The 8 Best Succulents For Beginners

I was talking to a friend recently about my ever-growing succulent collection when she asked me what plant I’d recommend for a beginner. At first, I wasn’t sure which plant to recommend (after all, succulents are known for the ease with which they can be cared for) then I suggested a few different varieties. This started me thinking about, not only which plants are suitable for beginners, but also what actually makes a succulent good for somebody who’s new to plants or is green-thumbed which is why I decided to write this article.

If you’re new to the world of succulents or are thinking about buying one as a gift, read on to find the perfect plant for you!

What makes a succulent suitable for beginners?

While everybody has their own definition of what makes a succulent a good choice for beginners most people do agree that succulents, as a whole, are ideal for newbies. That said though there are a few things that make some succulents more suitable than others.

For example, any plant (let alone a succulent) that’s suitable for beginners should be easy to keep, and forgiving of mistakes. They should be low maintenance and not mind if they’re left for long periods of time without being watered (well if you’re new to plants you won’t be in the habit of watering at first).

Personally, I think that being easy to propagate also makes a plant more suitable for beginners. My thinking behind this is that if you want to grow more plants it’ll be easier (and therefore more rewarding) if your plant isn’t difficult to propagate.

Which succulents are best for beginners?

You might think that if you’re green-thumbed or always forget to water plants you shouldn’t own a succulent but that isn’t true at all. While they will still require a certain amount of attention, the succulents below are extremely forgiving. Something that makes them more than perfect for beginners.

Depending on where you intend to keep your plants and whether or not you have pets there may be other things that are important to you when considering what succulent to buy. The table below offers a quick reference guide to the best succulents for beginners.

Easy To KeepLight NeededHardiness ZonePet Safe
AloeYesPlenty of natural light8 – 11No
Burro’s TailYesBright or partial light10 – 11Yes
EcheveriaYesBright light9 – 11Yes
Hens & ChicksYesGood light but can survive in shade3 – 8Yes
JadeYesSunny spot10 – 12No
Snake PlantYesPrefer light but low light is okay9 – 11No
Tiger Jaw’sYesAt least a few hours of light9 – 11Yes
Zebra PlantYesIndirect light or partial shade9a – 11bYes

Aloe

Even if you don’t know any succulents at all you’ll undoubtedly have heard of aloe vera which is the most common of all aloe varieties.

Sometimes known as the wonder plant due to its myriad of health benefits, aloe is actually one of the most popular succulents for beginners. Providing it’s able to drain excess water properly the plant is not only easy to careful, but very difficult to kill.

Like most succulents, they don’t like being overwatered and will be far happier if you forget to give them any water than they would if you gave them too much. One thing that does put some people off of owning an aloe plant though (regardless of the variety) is the sharp ‘teeth’ along the edges of the leaves that can cut you if you’re not careful.

Being native to subtropical regions, aloes like a lot of light although they can burn if the sun is too hot or they’re placed in direct sunlight. A bright windowsill is an ideal location for them as long as the sun isn’t too strong.

Sadly all aloe plants are toxic to both cats and dogs so if you do have pets you may want to either consider a different succulent or make sure it’s out of your pet’s way.

All varieties of aloe are perfect for beginners

Burro’s Tail

Burro's tail (sedum) is perfect for beginners

A member of the sedum genus of succulents, the burro’s tail is also known by a range of other names such as donkey’s tail, horse’s tail, and even lamb’s tail. While those names may all seem pretty strange they do have the word ‘tail’ in common and when you see this unusual succulent you’ll understand the name. Unlike the aloe which grows upwards, the sedum has long hanging branches that, when combined with their bulbous leaves (which can sometimes have reddy-orange highlights), look like animal tails.

While succulents, like most plants, do suffer from pests the burro’s tail is actually highly resistant to this, making it a very easy plant to care for and maintain. They’re also extremely tolerant of whatever soil they’re planted in, something can’t be said for a lot of other succulents. 

Being hanging plants they have a wide surface area that can absorb light which is why they prefer indirect sunlight. This means they’re much happier sitting in a spot away from the window than they are getting the full mid-day sun.

If you have pets then the burro’s tail may be the perfect plant for you, not only is it non-toxic to them, but its bitter peppery taste will mean that your cat or dog will be less likely.


Echeveria

Probably the most recognizable of all succulents and the plant most people picture when they think of succulents (which is one of the reasons why I use it in my logo). This iconic succulent is also the most widely owned which is a testament to just how easy they are to keep.

Equally as happy in both hot and cold climates, the echeveria doesn’t need as much in the way of nutrients as some other succulents do. That said though, they do need more light but this is normally overcome by placing them on a windowsill or using a grow light. If you’re not sure about whether you have enough light or not for an echeveria, consider getting one with darker-colored leaves, they won’t need as light as those that have lighter-colored leaves. 

When echeverias don’t get enough light they tend to start to stretch out towards the light in an attempt to get as much as possible. While this can easily be fixed it does spoil their beautiful rosette shape. If your plant has stretched check out this article on fixing a leggy succulent.

Just like the burro’s tail, the echeveria is perfectly safe for both cats and dogs so they can be left in the room without you having to worry about the consequences of your pets nibbling on the leaves.

Echeveria's are ideal succulents for beginners

Hens and Chicks

From the sempervivum family of succulents, hens and chicks are often mistaken for echeverias because of their appearance, although they are from a completely different family. That said though they do share a number of similarities such as being non-toxic to pets (and humans), and happy to live in most climates. 

Sometimes called a no-fuss plant due to the fact that they seem to almost thrive on neglect. Okay so maybe that’s a bit extreme but they are extremely forgiving if you forget about them for a long period of time. This is one of the reasons why they’re so good for beginners, even their family name sempervivum, which is Latin for ever living demonstrates this. 

If you’re wondering why this variety of sempervivum is known as hens and chicks it’s due to the plant’s ability to propagate itself. The main part of the plant is known as the hen while the offsets it regularly produces are affectionately known as chicks.

Hens & Chicks (sempervivum) are perfect for beginners

Jade

Jade's a re perfect succulents for beginners

While the echeveria may be one of the most common of all succulents, the jade (which is a member of the crassula family) is the most common succulent amongst beginners. In part due to the fact that it’s thought to bring luck and fortune to their owner so is often given as a gift.

If you like your plants tall then the jade is perfect for you, especially if you intend to leave it outside. While they’ll only grow to around 12 inches when kept inside, when grown outside they can reach up to 10 feet! Okay so this may be a bit extreme but it does give you an idea of how tall they can grow.

Like pretty much every other succulent, jades like well-draining soil and a nice sunny spot but sadly they are toxic to cats and dogs.


Snake Plant

Snake plant (mother-in-law's tongue) is perfect for beginners

During the 1960s and 70s, the snake plant (which is also known as mother-in-law’s tongue) was a hugely popular plant but as we rolled into the 80s it started to fall out of favor. That was until around a decade or so ago when their popularity started to grow again. Helped in part, I’m sure, by NASA including it in their list of air-purifying plants but also because they’re super easy to care for.

Along with most sempervivum varieties, the snake plant is one of the most tolerant of all succulents and has a reputation for being almost indestructible. This ‘neglect’ extends to the fact that it can go for many weeks without water and won’t show any signs of stress if it does. 

If you don’t get a lot of sunlight or are looking for a ’bathroom’ plant then you can’t go wrong with the snake plant. It doesn’t need anywhere near as much light as most other succulents.

They are toxic to pets but only mildly so while your cat or dog may feel a little unwell after snacking on the leaves it won’t last long and won’t do them any long-term harm.


Tiger Jaw’s

If you like unusual and interesting plants then you can’t go far wrong with tiger jaw’s. This beautiful little succulent has teeth-like points along the edge of the leaves that give it a jaw-like appearance. On top of this, when most plants are dormant in the fall and winter months, they often produce bright yellow flowers.

While they do need more light than a snake plant they can survive happily with just three or four hours of light a day. They’re also perfectly safe for animals so can live happily with your furry friends.

The unusual tiger jaw's is perfect for beginners

Zebra plant

A member of the haworthia family, the zebra plant is, without doubt, one of the most popular of all varieties and gets its name from the white zebra-like stripes running the width of the leaves.

One of the appeals of the zebra plant is that it’s quite a small plant that’s happy to live in close proximity to other succulents, something that makes it an ideal choice for terrariums. It can also tolerate low light levels which makes them popular with students and those with smaller windows.

The zebra plant is very low maintenance and can be left for a long period of time without suffering at all. They’re also highly resistant to pests so are great if you don’t like to spend too much time looking after your plants.

If you’re looking for a pet-safe succulent then the zebra plant could be exactly what you’re looking for. Not only are they completely non-toxic but the zebra stripes seem to scare pets away. Well at least my cats don’t like to go anywhere near them, and I keep them on a shelf so they’re out of the dog’s way.

The zebra haworthia is perfect for new succulent owners

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did I’d be grateful if you could share it please as it would really help me.

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