8 Impressive Black Succulent Varieties

Tree houseleek with black leaves.

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Plants with dark leaves add wonderful interest to your landscape. One plant group that has several examples of such plants is the succulents. It's a group that includes cacti. All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. "Cactus" is a botanical family, while "succulent" refers to a broader group consisting of several botanical families.

While some plants are almost a true black, many black plants are actually just a dark purple or, less often, a dark blue. But regardless of their precise shade, their dark leaves can serve to provide a striking color contrast with plants that have bright leaves (for example, golden foliage). Some of them have attractive flowers, too, but people grow them more often for their foliage. Many succulents are also great low-maintenance alternatives to plants that demand more of your attention. Thanks to their drought-tolerance, they are just the thing for gardeners who do not have enough time for plant care to be constantly watering plants that can't get through a dry period on their own. Learn about eight great choices in succulents with dark foliage.

  • 01 of 08

    Black Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)

    A group of Sempervivums with dark-tipped foliage.


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    Many types of hens and chicks (or "houseleeks") have dark foliage. The aptly named Sempervivum 'Black' is just one of them. Often, the types of hens and chicks plants that qualify as black plants bear their dark color at the tips of the leaves. Plant the chartreuse/golden Angelina stonecrop (Sedum rupestre 'Angelina') as a companion plant to create a nice color contrast.

    • USDA Zones: 3 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Height: 6 to 12 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained; drought-tolerant
  • 02 of 08

    Black Zebra Cactus, or "Haworthia" (Haworthiopsis limifolia)

    Black haworthia in white container.


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    The Haworthias will remind many of Aloe vera plants. Both are treated as houseplants in the North. The raised spots on Haworthiopsis limifolia are bumpy to the touch; visually, since they are brighter than the rest of the leaf surface, they stand out in contrast.

    • USDA Zones: 9 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 6 to 12 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained; drought-tolerant
  • 03 of 08

    Mexican (or Black Prince) Hens and Chicks (Echeveria 'Black Prince')

    Closeup of Black Prince Echeveria.


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    Sempervivum plants and Echeveria plants are very similar in appearance; in fact, both can have the common name of "hens and chicks." But the former usually bear small teeth along their leaf margins, while the leaf margins of the latter are smooth. A more important difference between them is this: Sempervivum is very cold-hardy, while Echeveria is not.

    • USDA Zones: 9 to 12
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Height: Usually about 4 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained; drought-tolerant
  • 04 of 08

    Purple Wood Spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Purpurea')

    Wood spurge with dark leaves.
    David Beaulieu

    This evergreen perennial also boasts good deer resistance. Greenish-black leaves, chartreuse bracts, and red stems all combine to ensure that this plant will add interest to any rock garden.

    • USDA Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 12 to 18 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained; drought-tolerant
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Black Knight Hens and Chicks (Echeveria affinis ‘Black Knight’)

    Black Knight Echeveria plant.

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    Another strikingly black plant in this genus, along with Echeveria 'Black Prince,' is Echeveria 'Black Knight.' It's especially attractive when it develops new leaves: There's a contrast between the lighter inner leaves (which is the new growth) of the rosette and the darker outer leaves. As with all succulents, the latter should be removed as they die so as to prevent their harboring aphids and other pests.

    • USDA Zones: 9 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Height: 6 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained; drought-tolerant
  • 06 of 08

    Black Rose Tree Houseleek (Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop')

    Several stalks of Aeonium with black leaves.

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    Do not confuse "houseleek" with "tree houseleek." As the "tree" in the common name suggests, the latter is a taller plant (although hardly a tree). And if you miss the distinction in the common name, remember that the species name, arboreum, comes from the Latin arboreus, meaning "of a tree." Take advantage of this plant's height (relative to many other succulents) and place it in the center (or to the back) of any grouping of succulents, so that it serves as a focal point.

    • USDA Zones: 9 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial sun
    • Height: 3 to 4 feet
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained; drought-tolerant
  • 07 of 08

    Chocolate Drop Stonecrop (Sedum 'Chocolate Drop')

    'Chocolate Drop' sedum with dark leaves.
    David Beaulieu

    Chocolate Drop is just one of many cultivars of stonecrop, the best-known cultivar being 'Autumn Joy.' But Chocolate Drop has much more interesting foliage than does its better-known relative: a rich burgundy that approaches black at times. Chocolate Drop also sports pink flower clusters that are reasonably attractive. It does tend to flop over, so give it support for the best display value.

    • USDA Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Height: 1 foot
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained; drought-tolerant
  • 08 of 08

    Blue Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus glaucescens)

    Blue Barrel cactus closeup.

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    The Blue Barrel cactus is such a deep blue that some people think of it as a black succulent. Those who seek a more truly black cactus may prefer Echinopsis ancistrophora 'Arachnacantha.' Watch out for the thorns if you have kids playing in the yard. Yellow flowers add interest to the foliage.

    • USDA Zones: 9 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Height: 1 to 2 feet
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained; drought-tolerant