What are succulents?
Succulents are plants that conserve water in both leaves and in stems. There are numerous types of succulent species with various shapes and colors, and with some interesting characteristics which vary from frill to spines and blooms. They are unique in their own way. Succulents can be defined as a set of plants that thrive in drought conditions for longer periods and perform well in bright sunlight. As with many species in the plant kingdom, some succulents are rare and some are not. But rare succulents can be difficult to care for as they may not make seeds and may resist propagation.
14 Rare and Weird Succulents
String of Dolphins
The String Of Dolphins succulent is native to South Africa. Its leaves are chubby and fleshy, and they look like dolphins. This succulent has an exceptional appearance and contains a leaf window that is translucent. Their blooms are usually composite, which means they are formed from many mini flowers. The flower petals cluster in a sphere and make a pompom of a bloom. They have a fantastic cinnamon scent.
Living Stones (Lithops dorotheae)
The Living Stone is native to Africa. This succulent is comprised of two fleshy, chubby leaves with a tiny stem part above the soil. You can find most of the stem and the long roots under the soil. During spring, older leaves wither and ultimately fall off. When Living Stone blooms in fall and winter, the flowers form between the leaves. When they grow to full size, they will be about 0.5-2 inches in height and width.
Lipstick Echeveria is native to Mexico. It does not usually have stems and its leaves are in rosette forms. This succulent grows to 4 inches in height and 5-6 inches in width with leaves that are bright apple lime green in color and triangular in shape. The margin of the leaves carries red, bronze, or even dark brown tips. Lipstick Echeveria produces 20-inch tall red flowers and carries a single-sided inflorescence. The flowers also carry tips with darker colors.
This is a native plant in southeast Asia. There are several varieties of Hoya Hearts plants, usually with thick, heart-shaped leaves. When Hoya Hearts grow to their mature size, they may be as tall as 13 feet with heart-shaped leaves about 2.3 inches wide. Generally, they contain leaves that you can spot by their bright green color. Many people use this plant as a gift, particularly on Valentine’s Day. It is quite common to spot a Hoya Heart as one individual leaf growing in a single pot.
Zig-Zag Cactus is native to Mexico. Their stems are flat and tend to form in a zigzag manner. When they grow to their full potential, they are about 2-3 inches in diameter. Due to this small size, many people tend to grow this as an indoor plant. The Zig-Zag Cactus has a green stem, but no leaves (many people mistake their stems for leaves). Zig-Zag Cactus forms only a couple of new leaves at the beginning of its growth and is short-lived.
Rose succulents are native to the Canary Islands. They generally tend to produce petals that are round and lay in an equal pattern of their long-lasting blooms. Rose succulents generally grow in clusters and when they’re full-grown, are only about 6 inches. They look similar to regular roses, and the only difference is the color as the rose succulents are green.
Haworthia Cooperi is native to South Africa. They are relatively slow-growing succulents and tend to produce rosettes in clumps. Haworthia Cooperi contains small, fleshy leaves that are light green. The transparent look of the leaves gives these plants an interesting appearance. Their stems also contain transparent tips! During summer and spring they make white flowers that form on a peduncle which can grow up to 12 inches.
Coral cactus is native to Thailand. It looks very much like a coral reef with a green stem and leaves that are crinkled with green, white, or yellow tips. Many people tend to grow it for its unique shape. Their blossoms are small flowers in pink or purple, but they are difficult to spot. If you do, it will be only on older plants.
Donkey’s Tail Succulent
Donkey’s Tail succulent is a Mexican native. It is very small in size with fleshy, thick, overlapping leaves. The colors of the leaves on Donkey’s Tail can be either gray or green. Be careful when you are handling this plant as it easily drops its leaves. Donkey’s Tail blossoms are very small and generally form on the stem edges. They usually do not bloom when you grow them indoors.
The Lifesaver Plant is a native plant of Southern Africa. This is a tiny perennial succulent that usually tends to form as a creeper type. The Lifesaver Plant is a very attractive succulent with beautiful 5-point star-shaped flowers and Zebra stripes. Its thick center looks similar to a root beer-flavored lifesaver. They contain 4 sided stems with soft teeth along the stem margins. When they get full sunlight, the plant grows red tips.
Conophytum Burger is a native plant in South Africa. It’s also known by the common name of Burger’s Onion as it usually grows in an onion shape. Conophytum Burger is pale green in color and grows to approximately 1 inch in diameter. When it starts blooming, the flowers are purple. Flowers usually emerge from the succulent’s center during early fall.
Dinteranthus Microspermus, or Stone Plant, is a native of Namibia and South Africa. At full size, they are only about one inch in height. The highlight of these plants is the stray green stem which grows freely with a split in the center. They usually bloom with yellow flowers.
Gymnocalycium triacanthum is native to Argentina. There are several subspecies of Gymnocalycium triacanthum:
- ‘riojense’ subspecies has 5 radial spines and white, pink or brown blooms.
- ‘kozelskyanum’ subspecies has 3 radial spines. When they bloom flowers will be pink.
- ‘Paucispinum’ subspecies has 3 radial spines and they bloom with white flowers.
- ‘playtygonum’ subspecies contains pearl white fragrant blooms and 3 spines.
- ‘piltziorum’ subspecies has 3-5 radial spines which erect first and later radiate. Their blooms are pink.
Euphorbia Obesa is native to central Africa. At full size, they are 7.8 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide. They have a single stem without branches in an angled and grooved appearance. Once Euphorbia Obesa matures, they will tend to get a cylindrical shape and produce circular-shaped blooms.
General succulent care guide
- Ensure that you provide succulents with the right amount of sunlight. Many succulents wish to have full sunlight for 6 hours and for the rest of the day they are happy with partial shade.
- Rotating the succulents often is another way to care for your plants. That will allow the entire plant to get sunlight and it will avoid etiolation.
- Adjust watering based on the seasons. You should ideally increase watering in their active growing season and reduce it in their dormancy.
- Water the potting soil directly and thoroughly until it gets soaked through and drains from the drainage holes.
- Always try to keep your succulents clean. You can gently wipe any dust off the plant for their wellbeing.
- Select a container that has enough drainage holes so that excess water will not collect in the container.
- Provide succulents with the right potting soil. Use a cactus soil mix or add substances such as sand, pumice, or perlite to help the soil drain.
- Use an organic pesticide if your succulent is attacked by insects.
- Feed succulents lightly during their active growing season to stimulate growth.
Author bio: Dr. Chamika Siriwardhana is a water and environmental researcher and the editor of Succulent Thrive website. He is a passionate gardener and has years of experience in the field. His mission is to help fellow succulent lovers experience the joy of succulent gardening.