If you are looking for the missing piece for your outdoor or indoor garden, you might need a succulent that readily commands attention. And one of the best ways to command attention is to dominate the landscape. Here are some big boys that are more than ready to fulfill that role.
1. Blue Fox Tail Agave
The Blue Fox Tail Agave (Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’) got its moniker from the appearance of its leaves. The leaves are shaped like the bushy tail of a fox and have a bluish-green color.
The succulent can grow up to four feet and spread out to roughly the same width as its height. Upon maturity, the Blue Fox Tail grows out a flower stalk that can reach a height of up to 10 feet.
The plant prefers full sun although it can grow in partial shade especially in areas where the temperatures can get extremely hot. It is not frost-tolerant and should be moved in a covered area during winter.
2. Tree Aloe
The Tree Aloe (Aloidendron barberae) is recognized as one of the largest aloe plants in Africa. This fast-growing succulent can grow up to 60 feet in height with a width of 36 inches. Because of its potential to grow big, you should not plant it close to a structure.
Although this aloe is a relatively fast grower, capable of increasing its height by four to 12 inches per year, it should not be planted with other plants that grow faster than it. When overgrown by other plants, the Tree Aloe can be smothered and die.
This aloe prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It is prone to frost damage especially while young.
3. Golden Barrel Cactus
The Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) is one of the more popular cacti. How popular? It is so popular among collectors that there are more specimens in homes than in the plant’s natural habitat.
This cactus is a real charmer. Young plants have circular bodies. But as the Golden Barrel matures, it takes on a shape that is more oval than circular.
A mature Golden Barrel can reach a height of three and a half feet and a width of two feet. The cactus is a slow-grower and can be kept indoors as long as its needs are met.
Indoors, it should be kept in a sunny location. Outdoors, it prefers the full sun but can tolerate partial shade. This cactus is prone to rot. And as such, it should be watered infrequently.
Keep the plant out of reach of young children and pets because of the cactus’ sharp spines.
4. Mexican Giant
The Mexican Giant (Echeveria Colorata) is one of the larger echeverias, capable of growing up to 12 inches. Its leaves are fleshy and thick with pointy ends. Usually, the leaves are whitish-green. But when subjected to stress, the leaves can turn light pink or light purple. The leaves are also covered in farina, a waxy white coating.
The Mexican Giant thrives under the full sun. But watch the succulent carefully as it can be damaged by the sun.
Although it is a hardy succulent, it is prone to insect infestation. Mealybugs, aphids, slugs, caterpillars, and grasshoppers are some of the pests that you need to watch out for. Birds and mammals like deer can also feed on this plant.
5. Spiral Aloe
The Spiral Aloe (Aloe polyphylla) is sought by collectors, not just for its rarity. More than that, this succulent is a true beauty. This succulent grows up to one foot and spreads one to two feet wide.
The most striking characteristic of the Spiral Aloe is its leaves. The grayish-green leaves form a symmetrical spiral running clockwise or counterclockwise. On average, a Spiral Aloe can produce 150 leaves which are arranged in five ranks.
The aloe prefers full to partial sun. Younger specimens can be kept indoors. As for its water requirements, it requires less water than other members of the aloe family.
The plant originates from Africa where it is used for both magic and medicine.
6. Fire Sticks
It can be difficult to miss the Fire Sticks (Euphorbia tirucalli) succulent whether it is placed in a garden bed or a container. The plant just calls attention to itself. Also known as Sticks on Fire and Red Pencil Tree, the plant typically grows between four to eight feet.
The true stars of the show are the plant’s vertical stems which have red-golden color. Younger specimens grow a few small leaves which eventually drop as these reach maturity.
Before getting this plant, be aware that it is toxic, especially when ingested. Aside from that, its white sap is irritating to both the eyes and skin. As such, proper precaution should be enforced when handling it.
7. Jade Plant
The Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) is probably one of the most popular succulents. This popularity can be attributed to a few key reasons. For starters, the Jade Plant, known by other names like Money Plant, Friendship Plant, and Lucky Plant, can be grown indoors with minimal fuss.
The plant requires a few hours of sunlight, a well-draining soil mix, and warm and dry conditions, similar to the conditions in most homes.
The plant is also fairly easy to propagate. You can propagate either with leaf or stem cuttings.
Finally, the Jade Plant lives for several years when you take good care of it. In fact, in some countries, the succulent is passed down from one generation to another.
On average, the plant grows to about three feet when kept indoors. However, some specimens grow up to eight feet tall.
8. Dragon Tree
If you live in a coastal area, the Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco) might be the missing piece your garden is waiting for. The succulent is salt-tolerant and can thrive in both drought and dry soil. Plus, it is deer resistant.
Mature Dragon Trees can grow anywhere between 15 to 25 feet. However, it will take several years before your succulent reaches that height.
In the Canary Islands, some species are reported to be over a thousand years old. The sap from the tree has been used as a varnish for wooden items, including violins.
Young specimens of the plant have smooth stems and branches. But as these mature, the bark of the stems grow scales and take on a reddish hue.
9. Candelabra Cactus
The Candelabra Cactus (Myrtillocactus cochal) hails from the Baja Peninsula of Mexico where it grows on the hillside slopes. The cactus can grow up to 10 feet high and spread out to roughly the same size as its height.
Upon reaching maturity, the plant looks like a giant candle holder, with its semi-arced dark green branches growing from the woody trunk.
The Candelabra Cactus prefers the full sun with reflected heat. It is a drought-resistant succulent. However, during summers, you may need to water it more frequently.
It produces flowers between spring and summer. The cactus’s fruit is edible and delicious while its branches have been used as a firewood substitute.
10. Mexican Fencepost
Beautiful and functional are probably the two best words that can sum up the Mexican Fencepost (Pachycereus marginatus). This cactus originates from Mexico where the locals use it as a living fencepost, especially in homes located near roads. Today, landscape artists use the plants as an accent piece or as a part of a desert garden.
Given the right conditions, the cactus can reach a height of up to 20 feet. The cactus has a columnar trunk and produces neatly-arranged clusters of stems. The trunk and stems are deep green in color. It also has white margins on the body as well as small spikes located in the ridges.
The plant is best kept in an outdoor location where it can get full sun and ample heat. You can keep it indoors, provided that it gets enough sunlight.
11. Saguaro Cactus
The Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) is recognized as the tallest cactus in the United States, with mature specimens towering at up to 60 feet tall. Filled with water, this cactus can weigh as much as 4,800 pounds.
But this cactus is a slow grower. For the initial eight years of its life, the plant will grow about an inch a year. It is estimated that it will take about 75 years before this cactus starts growing its characteristic arms which are actually stems.
And this cactus has the patience to wait. There are reports that specimens living in the desert to be as old as 175 years old.
The plant thrives under the full sun and requires a fast-draining soil and infrequent watering.
It is prone to infestation of both mealybugs and scale.
Succulents come in an array of shapes, sizes, and textures. And although several species look good in small containers, some tower over other plants. Adding these giants to your collection is a good way to diversify your plant portfolio and generate interest in your landscape.