree)
Euphorbia ammak 'Variegata'
Pachypodium lamereii

Living sculptures

Large agaves:

Spheres: Echinocactus grusonii (golden barrel), Ferocactus species.
Columns: ceroids, especially Pilosocereus pachycladus (blue baseball bat)
Go to the Cacti page.

Mid-height and shrub succulents

I grow all of these in my Zone 9b garden NE of San Diego, which gets frost in winter and near-desert heat in summer. By necessity many are understory plants (in shade at least half the day). Downsides are leaf litter, and covering plants with frost cloth as need be. Along the coast, "west of I-15," the climate is so mild, you needn't bother.

Aeoniums, especially A. haworthii, A. 'Kiwi' and other branching types.
Go to the Aeonium page.
Agaves. Agave attenuata, A. bracteosa, A. 'Blue Flame', A. parryi 'Truncata'.
Go to the Agaves page.
Aloes, notably A. brevifolia, A. nobilis, A. striata and A. vanbalenii.
Go to the Aloes page.
Cistanthe (Calandrinia) grandiflora (rock purslane)
Crassulas (jades). Crassula ovata (jade) cultivars: 'Sunset', 'Hobbit', 'Gollum', 'Pinky', 'Variegata', and 'Crosby's Compact'. Also Crassula tetragona and C. perfoliata var. falcata. 
Go to the Crassula page.
Euphorbias: Euphorbia milii, Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire'
Furcraea: Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta'
Kalanchoes: Kalanchoe luciae (flapjack plant), K. pumila, K. fedtschenkoi, K. blossfeldiana
Go to the Kalanchoe page.
Portulacaria afra (elephant bush) and cultivars.
Go to the Portulacaria afra page.
Senecios, notably S. anteuphorbium, S. barbertonicus, S. crassissimus, S. decaryi, and S. vitalis.
Go to the Senecio page.

Small in-ground and ground-cover succulents

These are wonderful repeated and planted in swaths.

Agave victoriae-reginae (Queen Victoria agave)
Crassula multicava. One of the few shade succulents. Useful under trees.
Echeveria agavoides 'Lipstick' and echeverias 'Sahara' and 'Blue Sky'.
Ice plants, but avoid carpobrotus (pickleweed) because it's invasive
Othonna capensis
Portulacaria afra 'Variegata' (variegated elephant's food) and 'Minima'.
Go to the Portulacaria afra page.
Sedum nussbaumerianum (coppertone stonecrop)
Senecio mandraliscae (blue chalk fingers) and S. Serpens

Trailing succulents

Use these in hanging baskets and tall pots, and as cascaders in terraces and window boxes.

Cacti, tropical: Epiphyllum, Hatiora, Ripsalis, Schlumbergera and others.
Go to the Cacti page.
Crassulas, stacked:
 C. perforata and cultivars.
Go to the Crassula page. 
Senecios: S. radicans (fish hooks), S. macroglossus (wax ivy), S. jacobsenii.  
Go to the Senecio page.

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