While all succulent plants are pretty impressive, not only for their unusual looks and survival capabilities, rosette succulents are among the most admired for their form and beauty.
The leaves are the stars of the show in these plants, growing in a circular, cluster formation, some covered in hair, some in spines, spikes or thorns, and others are very smooth.
With so many variations and hybrids of many types, there is a rosette succulent for every taste and planting color and scheme imaginable.
Here’s everything you need to know about rosette succulents.
What are Rosette Succulents?
Rosette succulents consist of many leaves which grow in a shape resembling a rose.
While it’s not an official class of succulent, as it encompasses many different species of plants, there are many people that use the term rosette succulents, and it’s a good way to get started if you want to grow your own succulents.
The shape of the leaves can also make the shape take on the form of other flowers, water lilies being one of the most common after the rose form.
Most rosette succulents are tightly compacted, allowing sunlight to reach the most amount of leaves possible. Natural genera of plants which come under this form include Aloe, Echeveria, Haworthia (see also Haworthia Cooperi (Cooper’s Aloe): Types, How to Grow and Plant Care), and Sempervivum.
Rosette succulents are fairly easy to propagate, so countless hybrids have been created, calling for new genera classifications, such as Sedeveria, Pachyveria, and Graptosedum.
How Big do Rosette Succulents Get?
How large a single rosette succulent gets depends on its conditions as well as its specific cultivar, but the larger ones in the Echeveria genus (see also Echeveria Plant Guide) can reach up to 25cm.
What Kind of Flowers do Rosette Succulents Produce?
Most succulents produce striking flowers, and those that form rosettes are no exception. Rosette succulents grow flower spikes, some of which tower high above the plant, and others which only reach a few inches above the ground.
These flowers are usually clustered, appearing in shades of white, red, pink, yellow, and orange. Typically, these flowers cascade towards the ground in a wonderful display. Most come in star-shapes.
In terms of sempervivums and agaves (see also Agave Tequilana Care), once they flower, this is the swan song for the plant, and it dies soon after.
Sempervivums or hen and chicks readily produce offsets, which continues the cycle, while you will need to collect any seed from the agaves, or take some cuttings, as they don’t offset nearly as much.
How Do You Keep Rosette Succulents From Growing Upwards instead of Outwards?
The key to keeping rosette succulents from getting leggy is to give them plenty of light. Without enough sunlight, they will stretch out of proportion to try to find more, bending to any direction of a light source.
You also need to give them a pot which is wide enough to accommodate the diameter of the rosette. This can be a little tricky, but wide terracotta pots are perfect for this.
If you find that these wide pots are too large, you can always plant more than one rosette succulent in order to fill the space, and to prevent overwatering.
Things to Keep in Mind when Growing Rosette Succulents
You can treat rosette succulent plants similar to other succulent plants, where you should give them as much light as possible, protecting them from colder temperatures, root rot, and forgetting to water them is usually beneficial.
If you’re growing them indoors, turn the plant regularly so that all sides get the same amount of light, which stops any uneven growth.
You may be tempted to mist the leaves, but never give into this. Although it makes a great photo, leaving water sitting on the plant, or letting it pool in between the leaves, will cause it to rapidly rot and die.
While it’s recommended with non-succulent plants to dust the leaves with a damp cloth, you cannot do this with succulents. For one, the leaves are typically too compacted, and you don’t want to introduce more water than you have to.
Use a soft brush, cotton wool swab or an air blower dust cleaner to keep the leaves free from dust and maintain healthy plant growth.
You will notice that over time, the lowest leaves will start to die off first.
This is part of the natural lifespan of each leaf, and while they will shrivel at first, it’s best not to take them off the plant until they have started to dry, otherwise you risk wounding the plant, and creating an open wound is an invitation for disease to take hold.
Make sure not to leave any dead plant matter on the top of the soil, as this will attract pests.
Types of Rosette Succulents You Should Consider Growing At Least Once
There are many different rosette succulents that you can choose from. Here’s a mix of the most interesting ones you should try at least once.
While most Aeoniums are a deep red or a purple burgundy, ‘Cupcake’ is a lovely apple green. It forms multiple rosettes which are tightly compacted, layered like a cupcake.
It will get a maximum of 30 cm in diameter, and about 25cm tall, making for an impressive display.
A bright green, variegated Aeonium, this is also referred to as ‘Starburst’, and this particular variety offsets readily, and doesn’t require any training to create beautiful bicolored rosettes in shades of yellow and green.
One of the hardiest Aloe varieties around (see also Types Of Aloe), it has proven itself at temperatures as low as 5°F or -15°C.
This particular aloe grows in clusters of rosettes which stay compact and close to the ground, each rosette also has the ability to bloom red flowers, if given the right conditions.
One of the most striking rosette-forming aloe plants out there, this particular variety creates a rosette of leaves that twist in a hypnotic spiral, in a silvery blue.
While technically cacti (see also Top 32 Amazing Looking Cacti and Succulents That Hang or Trail), Agave are worth mentioning on this list, as when they are kept indoors, most form compact rosettes which are just as beautiful as normal succulents.
You will, however, need to wear strong gloves when repotting them, as the spines are sharp.
Agave potatorum ‘Kissho Kan’
When fully grown, this agave will reach a compact 40cm, though this will take some time as it is fairly slow-growing.
This is an instant eye-catcher, featuring variegated leaves with red spines along the side, and it’s a must for anyone who collects succulents or cacti.
Agave ‘Shaka Zulu’ (Blue Glow)
A more subtle hybrid Agave, ‘Shaka Zulu’ features luscious rich green leaves, getting lighter towards the center of the rosette. Each leaf is edged with tiny red spines and tips.
Sometimes sold under ‘Royal Agave’ this is a very popular type, featuring bright green leaves, beveled in white stripes, the leaves ending in spikes.
This is also the perfect variety if you’re not fond of spiny plants, but you still want an Agave, as this variety only produces spines on the tips of the leaves, instead of the leaves being covered in spines.
Crassula barbata ‘Bearded-leaved Crassula’
One of the most rose-like succulents you can get, Crassula barbata produces bright green or silvery green foliage, edged in dense white cilia or hairs.
This Crassula is also capable of flowering, producing 30cm tall spikes of white or pink flowers in spring, towering above the 5cm plant.
Like the Agaves, this plant will die after it flowers, so collect the seed.
Hailing from the Cape of South Africa, this striking succulent grows a single rosette, though it is capable of growing two, with very fleshy, flat leaves.
Depending on the light, they may be bright green, dark green, or red in strong light.
As you can imagine, it’s a fairly tender plant, and it will get to a maximum height of 50 cm, though this may be as small as 10cm.
One of the more unusual rosette-forming succulents, Crassula tomentosa forms very small rosettes which look like clams scattered across soil.
The leaves are usually ringed with white at the edges, drawing attention to their unusual shape.
Echeveria agavoides ‘Maria’
A lovely hybrid, Echeveria agavoides ‘Maria’ features rich green leaves which end in red points, and the edges of each leaf are a lighter green, which contrasts well with the rest of the plant.
Echeveria ‘Pastel Perfection’
‘Pastel Perfection’, as the name suggests, is a very light-colored succulent which holds its own against any planting scheme or background. The leaves are a light blue, and in very strong light, the edges of the leaves will take on a soft pink.
Echeveria ‘Pink Champagne’
A fantastic Korean hybrid, this is a cross between Echeveria laui and Echeveria agavoides ‘Romeo’, producing the most fantastic shade of pink, while staying green at the base of each leaf.
The surface of the rosette has a somewhat waxy, powdery surface, and this hybrid can also come in purple, white, and green.
Echeveria ‘Texas Rose’
Like ‘Pastel Perfection’, this is a very lightly pigmented succulent, but the rosette leaves are much thinner and wider. It starts off a light blue, and if it sits in bright light, it can turn completely blush pink.
Echeveria purpusorum ‘White Form’
An unusual and hard to find variety of Echeveria purpusorum, ‘White Form’ features a single compact rosette with white speckles on the leaves, and red outlining the edges.
It’s worth knowing that this plant will lose its special white color if you give it too many nutrients, and it needs quite bright light.
Native to Mexico, this variety forms clumps of flat rosettes, keeping compact with short leaves.
If grown in the right conditions, it can get as wide as 15cm in diameter.
Haworthia limifolia f. Variegata
One of the most striking haworthias available, this variegated form is extremely easy to grow, so much so that people will overestimate your green-fingered abilities.
The rosette spirals out, the leaves pointing in opposite directions, each one ridged as is typical of a haworthia, but also featuring bright lime stripe variegation, contrasting well against the deep green leaves.
In some lights and at the right angle, this gorgeous plant resembles two staircases crossing over the other.
A stunning hybrid, ‘Twilight’ features bulbous, very silvery leaves which do turn pink in bright light. If you look at the rosette from above, you’ll see a stunning geometric formation, and it produces plenty of plantlets at the base.
If given the right conditions, it will produce large flowers in spring. Another plant you may want to try is the Moonstone Plant, or Pachyphytum oviferum.
‘Empress’ is the result of a cross between an Echeveria and Pachyveria ‘Myrtilla’, featuring rich blue leaves that form a loose rosette.
If you put it somewhere with a lot of direct sunlight, it will transform into a deep, rich green.
It’s a reliable bloomer, producing a large stem each year full of flowers.
A relatively large Sempervivum, ‘Azrael’ features pointy leaves covered in small hairs, producing many offsets during the course of a single rosette’s life.
Depending on where you put it, it can be a rich green, but it does take on a burgundy color under strong light.
A cross between Sempervivums and Aeoniums, this is a very interesting, and very new hybrid type of rosette succulent.
These plants feature the extremely hardy trait of Sempervivums with the beautiful large rosettes of Aeoniums.
Forming very tidy rosettes which turn a vibrant red when exposed to strong sunlight, this plant produces many offsets, making for a fantastic display of succulent rosettes.