Nothing beats a blast of vibrant color in the garden, especially when all you see around you is green foliage (or other houses, walls, etc.). Some plants just have that extra beauty that is part of their unique nature or it comes with changes in the seasons and temperatures. If you live in the desert, a dry setting or have a bright spot inside your house, our roundup of fabulous flora might be all you need to heat things up in the landscape!
CAMPFIRE PLANT (Crassula capitella ‘Campfire)—Like many Crassulas, this variety responds to its environment, starting out green and turning a vivid orange-red shade when placed in the sun. Bright light also encourages the development of white flowers in summer. It can grow up to 3 feet wide due to its sprawling habit.
FIRESTICKS (Euphorbia tirucalli)—A stunner in the landscape, this succulent shrub is a fast grower and is easy to propagate from cuttings. It loves the sun and can handle some of the hottest locations. In summer it stays a beautiful shade of green; in the cooler months, the top portion of the plant turns a fire-red. A note of warning: Be careful when trimming or moving the plant, as broken stems produce a white sap that is toxic to both humans and pets.
PADDLE PLANT (Kalanchoe luciae)—Who can resist this fabulous succulent, with its large fleshy paddle-shaped leaves that transform from a soft green to a rich red when given enough sunlight. A great choice for growing in pots, paddle plants can be easily propagated from their offshoots.
RED PAGODA (Crassula capitella ‘Red Pagoda’)—Recognizable by its propeller-like leaves, red pagoda offers an array of color changes, blushing from a soft green to a vivid orange-red shade when placed in the sun. Like campfire plant, it develops white flowers in summer. When kept indoors, its leaves will remain a bright lime green.
FIRE BARREL CACTUS (Ferocactus gracilis)—Otherworldly looking with its rigid curved red spines sprouting from its deep-green globular base, this beauty needs direct sun to keep its dramatic color. It produces reddish flowers in spring through early summer that attract pollinating bees.
CALIFORNIA SUNSET (Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’)—The waxy rosette shape of this thick-leafed sprawling succulent looks like a work of art. Factor in its crimson hue and you have a winner in the garden. Easy to grow in pots, it produces white flowers in spring. Over time, clusters of long-stemmed rosettes will form. Be careful not to overwater.
CRAWLING OCTOPUS (Aloe vanbalenii)—Its name comes from its fleshy toothed leaves which spread across the ground like an octopus. The more sun it gets the darker red it will turn. Ideal for xeriscape settings and rock gardens, it emits a musty, cinnamon-like smell when its leaves break off.
JELLY BEAN SEDUM (Sedum rubrotinctum ‘Aurora’)—This low-growing succulent features pink jellybean-like leaves that transform from a pale green to pink to cream depending on how much light it receives (the more sunlight the pinker it gets). Tolerant of full sun, it does great in containers. Just be careful with its leaves, as they are fragile and can easily fall off if handled too roughly.
SUNSET ALOE (Aloe dorotheae)—This eye-catching succulent alters its colors from bright green to a glossy sunburn-red in bright sun. Its fleshy leaves are flecked with white and its edges have short sharp teeth. In winter, tubular reddish flowers sprout on long stems from the plant’s base. Sunset aloe readily produces offsets, forming large clumps of rosettes.