succulents echeveria, crassula falcata

Sustainable Gardening: Top 10 Water-Wise Succulents and Cacti for Bay Area Gardens

Succulents and cacti have long been popular in Bay Area landscapes due to their striking appearance, low water needs, and easy maintenance. With new varieties coming on the scene and the resurgence of long-established varieties, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 succulents and cacti that will no doubt be standouts in your Bay Area gardens and landscapes.  Please Note: Selection may vary by location and season.

christmas carol aloe, spiral aloe and candelabra aloe1. Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)

Known for its medicinal properties and attractive, fleshy leaves, Aloe Vera is a staple for any garden due to its healing properties, drought tolerance, and ease of care.

Care: Prefers bright, indirect sunlight. Water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings.

  • Spiral Aloe
  • Christmas Carol Aloe
  • Candelabra Aloe

crassula succulent varieties campfire, curly jade, tom thumb and gollum jade2. Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

Jade plants have thick, glossy, oval leaves and can be grown as small shrubs or bonsai. Their long-lived and hardy nature, coupled with attractive foliage, makes them ideal for both indoor and outdoor settings.

Care: Requires bright light and well-draining soil. Water when the top inch of soil is dry.

  • Crassula capitella 'Campfire'
  • Gollum Jade Crassula
  • Tom Thumb Crassula
  • Curly Jade Plant Crassula ovata

echeveria black prince, mexican hens, cubic frost and alabaster succulents3. Echeveria (Echeveria spp.)

Echeverias form rosettes of fleshy leaves and come in various colors and shapes. Their stunning rosette shapes and variety of colors make them perfect for decorative displays.

Care: Needs full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between watering.

  • Echeveria 'Party Dress'
  • Echeveria 'Black Prince'
  • Echeveria 'Cubic Frost'
  • Echeveria 'Alabaster Marble – Rosebud'
  • Echeveria 'Mexican Hens'

agave and mangave4. Agave (Agave spp.)

Agaves have large, spiky leaves and are often used as focal points in landscapes. Their dramatic architectural form and low maintenance needs make them a striking addition.

Care: Thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. Water occasionally, more during hot, dry periods.

  • Mangave (a cross between Agave and Manfreda)

golden barrel cactus in landscape setting5. Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)

This round cactus with golden spines adds a unique spherical shape and vibrant spines that create an eye-catching focal point in gardens.

Care: Prefers full sun and sandy, well-drained soil. Water sparingly, especially in winter.

houseleek and cobweb houseleek hen and chicks6. Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)

Forms rosettes of succulent leaves and produces offsets or "chicks" around the main plant. Their easy propagation and charming rosette clusters make them ideal for ground cover.

Care: Needs full sun and well-drained soil. Water moderately, allowing the soil to dry out between watering.

  • Cobweb Houseleek (Sempervivum arachnoideum)

penwiper, panda and paddle kalanchoe plants7. Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora)

Known for its large, flat, paddle-shaped leaves that turn red in the sun, this plant adds striking foliage that changes color in the sun for visual interest.

Care: Prefers bright light and well-drained soil. Water when the soil is dry to the touch.

  • Penwiper Plant (Kalanchoe marmorata)
  • Panda Plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa)
  • Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora)

sedum varieties with baby burros tail and jelly bean8. Sedum Varieties

Sedums are known for their thick, fleshy leaves and often vibrant colors, making them versatile and resilient additions perfect for rock gardens and containers.

Care: Require full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Water moderately.

  • Baby Burro’s Tail (Sedum burrito)
  • Jelly Bean Stonecrop (Sedum rubrotinctum)

senecio varieties 7 different string plants and blue chalksticks9. Senecio Varieties

This trailing succulent has round, bead-like leaves that cascade beautifully, making them ideal for hanging baskets and vertical gardens with their unique trailing habit.

Care: Requires bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. Water when the top soil is dry, being careful not to overwater.

  • Senecio peregrinus (String of Dolphins)
  • Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls - Regular and Variegated)
  • Senecio herreanus (String of Watermelons or String of Tears)
  • Senecio radicans (String of Fishhooks)
  • Blue Chalksticks (Senecio serpens)
  • Ceropegia woodii (String of Hearts)
  • Peperomia prostrata (String of Turtles)

prickly pear cactus at SummerWinds Nuresry10. Prickly Pear (Opuntia spp.)

Known for its flat, paddle-like segments and colorful fruit, this plant’s distinctive paddles and edible fruit add both ornamental and practical value.

Care: Needs full sun and sandy, well-drained soil. Water occasionally, allowing the soil to dry out between watering.

General Care Tips for Succulents and Cacti

  • Bag of E.B. Stone Organics Cactus & Succulent Potting or Planting Soil and in the background a woman potting up an aloe vera plant in a white pot with the word love on itLight: Most succulents and cacti prefer bright, indirect light. Some can tolerate full sun, but be mindful of potential sunburn in extreme heat.
  • Watering: Water deeply but infrequently. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings to prevent root rot.
  • Soil: Use well-draining soil, such as a cactus or succulent mix, to prevent waterlogging. We recommend E.B. Stone Cactus & Succulent Mix.
  • Fertilization: Feed with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength during the growing season.

By incorporating these stunning succulents and cacti into your Bay Area landscape, you can enjoy a vibrant, low-maintenance garden that thrives in the local climate. Visit SummerWinds Nursery to explore our wide selection and get expert advice on caring for your plants.