I love succulents. My passion for these plants means that I have bought, begged, and even “borrowed” many different varieties along they way. I love coming up with a list of the best succulents for Florida to help others be their best gardeners too! I embrace my plant dorkiness and don’t even try to hide my enthusiasm when I see something new. (I have been told not to gasp with excitement when I see a great plant as Mike is driving though.)
That being said, I’ve also killed WAY more than my share of plants too! I think you can consider yourself a true plant person when you no longer feel bad about having a dead plant and instead think of it as an opportunity to plant something new.
Okay, back to succulents.
There are some succulents that grow beautifully in California and on the West coast and yet, even with the best care, will wither away to nothing after a summer in Florida. I’ve created my list here to help you get started with succulents that will flourish in heat and humidity.
My list of Best Succulents for Florida:
Stapelia gigantea, also known as Carrion Flower or Starfish Flower
Stapelia is an upright succulent that, although it appears to have spines, has a soft layer of fuzz over all of the stems. The stems are like a four-pointed star with very distinct “wings” in each direction. Starfish Flower usually grows 8-10″ tall and spreads as the stems root along the soil surface. This plant can be propagated by breaking off just a single stem and setting it on the surface of the soil. I’ve grown this in containers, hanging baskets, and as a groundcover in very sunny areas. The coolest part about Stapelia are the large balloon-like buds that break open to reveal the unique flower. Stapelia flowers are covered with small, fine hairs and maroon bands across.
While I like to call this Starfish Flower, the name Carrion flower is commonly used. This refers to the putrid aroma of the flowers early in the mornings. A really stinky plant smells like rotting meat. I think that there is a lot of variability in the “stinkiness” of these plants, and mine are not smelly at all. Once you see this in full flower you will agree that it is one of the best succulents for Florida too.
Jelly Bean Plant, Sedum sp.
There are several species of sedum that are called Jelly Bean Plant, and they all do well in humid environments. I love the red tips of this one and I think its a great addition to a succulent garden for the shiny leaves and great texture. Since Jelly Bean Plant is a relatively small plant, less than 10″ tall, it works really well in your succulent craft projects. Topiaries, planted frames, and many other projects will work well with this plant. I would even keep a few extra around so that you have a plant or two to take cuttings from when needed.
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, Flapjack Plant
One of the easiest succulents to find for sale, Flapjack plants have taken off in popularity and are usually available at most home improvement stores and garden centers. The large, flat pad-like leaves of these plants are easily recognizable. Most people purchase Flapjacks plant as a 12″ compact plant, and are surprised to see it lose this tight shape as it begins to flower and gets tall and kind of lanky. I usually cut the flower stalks off as they emerge because I prefer the compact shape, but this is personal preference.
During the summer months Flapjack plant is a light green in color, but it really shines during the winter months when the leaves take on a rose blush. The color change is a result of both the cooler temperatures and the shorter day length and is colorful addition to the garden.
Coppertone, Sedum nussbaumeranum
The brighter the sunlight, the more orange the color in this succulent. Coppertone has proven to be very versatile in my experience and is the most vigorous of these plants. It is really easy to propagate and a stem cutting takes off quickly as well as just letting the leaves fall to the ground and root on their own.
My three year old plants are less than a foot tall but are slowly spreading and becoming a large dense clump. I’ve read that this plant is hardy to 28 degrees and I haven’t seen it show even the slightest bit of damage at those temperatures. I think this is a plant that shows-off best with others. Growing a blue succulent next to Coppertone will make the orange color pop as well as make the blue plant look more blue.
Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’
A lovely rosette, ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ brings great shape and a light purple color to Florida gardens. Where other rosette plants like aeoniums will rot away, this is an echeveria that you can count on. It does so well that it can get tall and leggy, dropping leaves as it grows so that it almost looks like it has a little trunk.
If your echeveria gets that tall, simply cut if off and replant the top part. I think the only drawback on Perle is that the leaves have a white, powdery coating that when touched, can rub off and shows as an imperfection. I do love this plant in combination with the Coppertone and the two really compliment each other well.