Top 10 Colorful Succulents You Should Grow

These easy-care colorful succulents will surprise you with their vibrant displays of sun-drenched yellows, reds, oranges and more.

While browsing through garden author and succulent expert Debra Lee Baldwin’s enticing Succulent Container Gardens book, you’ll likely fall just a little bit in love. These plump-leaved colorful succulents store water in their juicy tissues, making them a forgetful gardener’s dream.

That’s because stressors that might harm or even kill other plants—an extra touch of sun, heat or cold; even a drought resulting from the gardener’s vacation (these are the best drought tolerant succulents to grow)—make many succulents come alive with color. Normally green and blue-green leaves heat up into a vivid spectrum of reds, orange, pinks, purples and yellows.

Another bonus: succulents tend to be winter bloomers. So when you bring your frost-tender plants inside to protect them from the cold, you’ll get a flower fix just when you need it most.

Are you ready to become a sucker for colorful succulents, too?

Top 10 Colorful Succulent Plants: Sticks on FireSucculent Container Gardens

Sticks on Fire

Euphorbia tirucallii

With a thicket of loosely branching vertical stems, each about the diameter of a pencil, sticks on fire looks almost like something growing on an undersea reef. Also called red pencil plant, it has tips that turn yellow in summer and red in winter. Beware: When broken or damaged, the stems ooze sap that may irritate skin.

Why we love it: Height and shape make this the perfect thriller in any container, while the changing colors ensure a fabulous show.

Bring the beach to your garden with a rare dolphin succulent.

baby necklaceSucculent Container Gardens

Baby’s Necklace

Crassula rupestris subsp. marnieriana

The stacked geometric leaves of baby’s necklace prefer some sun protection yet will still reward you with a rosy blush. In winter, pretty white flowers emerge from the ends of the leaf strands.

Why we love it: When planted front and center in a container, the strands of leaves turn upward like eels, making baby’s necklace a fun three-dimensional spiller.

We’re hopping with excitement over this adorable bunny succulent.

Top 10 Colorful Succulent Plants: Golden-toothed aloeSucculent Container Gardens

Golden-Toothed Aloe

Aloe nobilis

Dark-green leaves with white or yellow prickles bake into hot colors under direct sunlight. But peek at the shaded surfaces underneath and you’ll find tender greenery. Grow a golden-toothed and you’ll be spoiled for plain aloe vera.

Why we love it:  Vibrant red-orange flowers shoot up on slender stems during summer, offering nectar your hummingbirds will find hard to resist.

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Top 10 Colorful Succulent Plants: Royanum hens-and-chicksSucculent Container Gardens

Royanum Hens-and-Chicks

Sempervivum tectorum ‘Royanum’

Why settle for plain old hens-and-chicks when you can have a gorgeous chocolate-tipped Royanum? A frost-tolerant, cold-climate succulent, it can be safely grown from Zones 4 to 9.

Why we love it: Coordinate your container to match the tips’ hue, and you’ll be amazed how the colors pop.

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Top 10 Colorful Succulent Plants: Paddle plantSucculent Container Gardens

Paddle Plant

Kalanchoe luciae

The flat, round leaves of this succulent—also known as desert cabbage and flipping flapjacks—can grow up to 6 inches in diameter. They begin to blaze red from their tips downward, growing more vibrant with additional sun or cold. From late winter through early spring, pale-yellow flowers open, a pleasing contrast to the fiery leaves.

Why we love it: The color and pattern of the leaves make this a simply stunning plant.

Succulent Christmas trees are the CUTEST new Christmas decoration.

Top 10 Colorful Succulent Plants: Morning Light echeveriaSucculent Container Gardens

Morning Light Echeveria

Echeveria ‘Morning Light’

Colorful succulents this stunning must be hard to grow, right? Nope! This cultivar is among the most user-friendly you’ll find. Preferring a soil slightly richer in organic matter than most succulents, it flourishes under ultrabright indirect light.

Why we love it: Gorgeous powdery leaves splay open like a water lily or lotus blossom—but this echeveria’s “flower” is always in bloom.

Psst—this clear succulent looks exactly like raindrops.

10.2in. By 6.8in.@300ppi, RgbSucculent Container Gardens

Fire and Ice

Echeveria subrigida ‘Fire and Ice’

Wavy apered leaves overlap to form rosettes roughly a foot in diameter. Coloring ranges from blue-green leaves with red-purple margins to sea-foam-green leaves edged with dark pink. It grows best in full sun, needing at least four to six hours of bright light each day.

Why we love it: When backlit, the slightly transparent quality of the leaves becomes apparent, and the red margins glow neon bright.

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Top 10 Colorful Succulent Plants: Sunset jadeSucculent Container Gardens

Sunset Jade

Crassula ovata ‘Hummel’s Sunset’

Especially during the cooler months, this cultivar’s leaves take on bright golden centers with ochre margins. From late fall to winter, look for white flowers tinged with lavender.

Why we love it: In shade, it masquerades as its plainer green cousin, the common jade plant. What’s more fun than a plant with a secret identity?

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Top 10 Colorful Succulents: Coppertone stonecropSucculent Container Gardens

Coppertone Stonecrop

Sedum nussbaumerianum

The trailing cylindrical leaves of this beauty turn a magnificent gold in the summer sun. Pure-white flowers bloom early, from January through April.

Why we love it: Between the winter blooms and the summer leaves, these colorful succulents brighten gardens and windowsills year-round.

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Top 10 Colorful Succulents: Red Salad BowlSucculent Container Gardens

Red Salad Bowl

Aeonium urbicum rubrum

Aeoniums prefer a little more shade and humidity than the typical succulent, but they’re still some of the easiest blooms to grow. The large, well-defined rosettes of this red-and-green aeonium will add class to your containers.

Why we love it: It has the bicolor charm of the popular Green Envy coneflower, but it’s colorful all year long.

Next, check out the top 10 stonecrop sedum varieties to grow.

Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing birding and gardening content. As content director of Birds & Blooms, she leads the team of editors and freelance writers sharing tried-and-true advice for nature enthusiasts who love to garden and feed birds in their backyards. Since joining Birds & Blooms 17 years ago, Kirsten has held roles in digital and print, editing direct-to-consumer books, running as many as five magazines at a time, and managing special interest publications. Kirsten has traveled to see amazing North American birds and attended various festivals, including the Sedona Hummingbird Festival, the Rio Grande Bird Festival, The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival, and the Cape May Spring Festival. She has also witnessed the epic sandhill crane migration while on a photography workshop trip to Colorado. Kirsten has participated in several GardenComm and Outdoor Writers Association of America annual conferences and is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. When she's not researching, writing, and editing all things birding and gardening, Kirsten is enjoying the outdoors with her nature-loving family. She and her husband are slowly chipping away at making their small acreage the backyard of their dreams.