Are you thinking of owning a succulent plant in a bid to get with the trend? Or you’re considering gifting one to a friend on the basis of research findings that proximity to an indoor plant improves and fosters creativity? Are you unsure of which to get? Or of how much space it would occupy when it’s fully grown? This article is for you.
Succulent plants or succulents as they are more popularly called are plants that store water in their roots, stems or leaves thereby causing those parts to appear fleshy, thick or engorged.
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This appearance which distinguishes a succulent plant from most plants is the characteristic known as succulence. Succulents retain water as an adaptive mechanism to cope with the minimal water supply that’s typically available in high-temperature environments which are their natural habitats.
In addition to their water retention capacity, plant science teaches us that succulents may also possess additional adaptive water-saving features such as – absent or reduced leaves to prevent water loss, stems which function as the organ for photosynthesis, roots growing close to the soil surface and a hairy or spiny outer surface among others. These features mean that succulents can survive in environments that will be uninhabitable to most other plants.
Before venturing into helping you decide which the appropriate succulent size for you, a relevant question will be what exactly are the benefits of owning a succulent plant? Well for one, you become a part of a growing trend and a member of the elite group of persons who own succulents.
Secondly, their sturdy nature means they are easy to care for and can survive periods of neglect or minimal attention. Thirdly, succulents release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide for longer periods than most plants and therefore guarantee cleaner and fresher air. Again, the presence of succulents can help increase pain tolerance and enhance memory, according to research from the Universities of Michigan and Kansas, respectively.
Additionally, certain succulents have been found to have medicinal properties and have been used to treat medical problems such as cuts, burns, aches and more. Finally, certain succulents have been found to be edible and are beginning to become popular in the culinary world.
Now that that’s out of the way, the remaining question is the question of choice of succulent on the basis of how huge it can grow. Below is a list detailing 10 examples of succulents and how big they can get.
How Big Do Succulent Grow?
Succulents can be as small as 6 inches when fully grown or as much as 12 feet tall and 12 feet wide. As you can see, the sizes vary a great deal, so read on for some popular varieties and their sizes.
Zebra Plant (Harworthia fasciata)
Size: up to 6 inches
The Zebra Plant makes for a great indoor plant. Growing no more than 6 inches, the Zebra Plant gets its name from the white zebra-stripes which run across its spiked dark green leaves.
Despite the spiked exterior of the leaves of the Zebra Plant, the inside of the leaves is smooth. This feature distinguishes Harworthia fasciata from Harworthia attenuate in addition to the fact that the former has larger leaves.
Like other succulents, the Zebra Plant has no need for tender loving and care. The Zebra Plant thrives when it gets full sunlight for at least 4-6 hours and with enough space to allow for expansion of its leaves. It will do well in sandy well-drained soil.
On watering, the soil in which the Zebra Plant is planted to be absolutely soaked in soaked water and then allowed to completely dry before it is watered again. Hence, depending on temperature levels, that might mean only having to water the plant once every couple of days.
If the Zebra Plant is to be kept outdoors, it is advisable to keep it in a container that can be moved indoors especially during the months of winter. The Zebra Plant may produce small white or pink flowers as well as small offshoots which can be used in propagation.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Size: up to 12 feet
If you were hoping that the Snake Plant is so named because it attracts or dispels snakes, you would be disappointed. The Snake Plant gets its name from the way the length and pattern on its leaves are snake-like.
The Snake Plant is native to the Western part of the African continent and is said to be symbolic in certain religious practices among locals. It has a number of monikers including Saint George’s Sword, Mother-in-law’s Tongue, and Viper’s Bowstring Hem. All of these names are no doubt connected to the long and pointed foliage which it produces.
The Snake Plant being a perennial can live for more than two years and during the entirety of its lifetime, it remains evergreen. It is difficult to kill and like most succulents will thrive with minimal supervision. It can grow as tall as 12 feet high and thus would require a significant proportion of space.
The Snake Plant is a prime example of the ability of succulents to purify the air. Clean air studies carried out by NASA revealed that the Snake Plant has the capacity to filter toxins from the air.
Additionally, the Snake Plant releases most of its oxygen at night, unlike other plants. This makes it an ideal indoor ornamental plant. To add to its ornamental quality, the Snake Plant can sometimes bloom and produce lily-like flowers, though this rarely occurs. If it does bloom, you’re guaranteed to enjoy the pleasant fragrance its flowers give off.
Being the hardy plants that they are, Snake Plants will do well in varying lights supply, whether intense or minimal. Still, it’s best to expose it to indirect sunlight. Warm temperatures and well-drained soil are additional factors that will aid its growth.
With the ease that comes with caring for a Snake Plant, you’d be wise to protect it from pests.
Size: up to 12 inches
Echeveria is the genus name for a variety of succulent plants that have a distinct appearance of being rose-shaped. The over 150 known varieties of the Echeveria are originally native to semi-desert areas of Central America, Mexico, and South America.
Most varieties of the Echeveria are slow and low growing and would only develop longer stems in a bid to reach for more light where the lighting it’s been provided is inadequate. As such their maximum height doesn’t usually go above 12 inches.
The Echeveria consists typically of a “mother” rosette which produces multiple “baby” rosettes which Nestle against it. The Echeveria is sometimes mistaken for the sempervivum as they are both rosette-shaped. Distinguishing factors between both are their texture, plumpness and blossoming style.
The Echeveria with its myriad hues is certainly one of the most visually appealing succulents. Its evergreen leaves could have colors ranging from white to pink and even orange making them quite suitable for ornamental purposes.
In caring for the Echeveria, it should be noted that though this succulent is quite hardy, it is averse to frost and as such will be better off indoors in cold months. Like other succulents, it requires well-draining soil and deep watering every few days.
Overwatering of the Echeveria will certainly cause the plant to die so a watering balance must be struck by allowing the soil fully dry up before the plant is watered again. In addition, the Echeveria being a polycarpic plant, will flower many times in their lifespan and so you must watch out for wilted flowers and leaves.
Such wilted parts must be removed from the plant to stimulate more growth and to prevent them from being used as a site for the growth of fungi that may harm the plant.
With respect to lighting, the Echeveria will do well with intense degrees of light but should never be allowed to be in contact for long periods with direct scorching sunlight.
Size: up to 24 inches
The Aloe vera is one of the most popular succulents known to man. Originally native to the Arabian Peninsula, the Aloe vera plant can now commonly be found almost everywhere across the globe.
The popularity of the Aloe vera plant is certainly not unconnected to the many accepted uses to which it can be, particularly on the medicinal and cosmetic fronts. The Aloe vera plant has been found to be relevant in the treatment of burns, acne, psoriasis and more. It has also been used as a makeup remover, aftershave, and other skincare routines.
Physically, the aloe vera plant is stemless or small stemmed and produces green fleshy leaves that are engorged. Its leaves typically possess serrated edges with white or yellow spots traversing the leaves.
The Aloe vera plant can grow as much as 24 inches in height and width. The Aloe vera plant can produce inflorescence, yielding red or yellow flowers, especially if cultivated outdoors. All of these make the Aloe vera a suitable succulent for ornamental purposes.
The Aloe vera plant is propagated ideally from offsets that grow at the base of the parent plant. These offsets are more easily produced by potted parent plants. To propagate, offsets after being allowed to grow to the height of 2 inches can be pulled out and their roots extricated from the mother plant. The uprooted offset is in turn left to air for a few days before being planted in its own pot.
In caring for the Aloe vera plant, it should be noted that the plant will do better in soil or potting mix that drains properly. In addition, terracotta pots are preferred for cultivating the Aloe vera plant due to their porous nature.
Watering of the plant should be done infrequently, say once every two to four weeks as the Aloe vera like most succulents is intolerant of overwatering. The watering periods should also be reduced to the barest minimum in cold months. A telltale sign of overwatering will be the roots and leaves rotting.
Room temperature is absolutely fine for growing the aloe vera plant. As such, the plant must be kept away from extreme cold. Particularly, it should be kept indoors in the winter months. With respect to lighting, the Aloe vera plant requires a lot of light as well as shade from direct scorching sunlight. Preferably, it should be placed on South or West facing windows where it can get loads of indirect sunlight.
In winter months where natural sunlight hours are reduced, artificial lights can be employed to supplement the light supply. The Aloe vera plant being quite hardy is tolerant of varying humidity levels.
With proper care and attention, the Aloe vera plant will continue to grow for a very long time as it is a perennial plant.
Size: up to 24 inches
The Graptopetalum is the genus name for roughly nineteen species of perennial succulents. Originally native to Mexico and the southwestern USA, Gtaptopetalums are often mistaken for Echeveria or Sempervivum. This is due to their similarity in appearance as they all grow in the form of rosettes having flat pointed leaves.
Sample species of the Graptopetalum include Graptopetalum pentalum, Graptopetalum paraguayanse, Graptopetalum filiferum among others. They produce leaves that come in a variety of colors such as dark mauve, white, cream, blue and much more. As such, they make for very good ornamental plants. With respect to size, the Graptopetalum can grow up to 24 inches tall and 36 inches wide.
Graptopetalums can be propagated by their seeds, leave cuttings or from a pup rosette just like the Echeveria. The care for the Graptopetalum is the same as most succulents. A well-drained soil, infrequent irrigation, full light, and warm temperatures will aid its growth.
Burro’s Tail (Sedum Morganianum)
Size: up to 24 inches
Sedum Morganianum is another succulent that you might contemplate owning. This succulent gets its name from the Spanish word for “donkey” that is “burro”. It is so named because of the hanging leaves it produces and which are reminiscent of a donkey’s tail. This plant is native to parts of Southern Mexico and Honduras.
Burro’s Tail, despite having the same hardiness which is attributable to most succulents, is a tad bit delicate. If handled improperly, the plant is wont to shed some of its teardrop-shaped leaves. As a result of this fragility, the Burro’s Tail isn’t quite recommended for a beginner succulent hobbyist.
Growing as much as 24 inches in length, the Burro’s Tail can be propagated through its seed or from leave/stem cuttings. The Burro’s Tail is best propagated in hanging baskets which will allow ample space for the long stems which hold its fleshy and engorged leaves.
Like other succulents, deep infrequent watering, warm temperatures, full sunlight and partial shade from scorching sunlight will aid the growth of the Burro’s Tail. This is in addition to the all-important requirement of well-draining soil.
Foxtail Agave (Agave Attenuate)
Size: up to 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide
The Agave Attenuate is another member of the rosette-shaped group of succulents. Native to Mexico, the Foxtail Agave is chiefly made up of long fleshy flexible leaves which tend to be bluish-green in color.
The Foxtail Agave being drought resistant can grow up to 5 feet tall and spread as much as 8 feet wide. As a monocarpic plant, the Foxtail Agave produces inflorescence just once in its lifetime. Such inflorescence is hoisted on stalks that can grow as tall as 15 feet. As such, the Foxtail Agave requires a great deal of space and will be more suited to be being planted in a garden.
Foxtail Agave is propagated through suckers, seeds or offsets from the mother plant. This plant requires little or no watering when established, full sunlight to partial shade and warm climates to do well.
Blue Chalk Sticks (Senecio Serpens)
Size: up to 24 inches
Blue Chalk Sticks get their name from the blue-green powdery covering that is present in the plant’s leaves. Originally endemic to South Africa, Senevio serpens can be grown anywhere that can mimic the environmental conditions of its original habitat.
With the capacity to grow as tall as 24 inches and as wide as 24 inches, the Senecio serpens is more commonly appreciated as a ground-hugging dwarf shrub. This plant grows more actively during warmer months and will become dormant during the winter. They are known to be toxic to man and animals and so will be best suited to being cultivated outdoors.
The Blue Chalk Sticks can be propagated through leave/stem cuttings, seeds or uprooted individual clumps. Full direct sunlight, well-draining soil and scant irrigation in a warm climate will do this succulent the best.
Size: up to 8 inches tall 24 inches wide
The Portulaca Grandiflora is more commonly called the moss rose due to the miniature rose-like flowers it produces and its tendency to spread like a moss foliage mat. Thanks to the colorful flowers it produces, the Portulaca Grandiflora is popular as an ornamental succulent that will sit pretty in outdoor gardens, hanging baskets or indoor pots.
Growing as tall as 8 inches and as wide as 12 inches, the Portulaca Grandiflora is an annual plant that remains in bloom all season long. Having fleshy cylindrical leaves that store water, the Portulaca Grandiflora is resistant to drought-like conditions.
Ideally, the Portulaca Grandiflora is best propagated through individual seeds after the end of frost as it is intolerant of cold conditions. This succulent will do well in poor dry soil that drains properly, warm to hot temperatures and infrequent watering.
Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata)
Size: up to 6 feet
With the common names for the Jade Plant being Money Plant and Lucky Plant, it is not in doubt that they would make for a perfect housewarming present. Originally native to South Africa and Mozambique, the Jade Plant is grown across the world as a bonsai.
Growing as tall 3 feet when pruned and 6 feet when left unpruned, the Jade Plant is easy to care for succulent. Consisting of fleshy oval-shaped green leaves that retain water, the Jade Plant can withstand arid conditions. Despite such arid conditions, the Jade Plant may bloom and produce white or pink flowers.
The plant is propagated by leaves/stem cuttings and requires full sunlight, dry and well-draining soil, and occasional deep watering in room temperature to grow well.
From the succulents listed above, I’m sure you can find the plant best suited for your space.