Looking for tips on the best succulents for beginners? Succulents are generally pretty easy to care for, but some are easier than others! Here are the succulent varieties I recommend for people who are brand new to taking care of succulents!
What are the Best Succulents for Beginners?
Chances are you’ve almost certainly heard of succulents and might even own one. If you don’t own any and are interested in dipping your toe in the succulent game, today I’m sharing 10 of the best succulents for beginners.
Succulents are amazing plants that come in a variety of gorgeous shapes, sizes, colors, and even patterns. One of their most common identifying characteristics is thicken, fleshy, juicy-looking leaves that hold water. This feature helps make them drought tolerant—they keep their own reserves of water on hand because they generally hail from hot, dry areas.
10 of the Best Succulents for Beginners
Because of this defining characteristic, they are super easy and patient as houseplants! As long as you give them enough bright light and don’t overwater, they are happy as can be. Let’s go over 10 of the best succulents for beginners and some of their specific needs.
1. Haworthia Fasciata or Zebra Plant
Haworthia fasciata, or “zebra plant,” is a gorgeous, exotic-looking plant that can withstand your experimentation as you learn how to care for succulents. It’s an evergreen succulent plant with short, spiky leaves that divides itself quite well, creating clumps. The leaves are thick, green, and a bit rough looking with raised white stripes and spots on them.
Like a lot of other succulents, they prefer bright light, but mine does perfectly fine on a shelf near-ish to a window. It has also been patient with me as it has outgrown its pot and I’ve waited months and months to get around to repotting it!
Zebra plant succulents do need well-draining soil. I once had a zebra plant succulent in a pot without a drainage hole. I set it outside on the deck and forgot to bring it on for a week or so. We had a lot of rain and it got way too much water, beginning to turn brownish. After I took it inside and let it dry out, it rebounded quickly. A perfectly patient plant!
2. Sansevieria Trifasciata or Snake Plant
You might not even realize that Sansevieria trifasciata, otherwise known as the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue plant, is a succulent! Many people associate succulent plants with small rosette-style plants that need a lot of sun and thrive in rock landscaping.
While snake plants can do well in dry landscapes because they retain large amounts of water in their leaves, they don’t need a lot of sun. And they certainly don’t have a rosette look. Their pointy, upright leaves come in a variety of different patterns and color variations, and it’s one of the easiest plants to find in local stores.
Unlike a lot of other succulents, snake plants can actually do quite well in low-light conditions. We have several snake plants, including one in the basement and one in Ramona’s room. These rooms often get very little light—mostly because Mike leaves the shades drawn or we forget to open R’s blackout curtains.
And the plants are still thriving! Sure, they’d probably like more light. But snake plants do incredibly well with neglect. In fact, they might actually do better with neglect than with too much attention. Overwatering is the biggest killer of snake plants. Check out my posts all about snake plant care and snake plant propagation for more!
3. Echeveria Succulents
No list of the best succulents for beginners would be complete without echeveria. These succulents are probably the most widely owned succulent. The are a large genus of plants with tons of different rose-shaped plants in different colors and sizes, though most stay pretty small. They are incredibly easy to care for if you give them the right home.
Echeveria succulent plants need a lot of light, so it’s best to have them in a very sunny window, under a grow light, or outside. They thrive outdoors for the summer in bright sunlight, and since they store water in their thick leaves, they don’t need a ton of water. Well-draining soil helps keep the plant happy as well.
If you don’t give an echeveria enough light, it will start to become leggy and unattractive. When a succulent doesn’t get enough light, it will start gradually elongating its stem as it grows, increasing the space between leaves and becoming weaker. The plant is literally searching for light. So sad 🙁 You can check out my post about succulent stretching and how to prune leggy succulents as well.
4. Sempervivum or Hens and Chicks
Sempervivum, also known as hens and chicks, houseleeks, and a bunch of other random names, have a very traditional succulent look. Its shape often leads it to be confused with Echeveria succulents, but they are different. Sempervivum is a genus of 40 or so species of plants. They are so easy to care for, too. In fact, the name sempervivum comes from Latin and means “always living.”
The name “hens and chicks” also comes from the fact that rosettes (hens) propagate themselves by generating offsets (chicks). They grow like weeds in warm, sunny weather too, and they require just a bit of care.
So if you want a cool-looking succulent plant that you can almost certainly keep alive, hens and chicks are for you, my friend. Unlike a lot of succulents, they can survive fairly hardy outdoor conditions, too. My parents have them outside all winter, and they bounce back very quickly when spring is on the horizon. Shockingly, they can also grow between rocks and in shingles on roofs.
5. Graptopetalum Paraguayense or Ghost Plant
Graptopetalum paraguayense—commonly known as a ghost plant—is a gorgeous succulent with leaves that are a bit longer and chunkier than the sempervivum or echeveria leaves. It grows rosettes on rosettes on rosettes—this plant has quite the spreading and trailing habit.
The leaves can vary in color from green to gray, and they can come off of the plant very easily. (Some people actually call the plant a “porcelain plant” for that reason.) If you’re repotting the plant, expect it to lose some leaves. Honestly they are so fragile that they can fall off if you look at the damn plant wrong. But the good news is that you can just leave them in the pot so they can start to sprout and grow new plants!
Ghost plant succulents need soil with good drainage and bright light. I’ve always had mine in a window, which has ample sun. They also tend to shed leaves near the base of the plant so the stem can trail a bit. If you don’t like this bare look, you can cut the stem off and replant it; it will root.
6. Crassula Varieties
Crassula varieties are probably my favorite type of succulent. I just love their intricate stacked leaf patterns and styles. There are about 200 species in the crassula genus, and most can even tolerate some frost. They are very hardy.
However, they like a lot of light and can get leggy and stretched out if they don’t have enough of it. Here are a few photos of a leggy crassula. I talked about how to fix a leggy crassula succulent in this post about succulent stretching. These are such cool-looking plants!
7. Crassula Ovata or Jade Plant
I want to highlight one specific variety of crassula, too: crassula ovata, usually referred to as jade, jade plants or jade trees. Jade plants are cool-looking plants that remind me a lot of bonsai trees. They have thick trunks/branches and gorgeous thick, shiny leaves that almost look fake. The color of the leaves is obviously a gorgeous jade green, though there are different cultivars with different looks.
When pruned or trimmed, jade plants really can begin to look like tiny trees. My mom has a gorgeous jade plant that she trimmed down last year. Jade is so easy to propagate that I took a cutting of the plant and literally just stuck it into some well-draining soil. A year later, it’s still going strong sitting on my windowsill. It has even started sprouting new babies along the stem! You can propagate jade from leaf cuttings as well.
Jade plants are excellent for your home because they need only about 4 or so hours of bright sunlight every day. My mom has hers in a room that doesn’t get a crazy amount of sunlight, though it is near a small window. It is still thriving.
8. Euphorbia Trigona or African milk tree
I don’t often see this plant recommended as one of the best succulents for beginners, and I’m not sure why. It’s cool-looking and easy. The euphorbia trigona or African milk tree isn’t actually a tree or a cactus, despite looking a lot like a cactus! It’s a succulent that does best on hot, dry areas. It can survive in colder temperatures, but it doesn’t like freezing and cold for extended periods of time.
It is so low maintenance, too. As long as you give it enough light (6 or so hours of bright light per day at minimum), and don’t overwater it, it will thrive! Watering the African milk tree too much is a sure way to make it unhappy or even kill it.
But even though this succulent prefers a lot of bright light, it can also do well with some neglect. My dad has a massive African milk tree that lives in his workshop. It isn’t the ideal light situation, but it has gotten so tall over the years that it really can’t go anywhere else! It has done pretty well there. In fact, it’s the plant mine came from! 🙂
9. Kalanchoe thyrsiflora or Flapjack Paddle Plant
The kalanchoe thyrsiflora succulent—also known as the flapjack paddle plant— is a really cool-looking plant that adds a bit of color to the usually green succulent landscape. The tips of its large, fleshy leaves turn red. My mom got me this plant several years ago, and it has been through some serious neglect. Not going to lie.
For a while I had it in an area where it wasn’t getting enough light (it likes a lot of light). This led the plant’s main stem to stretch out and get leggy—it wasn’t very attractive. To fix it, I simply cut the stem off, stripped the smaller leaves from the bottom, and immediately replanted it. It rooted itself and is still thriving.
As the leaves on the plant wrinkle or dry up on the bottom of the stalk near the base, you can just peel them off. The plant will continue to grow new offsets and leaves as long as it stays happy!
10. Beaucarnea recurvata or Ponytail Palm
This is another plant that you might not even realize is a succulent! While the word “palm” might be in its name, it isn’t a palm tree. It’s much more closely related to the yucca plant.
The trunk has a large bulbous appearance at its base, and the long, curly leaves sprout from the top to look like ponytails. The leaves are thin unlike a lot of other succulents—that’s because this plant stores water in its trunk, not its leaves. Ponytail palms need a lot of bright sunlight and don’t like being overwatered. You can read my whole ponytail palm guide as well!
Best Succulents for Beginners: Key Care Tips
I also want to go over a few general succulent care tips that apply to all of the succulents outlined in this post. Succulents are patient and easy as long as they have the right conditions. And giving them the right conditions just takes knowing a few things about their soil, water, and light needs!
What is the best soil for succulents?
Succulents need well-draining soil to help prevent them from staying too water-logged. You can pick up a premade succulent soil mix at any plant store. The succulent soil is generally just regular soil with additives like sand, small rocks, perlite, and other things.
The additives help facilitate drainage, allowing the water to move freely through the soil. This mimics the natural environment these plants generally come from: desert-like hot and dry climates. This sort of drainage is essential for succulents—they do NOT want their root systems sitting in water.
I often buy bags at the store but sometimes make my own if I have the supplies on hand. You can check out my recipe for how to make your own succulent soil if you’re interested in trying your hand at a DIY approach!
What is the best way to water succulents?
Speaking of, succulent store water for dry periods, so they don’t need watered that often. In fact, overwatering is a sure way to introduce problems for your succulents and maybe even kill them! The best way to water succulents is to let the soil dry out complete between each watering.
Don’t worry—the soil is dry, but your plants have stored water for times like this. Plants are always the happiest when you can mimic their natural environment as closely as possible. These are not rain forest plants. 🙂
What are the best planters for succulents?
The best planters for succulents are planters that help facilitate drainage. (Seeing a pattern here?) That means planters that have drainage holes that allow excess water to flow freely out of the planter. That said, you don’t have to have a drainage hole in your planter for your succulents to be happy.
I have plenty of succulents in pots that don’t have drainage holes. You just have to be extra careful not to overwater these plants. Adding a later of rocks or perlite in the bottom of the planter is also a helpful and easy way to create a built-in drainage area for excess water. I have a full post on how to plant succulents in pots without drainage holes if you’re interested.