Best Succulent Ground Covers

Blue chalkstick plant in Mexico

Andrea Macias / Unsplash 

When looking for a plant to carpet a sunny, dry spot in the garden, explore the world of succulents. Some put on a show of flowers while others shine in the realm of particularly hot or cool colored foliage. Moss Rose and Royal Dewflower bloom in a variety of pastel shades. Creeping sedum comes in golden, green, and red, and is hardy to zone 4 unlike many other succulents that thrive in frost-free areas of the United States. Generally, in well-drained soil, a succulent would make a splendid groundcover. These plants can give a textured, unique look to any garden. Here are 7 succulents that are best for groundcovers:

  • 01 of 07

    Moss Rose

    Moss Rose

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    Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora) can reach eight inches tall and one foot wide. Such height may not sound ideal as a groundcover to you. It is, indeed, a groundcover, as it forms a very wide matt. Flowers come in many pastel colors. Varieties offer single, semi-double, and double blooms. This plant thrives in full sun so much so that the flowers open on cloudy days and "sleep" closed in the night. Like many succulents, the Moss Rose is very tolerant of drought and heat and the plant thrives in soils akin to its native South American that are well-drained sandy or rocky. Establish between rocks or on a wall. Deadhead to encourage blooming; deadheading will lead to self-seeding. Other common names for this succulent groundcover include Portulaca, Purslane, Rose Moss, and Sun Plant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Red, Orange, Yellow, White
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained sandy or rocky
  • 02 of 07

    Creeping Sedum

    Blooming Caucasian Stonecrop (Sedum spurium) of the Crassulaceae family.

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    Creeping sedum is also known as Caucasian Stonecrop (Sedum spurium). Native to the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe, this succulent will grow in 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Its mature size is three to six inches tall and one to two feet wide. Tightly whorled leaves form an attractive groundcover and give life to star-shaped pink flowers that attract butterflies. S. spurium ‘Red Carpet’ display red-tinged leaves and S. reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’ is blue-gray. S. rupestre 'Angelina' has spiky golden foliage tinted with red and orange. While sedum prefers full sun, S. makinoi, a green-leaved species, and its golden cultivar, S. makinoi “Ogon” tolerate shade and more moisture than others. The common name "stonecrop" alludes to the plant's ability to add life even between cracks of a stone wall where leaves store water in hot, dry environments.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Blue-gray, Green, Golden, Red
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained Poor or Average
  • 03 of 07

    Echeveria

    Echeveria

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    Echeveria spp. create thick-leaved rosettes. Fleshy leaves have a waxy cuticle on the exterior. This succulent grows slowly up to 12 inches high or wide. Of the 150 cultivated varieties of Echeveria, there are many colors to choose from. As a groundcover, an assorted variety can create interest in color while selecting only one variety can create a more cohesive low landscape. Native to Texas and Central America, the plant thrives in desert conditions and will only tolerate moisture if it is able to dry out in between. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil. Among the easiest succulents to grow, they are popular for a reason. Each produces offsets or baby plants tucked around the "mother rosette." Carefully pinch the baby, replant, and watch your groundcover grow.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 12
    • Color Varieties: Green, Purple, Red, Blue, etc.
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained blend of sand, topsoil, and compost
  • 04 of 07

    Ghost Plant

    Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense)

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    Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) resembles the rosette shaped Echeveria yet it is even more hardy, surviving temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. This succulent grows between six inches and one foot tall and grows in clumps that are 14 to 20 inches wide. Powdery coating known as "pruinose" covers the leaves, which gives them a characteristic ghostly look. Ghost plants have the ability to change color. Full sun is best where they tend to remain a translucent yellowish-pink. In partial shade, the leaves will produce blue-gray tones. If placed in too hot conditions, leaves may turn gray with pink overtones. Star-shaped white or yellow flowers rise up in mid-spring from trailing stems, which are brittle and must be managed delicately, making the plant ideal for areas with no foot traffic.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7b to 13b
    • Color Varieties: Blue-grey, yellowish-pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Blue Chalksticks

    Blue chalkstick plant in Mexico

    Andrea Macias / Unsplash 

    Blue Chalk Stick (Senecio serpens) grows six inches to one foot tall and two to three feet wide. One-inch leaves are blue-gray and upright resembling sticks of chalk. Native to South Africa, it will create an attractive groundcover in frost-free areas that may experience temperatures at 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Flowers are white to chartreuse in summer. In addition to its texture, color, and ability to spread, Blue Chalk Stick also serves as erosion control.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10-11
    • Color Varieties: Blue-grey
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Filtered Shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 06 of 07

    Parry’s Agave

    Parry's Agave


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    Parry’s Agave (Agave parryi) is a smaller species of agave that gaining popularity as a groundcover. It will grow one foot to three feet tall and wide. The rosette pattern is both beautiful and useful to retain water. Native to American Southwest and Mexico, this agave adds interest alongside boulders. Place in a landscape of white rock for color contrast. Low-desert climates suit this plant where the full sun and intense heat would cause some other succulents like Creeping Sedum to struggle. Still, some varieties of Parry's Agave are hardy to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7b to 10a
    • Color Varieties: Blue-grey
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Filtered Shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained sandy or rocky
  • 07 of 07

    Royal Dewflower

    Royal Dewflower (Drosanthemum speciosum) blooms in the desert in summer.

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    Royal Dewflower (Drosanthemum speciosum) carpets the ground with vibrant blooms in varieties of pink, purple, and red. Leaves are narrow, cool grey-green. Flowers are so prolific that they nearly cover the foliage in summer. Roots spread up to three feet wide and the plant grows six inches to one foot tall. Plant in an area with no foot traffic. Native to South Africa, it is hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and thrives in full sun or part shade in the desert.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Pink, Purple, Red
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained