Echeverias are one of the most popular types of succulents and are frequently featured in succulent gardens, floral arrangements, terrariums, artwork, and even wedding cakes. Their stunning rosette shape, plump leaves, and large variety of colors give them a striking resemblance to flowers which makes them easy to decorate with. Their unique appearance and low maintenance needs have made Echeverias widely popular.
|Sun Exposure||Bright, direct light|
|Bloom Time||Early spring to summer|
|Native Area||Central America, Mexico, South America|
How to Grow Echeveria
Echeveria is a large genus of succulent plants native to parts of Central America, South America, and Mexico. Succulents in the Echeveria genus are distinguished from other succulents like Haworthias and Sempervivums by their plump, smooth leaves that display in a stunning rosette shape. They can range in size from a couple of inches tall to up to 12 inches tall depending on the variety.
Thanks to their ease of care, Echeverias have grown in popularity among gardeners and house plant enthusiasts alike. They are well-suited to bright, dry environments and appreciate periods of neglect, making Echeverias ideal house plants whether you have a green thumb or not!
Echeverias require a substantial amount of light in order to thrive. They should receive at least four to five hours of bright, direct light every day, and ideally six. If Echeverias do not receive enough light they will become elongated and leggy, often ‘reaching’ towards the closest source of light. It is also unlikely that they will flower. Placing your Echeveria outdoors during the summer months will help it to thrive. However, if you're moving your plant outside in the spring after growing indoors over the winter, make sure to make a gradual transition. Intense afternoon sunlight can cause sunburn, so place your plant where it receives a bit of shade when the sun is strongest.
Echeverias require a well-draining, porous growing medium to help keep excess moisture away from the roots. Standard cactus potting mixes are sufficient for Echeverias, which can be found at most nurseries and garden centers. Alternatively, you can create your own cactus soil by mixing three parts regular potting soil, two parts coarse sand, and one part perlite. While ideal houseplants, Echeverias also grow well in garden beds, as long as the soil is well drained.
Watering is the most important aspect of proper Echeveria care. Echeverias, like most succulents, do not require much water, but they also don't like to be too dry. If the leaves begin to wrinkle, it's an obvious sign the plant needs water. It is better to under-water Echeverias than to overwater them, as they can quickly succumb to root rot if overwatered. Wait until the soil has dried out completely before watering your Echeveria, and then give it a good watering, letting the water stream through the drainage holes of the pot. If you use a saucer under the pot, make sure to empty any standing water that drains through.
During the summer months, Echeveria will need to be watered more frequently than they will in the winter. In winter, water just enough to prevent wrinkled leaves.
Temperature and Humidity
Echeverias thrive in hot, dry conditions. For the most part, they do not tolerate cold temperatures or cold drafts well and too much humidity can lead to root rot. The average household temperature and humidity levels are sufficient for Echeverias—just be sure not to place them in a location that is too humid like a bathroom or laundry room. Most Echeverias are cold hardy to USDA zone 9a and can grow in ground. However, in colder areas, move the plant inside when freeze threatens.
Regular fertilizing is not a requirement for growing Echeveria, as they are accustomed to growing in nutrient-poor soil, which makes them susceptible to fertilizer burn if over-fertilized. Occasional fertilizing during the spring and summer months can help Echeverias during their active growing period but should be executed with caution. Use a cactus or succulent fertilizer, or a liquid fertilizer diluted two to four times more than normal.
Potting and Repotting
Plants in the Echeveria genus do not require frequent repotting and should only be repotted once they have outgrown their previous container. To repot an Echeveria plant ensure that the soil is completely dry before removing it from its potting container. Carefully remove the excess soil from the roots before placing the plant in its new pot. Repotting in the spring is usually recommended as the plant will be entering into its active growing period. Wait a week before watering after repotting to avoid the risk of root rot.
Propagating Echeveria is an easy and fun way to create new plants. Echeveria propagates in several main ways: through offsets, leaves, and stem cuttings. A happy and healthy Echeveria plant will produce offsets from its main stem, which can be separated and propagated as a separate plant.
Alternatively, Echeverias can be propagated through leaves. To do so, carefully separate a leaf from the main stem of the plant by gently wiggling it side to side until it pops off. Place the leaf flat on a tray and allow it to callus over for a few days before placing it in soil in a bright location—but avoid direct sunlight. Always propagate more than one leaf, as not all will grow into a new plant. Mist the soil. Once roots have developed, water sparingly as you would with a mature succulent. After a month or so, a tiny rosette will begin to develop at the end of the leaf. Do not separate the leaf from the rosette as it is supplying the new succulent with energy and nutrients. Over time, the old leaf will shrivel and die as the new succulent becomes more independent.
You can also take a stem cutting to propagate a new plant. While not the most common method, it's a good alternative if a plant has become leggy. The best time to take cuttings is in spring. Allow the stem to callous over for a few days, then insert it into a pot with fresh succulent potting soil. Water sparingly, as you would for a mature plant, allowing roots to develop.
Varieties of Echeveria
There are over a hundred varieties of Echeveria. Some of the more well-known varieties include Echeveria Black Prince, Echeveria Perle Von Nurnberg, Mexican Peacock Echeveria, Painted Echeveria Nodulosa and Echeveria Violet Queen.
Generally, Echeverias do not require regular pruning. However, if your Echeveria becomes leggy and elongated due to lack of sunlight it will require some pruning to keep the plant healthy and looking attractive.
Painted Lady Echeveria (Echeveria Derenbergii). New York Botanical Garden
Welsh, Pat. Pat Welsh's Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition): Month by Month. Chronicle Books, 2010