The Spectacular World of Succulents

A variety of Graptopetalum succulents. (Photo: dinodentist/Shutterstock)

Succulents are often touted as some of the easiest plants to care for, but that's not the only reason they're so popular! Coming in a variety of colors, textures and shapes, they also tend to be some of the most distinctive and gorgeous plants you'll see at your local nursery.

Characterized by their ability to store water in their fleshy leaves or bodies, succulents can be found in 60 different plant families, though the vast majority of species belong to the Agavoideae, Aizoaceae, Cactaceae and Crassulaceae families.

Agave tequilana. (Photo: asharkyu/Shutterstock)

In addition to their aesthetic qualities and ease of caretaking, many succulents are celebrated for their practical uses.

For example, the sticky gel of the aloe vera plant has soothing or moisturizing properties when applied to irritated or sunburnt skin. And you can thank the blue agave plant (like the one above) for the existence of tequila.

An arrangement including succulents from various genera, including Echeveria, Senecio and Sedum. (Photo: asharkyu/Shutterstock)

Although succulents have a reputation for being hardy, keep in mind that that's not always the case! Before you adopt one of these oddly charismatic plants, do your research and find out everything you need to know about succulents to ensure the plant will thrive under your care.

In the meantime, continue below to gain some dreamy inspiration for your future succulent garden!

Baby sempervivum are suspended in small ceramic pots. (Photo: Joanna Stankiewicz-Witek/Shutterstock)
Purple-blue Echeveria. (Photo: alybaba/Shutterstock)
This colorful succulent garden arrangement includes genuses Sedum, Echeveria and Sempervivum. (Photo: Lee Yiu Tung/Shutterstock)
Sedum hispanicum. (Photo: BestPhotoStudio/Shutterstock)
Pink cups are filled with succulents belonging to the Sempervivum genera. (Photo: vlada.marchenko/Shutterstock)
Crassula Perforata. (Photo: You Touch Pix of EuToch/Shutterstock)
Crassula nudicaulis. (Photo: Malgorzata Kistryn/Shutterstock)
A rock garden filled with various Echeveria and Sempervivum succulents. (Photo: Lee Yiu Tung/Shutterstock)
A variety of succulents in the Echeveria and Senecio genuses. (Photo: asharkyu/Shutterstock)
A plant belonging to the aloe family. (Photo: naibank/Shutterstock)
Opuntia cactus thrives in the arid environment of Arizona. (Photo: Celig/Shutterstock)

Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.