Groundcover succulents come in many fantastic shapes and colours. They can very hardy, easy to grow and fast spreading. The best thing about groundcovers is that they can help hide unsightly bits of the garden, retaining walls or make a colourful filler in between other plants.
There are many creative ways succulent groundcovers can be used. Some groundcover succulents are more hardy than others. Plants such as Sedum Little Missy or Acre are absolutely gorgeous but can burn to a crisp if exposed to full sun during a summer heatwave. This is mainly due to the dainty leaves and thin stalks that are vulnerable when very hot. The good news is, the thin leaves Sedum are usually frost tolerant and so are suitable for cooler climates where summer sun does not get too hot.
On the other side of the spectrum, groundcovers like Sedum Clavatum are beautiful and hardy succulent groundcover that will be absolutely fine with heatwaves because it has thick, water filled leaves and stems, but will freeze when the temperature drops below the freezing point.
So which are the best and most hardy groundcover succulents that can deal with heat and frost? At the top of the list sits Aptenia Cordifolia that seems to survive anything. Others include a variety of Sedum, Sempervivum and Delosperma. Here are our favourites.
The best groundcover succulents
Sedum Blue Feather, Dragon's Blood, Gold Mound, Green Mound Pallidum
Sedum Rubrotinctum & Pachyphyllum
Ice Plant/ Delosperma
Aptenia Cordifolia & Coridfolia Variegata
Aptenia Cordifolia is one of the toughest succulent groundcovers we have come across. It will grow in full sun, part shade and full shade and it spreads fast. It can suffer when its exposed to all day full sun when temperatures rise above 40 degrees C (104F) but it is unlikely to die and will keep going.
It is also said to be tolerant to mild frosts.
Aptenia Cordifolia can be used as groundcover and also a hanging plant over walls. The thick stems will support the plant falling down quite a distance.
In some parts of the world, this plant is considered a weed, so check your local council/ government authority website before you plant.
Echeveria Prolifica is a cute and fast spreading groundcover rosette succulent. The main appeal of this plant are its dainty blue-pink rosettes.
Prolifica can be planted as a filler or to hang over walls. It will not disappoint and will look absolutely spectacular once it had a chance to spread.
Full sun or part shade are best for this succulent as the pink colour will come out more in the sun. Echeveria Prolifica will grow in shaded parts of the garden but it is unlikely to colour up and will stay blue-green.
If you want a stunning and extremely hardy groundcover succulent for your garden, Graptopetalum Paraguayense is the plant. Fast growing, extremely easy to look after and beautiful, this plant has it all.
Graptopetalum Paraguayense can colours can range from pale to hot pink or light purple. The rosettes can grow to approximately 10cm in diameter and offset freely, creating a pink carpet.
While not frost hardy, Paraguayense is tolerant of most other extremes. It is drought hardy, will survive heatwaves as well as long periods of rain.
Graptoveria Starburst is a lovely hybrid that is both hardy and fast spreading. The star shaped rosettes go through stages of colour change and can be blue-green, pink, purple and orange. Truly amazing.
In the garden, this plant will spread fast and is a good filler. It will also hang over walls and can grow quite long.
This plant is only suitable for frost free gardens, but will cope with droughts and heatwaves well.
Kalanchoe Fedtschenkoi and its variegated version are great groundcovers, thought they are slightly different from all the other succulents in this article.
Unlike other groundcovers mentioned here, Kalanchoe Fedtschenkoi grows quite tall (to about 30cms). This makes it the perfect groundcover for areas with taller plants as, thanks to its height, it can still stand out.
The colour is blue with pink edges and interestingly shaped edges.
I'd recommend the variegated version. The leaves sport spectacular pink, blue and cream colours.
Sedum Blue Feather, Dragon’s Blood, Gold Mound, Green Mound, Pallidum,
Our nursery grows all of these Sedums and they are incredibly hardy and will live through dry, hot and also bitterly cold weather. They will tolerate poor soils and neglect.
Sedums can be planted in full sun/part shade.
These Sedums are best suited as a groundcovers rather than hanging plants over walls. The thinner stalks can burn in summer and the plant constantly creates new roots with every branch touching the soil.
Sedum Rubrotinctum & Pachyphyllum
Sedum Rubrotinctum also known as the red jelly beans or pork and beans is an incredibly hardy succulent that can be found growing in many gardens.
The green, cylindrical leaves turn red in cooler weather and when the plant is stressed.
Rubrotinctums' cousin, Sedum Pachyphyllum is a hybrid nicknamed the blue jelly beans. It looks incredibly similar to the Rubrotinctum in every way, apart from colour. Pachyphyllum is blue with pink-red tips.
Both varieties are fast spreading and hardy groundcovers. The towering leaves look particularly fantastic as they spread.
Sedum Rubrotinctum and Pachyphyllum are not frost tolerant.
Ice Plants/ Delosperma
Delosperma come in various sizes and can range from taller spreading plants to about 40 cms high or low to the ground with tiny leaves. They are prized for their hardiness and gorgeous flowers that cover the plant in the growing season. The flowers come in an array of colours.
Many Delsoperma are suited for full sun or part shade positions of the garden. They are very hardy and tolerate high summer temperatures as well as mild frost, though it is recommended a frost cloth is placed over plants when snow settles on the ground.
These succulents can cover quite a large area and look fabulous on the ground or hanging over walls.
While Semperivum do not spread at the rate of the above mentioned plants they are a fantastic and attractive groundcover plants and will find ways to grow down walls by finding cracks and sending roots into them.
The biggest attraction of Sempervivum is the look. The leaf arrangement of each plant looks like a flower that shoots out offsets or ‘babies’ that will in time produce their own, thus creating a gorgeous carpet of rosettes.
They also come in different colours that will change throughout the seasons.
Sempervivum are frost hardy and also tolerant of harsh sun when planted in the ground. The best position for these plants is full sun/ part shade.
Nicknamed the Peanut Cactus, this succulent is a great groundcover that looks like little snakes or peanuts. The thorns on the cactus are fairly soft, so it’s not too much of a pain to handle or have around kids/ pets.
This cactus is very hardy and frost tolerant. It will grow almost anywhere from full sun to full shade. In full shade the individual branches are longer and thinner while in full sun, they grow compact and short.
The plant produces amazing red flower in spring.
The Peanut Cactus is great as a groundcover, but also as an unusual hanging plant draping over walls.
How To Plant and Care For Ground Cover Succulents
If you’re planting a small plant or a cutting it’s best to do it in spring when all dangers of frost has passed. Simply make a hole in the ground big enough so the root ball is completely covered with soil and water when the soil is dry to the touch. Succulents do not like sitting in stagnant water so never plant in parts of the garden that gets flooded. If it rains a lot and the water can drain away, your succulents will be just fine.
The reason to plant young succulents in spring is that they get established for summer and then winter. They will send their roots as deep as possible, which will help them survive direct sun in the height of summer and frost in the cold months.
If the summer is hot and dry, you can help your succulents along by watering regularly especially during heatwaves. They should survive without the water but will grow healthier when watered.
In winter keep dry if your area gets regular frost and snow. Although the above mentioned succulents should survive frost, frost cloths can be placed of them to help keep dry and avoid frost burns.
Other Hardy Groundcover Succulents for Temperate Climates
There’s many other groundcover succulents out there but the great majority are not frost hardy. If you live in a temperate climate with mild winters you can grow loads of fantastic plants.
We are lucky enough to live in the sunny Australia with hardly any frost, though we suffer horribly in summer when temperatures often hike well over 40 C (104 F) regularly.
Groundcover succulents in the ground (not in pots though) can survive the direct sun of such intensity and some of our favourites are:
Crassula Sarmentosa Variegata
Senecio Blue Chalkstics
Most of these succulents are drought tolerant and withstand strong summer sun, but are not frost tolerant.
When buying a groundcover or any succulent destined for the garden, it is best to check the label or ask the seller if it suitable for your climate.
To read another one of our article on best hanging/ trailing succulents, see here.
If you like Echeveria, you may be interested in our top picks for best groundcover Echeveria.