Is your knowledge of succulent plants based on that dusty jade plant in the office corner? The popularity of succulent plants has exploded in recent years, due not only to the low-care requirements of these sun lovers but also because of the diversity of these fascinating plants. Special anatomical adaptations and colors make some succulents look like they belong more on another planet than on your windowsill. Here are 11 unusual succulents that will add personality and distinction to your garden or houseplant collection.
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Mexican Hens and Chicks 'Topsy Turvy'
The Echeveria genus of succulents, also known as Mexican hens and chicks, encompasses hundreds of rosette-forming plants native to Mexico, Central America, and South America. The squared-off leaf tips of Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy' give it a sea urchin appearance and look handsome when planted in groups or combined with other succulents in a dish garden. Plant 'Topsy Turvy' in a chartreuse pot to show off its pale bluish-green leaves.
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Sometimes called plover eggs plant, Adromischus cooperi sports pudgy little leaves dotted with purplish-grey speckles. The plants are especially sensitive to frost and must not be exposed to temperatures lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The speckles on plover egg plants will become more pronounced in bright sunlight. Plants are easy to propagate by leaf cuttings. Twist off a leaf from the stem and insert it into a moist cactus mix. Roots will form in four to six weeks.
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Crinkle Leaf Plant
A South African relative of the kalanchoe, crinkle leaf plants (Adromischus cristatus) feature triangular leaves with lightly ruffled tips. Crinkle leaf plants tolerate a light frost, but grow best in a cool sunny spot with infrequent waterings. Red and white flowers may peek out between the 2-inch leaves on mature plants.
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Pebbled Tiger Jaws
Faucaria felina is the kind of plant that both attracts and repels the temptation to touch the strangely serrated leaves. In addition to the fascinating leaf form of pebbled tiger jaws, the plants may produce golden yellow flowers that nearly obscure the plant in fall and winter. Pebbled tiger jaw plants fill a niche for those who need a shade-tolerant succulent, but they also require more irrigation than most succulents. If the plants become too dry and the leaves separate from the stems, you can use them to start new plants if you act quickly.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Euphorbia obesa is just the plump character to beef up your indoor container garden. Its spherical shape adds heft and textural interest to plantings, but don't bear the spines one would expect on a round succulent. Weekly watering is pleasing to the baseball plant and will help it to live a long life in your home. Petite flowers may appear on the top of the globe, giving you a signal that the plant is thriving.
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The classic aloe plant has gotten an update: Aloe hawthoroides has dozens of feathery bristles on each leaf, which are all bark but no bite. This touchable plant has a moderate growth habit and is tolerant of a wide variety of growing conditions, as long as you don't let it freeze or sit in stagnant water.
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Who can resist a plant called "pies from heaven"? This kalanchoe is but one of the many strange and beautiful living things that hail from Madagascar. The leaves are fuzzy, grey, and covered with brown streaking. Insignificant yellow flowers may appear on stalks in the spring. Give your kalanchoe abundant light for healthy plants.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Echeveria gibbiflora 'Barbillion'
If you've ever observed the fleshy wattle of a turkey or rooster, you have seen something these fowl have in common with echeveria 'Barbillion': they are both carunculated. This term refers to a bumpy, fleshy growth. Is it beautiful or hideous? Give it plenty of light and water sparingly, and see if the unusual appeal of this succulent grows on you.
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Echeveria 'Blue Curls'
A single specimen of echeveria, 'Blue Curls' makes an exquisite statement in a terrarium with its frilly leaves and pink and aqua coloration. Prevent water from accumulating within the rosette and remove dead leaves from the plant's base to keep pests from interfering with its vigor.
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In spite of its petite mature size of 3 inches, the remarkable Aloinopsis luckhoffii commands attention with its profusion of fleshy geometric leaves topped with bumpy white dots. This unusual form, along with hues of green, gray, and brown, help the plants blend in with rocks, a survival adaptation to prevent being eaten. Don't kill this plant with kindness; the best growing conditions are those that mimic its native habitat of South Africa: full sun (using grow lights if necessary), sharply draining soil, and very spare irrigation. Plants are tender, so bring them indoors if you expect a frost.