Ideal for August Gardening

Picture taken at Krems an der Donau, Waldviertel, Austria

Dannette Hunnel

Growing jelly bean plants, aka pork and beans plants, is easy as long as you give them what they need, which is full to partial sun and temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Neither is a problem here in Arizona!

This plant is native to Mexico. Since Arizona was once part of Mexico, it goes without saying that this cute succulent actually belongs here. Popular for low cost, low maintenance, attracting birds, and being perennial, this plant gained its strange food-based nickname from the odd, chubby-shaped leaves with red tips. With the appearance of pork and beans or tiny jelly beans, the leaves go from green to red when it is exposed to full sun. The more sun it receives, the redder it becomes, as if it’s happily embarrassed!

This hardy, colorful succulent, good for extremely hot climates, can be trained to sprawl into patterns. Known as quite the companion plant, it mixes well with other succulents, rocks, flowers, and tropical plants. Expect this plant to grow from 4 to 12 inches tall and up to a foot and a half wide.

Plant in any season, (even summer) in loose, damp soil so the roots can breathe. They do tolerate most chalky, clay Arizona soils. Ventilation is key with this succulent. To avoid burning the leaves in the bright sunlight of the afternoon, a slow, deep watering (either early morning or evening) is ideal. Fertilizer is not needed. If you choose to fertilize, use only a small amount.

Unfortunately, this plant can be prone to slugs, aphids, and mealy bugs. If your garden has ever been subject to infestation, it might be best to place this plant in ceramic pots for air circulation or use as hanging plants rather than in the ground.

Jelly bean plants, aka pork and beans plants, have a tendency to get quite dense, so pruning is a good idea to keep them healthy and plump.

They’re easy to propagate, so pass along the clippings to your succulent-loving friends! Use a whole clean-cut leaf. Set it out for two days to callous. Then place the leaf on top of damp soil. Within two weeks, buds appear. Push the buds down into damp soil. Watch it take root and grow. Enjoy!