The Top 7 Hardiest Succulents (That Are Absolutely Gorgeous, Too)!

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If you’ve ever been to the southwestern United States or other desert climate, you know that’s where you’ll find the hardiest succulents. These beauties thrive under the scorching sun and drought conditions. But do you know about winter-hardy succulents? Adding some to your landscape means you can enjoy stunning succulents at home—even if your winters are cold. Find out which 7 succulents are cold-hardy, below.

Succulent Garden | Enjoy Travel Life

CONTENTS: In this article you will learn all about the hardiest succulents you can plant in your landscape, including:

Before we dive into the 7 hardiest succulent varieties, let’s make sure you know some basics about growing cold-tolerant succulents.

What are Succulents?

A succulent is a type of plant that stores water in its leaves. Their foliage typically looks thick and puffy for this reason. When in drought, succulents draw upon the water and nutrient supply they’ve stored. They prefer dry climates and do poorly in areas with high humidity. 

Succulents range from miniature varieties like Blossfeldia liliputana which grows only to a half-inch in diameter, to mega plants. For instance, African Boabob (Adansonia digitata) soars up to 82 feet (25 m)!

One common succulent you may have in your lawn is purslane (Portulaca oleracea). It’s also known as “pigweed,” “hogweed,” and “duckweed.” Homeowners usually treat purslane as a weed (hence the common names), but it’s actually an edible green suitable for your salad – provided your lawn is chemical-free.

Succulents vs. Cacti

Cactus in Bloom | Enjoy Travel Life

So, what’s the difference between a succulent and a cactus? 

Cacti is a botanical family that falls into the succulent group of plants. They store water, but they rarely have leaves and instead commonly have prickly spines along their stem.

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.  

Tips for Planting Succulents

If you plant succulents in your home landscape, once established, they will only need occasional watering. Even better, they can endure long periods of drought. 

This is a very convenient characteristic, especially if you like to take extended vacations. Just be sure never to leave their roots in standing water.

The good thing about succulents is they will give you some outward signs about how they are adapting to their environment.

  • If your succulent turns a dull green, it’s likely not getting enough sun.
  • If it turns a different color (“blush”), you may have shocked it with an environmental change. (Don’t worry, they are adaptable and will recover!)
  • Many succulents are easy to propagate by simply rooting a fallen leaf in soil or water. Other’s produce new baby plants when they are happy.

Now, that you have a good primer on all things succulent, let’s get into the details about which succulents are specifically cold-hardy.

7 Succulents That Are Cold Hardy

Growing succulents can seem to be impossible for those living in cold climates. Besides, they love sunshine and warm temperatures.

But the good thing is that there are some types of succulents that are cold-hardy and even thrive in snow weather.

So, if you live in a place where the temperature is chilly, you don’t have to worry about growing succulents as you still have lots of options.

Some succulents have adapted to withstand severe frosts, below-freezing temperatures, and snow, so they can endure whatever weather they find themselves in. 

Now, let’s look at some of these cold hardy succulents so you can choose which of them will be suitable for your garden.

1. Hens and Chicks 

Hens and Chicks | Enjoy Travel Life

The Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum) is a very popular succulent, and pretty much all varieties are frost-resistant. 

They can tolerate an incredible -30°F (-34°C) temperature—and are probably the most cold-hardy succulent on our list.

Hens and Chicks is often used as a ground cover plant in rock gardens or as a container plant. It can also be grown indoors in places with rainy winters to protect it from getting overly wet.

Sempervivum thrives well in full sun or shady areas and requires little to no attention to grow. 

But you must ensure that the soil surrounding the succulent is well-drained to avoid rot because of over-watering.

This beautiful cold hardy succulent comes in a range of shapes and colors, and you’re certain to find a suitable one to add to your colder-climate garden.

  • Recommended growing zone: USDA Zone 4 to 9
  • Soil requirement: Well-drained soil
  • Light requirement: Grows best in full sun to filtered shade
  • Water requirement: Reduce watering frequency once established. Allow the soil to dry before re-watering

2. Blue Elf

Blue Elf | Enjoy Travel Life

The Blue Elf (Aloe) is a hybrid plant that is popularly used for landscaping. Although, nobody is quite sure what plants are its parents.

The plant is not just cold-tolerant, it’s also sun and drought-resistant, making it an all-around gem of a succulent that flourishes in different conditions. 

The Blue Elf plant forms upright stems of blue leaves and can grow up to 18 inches tall and 2 feet wide when fully matured. 

The plant is generally loved by hummingbirds as it blooms attractive orange flowers from late winter to early spring in warm climates. The foliage produces a much-needed dash of colors in cold climates.

  • Recommended growing zone: Hardy to 20 °F (-6.7 °C), USDA Zone 9
  • Light requirement: Prefers full sun, but will also grow in light shade and tolerates reflected sun
  • Soil requirement: Plant in well-drained soil
  • Water requirement: Water deeply twice per month in the summer season and once every 3 weeks in spring and fall periods. Water twice per month, spring through fall if grown in low-desert gardens.

3. Queen Victoria Agave 

Queen Victoria Agave | Enjoy Travel Life

Some gardeners say that Queen Victoria Agave (Agave victoriae-reginae) is the most decorative among the Agave species. 

It originated from the Chihuahuan Desert region of Mexico.

Even though it’s under 2 feet (60 cm.) tall and wide when fully matured, this plant always stands out in the garden. The white leaf margins starkly contrast its dark green leaves, growing in a tight rosette pattern.

This small succulent equally makes a fantastic container plant and you can grow it indoors during the winter period in USDA Zone 8 and below. 

Plant the Queen Victoria Agave in rows for a contemporary design or next to boulders to get a natural look.

  • Recommended growing zone: Hardy to 10 °F (-12.2 °C), USDA zones 8 to 11
  • Light requirement: It requires full sun to maintain a tight rosette shape
  • Soil requirement: Plant in well-drained soil
  • Water requirement: Water deeply once per month from spring to fall and winter in the absence of rainfall. Water once in two weeks in summer if planted in low-desert landscapes

4. Upright Myrtle Spurge 

Upright Myrtle Spurge | Enjoy Travel Life

The Upright Myrtle Spurge (Euphorbia rigida) is another cold-hardy succulent worth mentioning. 

It showcases a lovely blue-gray color, providing an excellent color contrast when planted together with plants that have darker foliage.

The leaves of Upright Myrtle Spurge also have a unique spiky texture that beautifies and adds a decorative element to the garden and landscape. 

In addition, it produces flowers in late winter and spring, adding an attractive splash of color to to your landscape.

Upright Myrtle Spurge is native to the Mediterranean and grows up to 2 feet (60 cm.) tall and 3 feet (90 cm) wide when matured.

  • Recommended growing zone: Hardy to 0 °F (-17.8 °C), USDA Zone 7
  • Light requirement: Thrives best in full sun to filtered shade
  • Soil requirement: Plant in well-drained soil
  • Water requirement: Water in a low quantity every 2 to 3 weeks during the summer months and once per month in winter in the absence of rain

5. Red Yucca 

Red Yucca | Enjoy Travel Life

Native to northern Mexico and Texas, the Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) succulent is a beautiful plant to grow in your garden if you live in cold climates. 

Sporting leaves that resemble ornamental grass, it producing elegant stacks of evergreen foliage. It primarily flowers throughout the spring and summer period. 

Red Yucca grows stalks that are 5 feet (1.5 m) tall that bloom in coral-colored flowers. It is very attractive garden addition to hummingbirds, too!

Apart from the more common coral color, some varieties of Red Yucca succulent also produce dark red and creamy yellow flowers. 

Red Yucca can flourish in full sun, whether planted on containers or in the ground, making it a valuable addition to your garden and landscape.

  • Zone recommendation: It’s hardy to -20 °F (-28.9 °C), USDA Zone 5 (depending on the species)
  • Soil requirement: Prefers well-drained soil
  • Light requirement: Prefers full sun but will also grow in light shade
  • Water requirement: Water deeply once in three weeks during summer and once per month during spring and fall. The plant is drought-tolerant once established.

6. Broadleaf Stonecrop 

Broadleaf Stonecrop | Enjoy Travel Life

Also known as Pacific Stonecrop, the Broadleaf Stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium) is another succulent that is often used as a ground cover. 

It grows best in rocky, well-drained soil, so you will want to avoid planting it in areas where water will pool.

The plant is native to the western regions of Washington, British Columbia, California, and Oregon. 

Broadleaf Stonecrop produces small gray-blue leaves in rosette shapes, creating a pleasant-looking succulent ground cover.

During the winter months, the outer part of the leaves turns an appealing burgundy color to compliment the cooler temperatures. 

This cold-hardy succulent also grows yellow flowers in summer.

You can grow the Broadleaf Stonecrop plant in containers where it can trail over the edge, or tuck it in the nooks and crannies of a rock garden.

  • Zone recommendations: Hardy to -40 °F (-40 °C), USDA Zone 3
  • Light requirement: Requires full sun to filtered shade
  • Soil requirement: Thrives in well-drained soil
  • Water requirement: Water infrequently once the plant is established, in the absence of rainfall. Always allow the soil to dry out before watering again.

7. Parry’s Agave

Parrys Agave | Enjoy Travel Life

Parry’s Agave (Agave parryi) produces gray-blue leaves with maroon-colored tips that are incredibly beautiful. That makes it a fantastic addition to your outdoor garden (and a wonderful conversation piece, too). 

Most growers love Parry’s Agave because of its rosette presentation that resembles an artichoke.

The plant is cold-hardy to 0°F, and when it blooms at maturity, it produces a striking 12-foot stalk with bright yellow flowers.

Sadly, the plant dies immediately after blooming but you can propagate it easily with both seed and offset. The plant (not including the stalk) grows up to 1.5 to 3 feet (45 to 90 cm) tall and wide when fully matured.

  • Zone recommendation: Hardy from 10 °F to -20 °F (-12.2 to -28.9 °C), USDA Zone 5 to 9 (depending on the variety)
  • Light requirement: Prefers full sun to filtered shade
  • Soil requirement: Well-drained soil
  • Water requirement: Water monthly in summer, and water twice per month in summer if planted in low-desert regions

Final Thoughts on The Hardiest Succulents

Flowering Succulents | Enjoy Travel Life

As you can see by these 7 hardy examples, the season of succulent doesn’t end when summer ends.

You’ll find a litany of succulents that are cold hardy and can withstand as much cold as your winter climate. In fact, most of these plants can survive pretty well in below-zero temperatures so far you give them dry soil and full sun.

Adding a few to your landscape might be just what you need to remind you of a trip out west, or simply to add variety to your garden landscape. 

You’ll be happy you made the choice to plant succulents, especially when you find yourself gardening in a drought.

If you love succulents and the likes, check out this photo gallery that showcases beautiful specimens in a Desert Garden in Southern California. It’s one of the largest cacti collections in the world!