How to Grow and Care for Mexican Snowballs (Echeveria elegans)

Mexican snowball succulent (Echeveria elegans) in a white pot with a gold watering can in the background.

The Spruce / Cori Sears

Mexican snowballs (Echeveria elegans) are one of the most well-known and popular varieties of Echeveria succulents. Also commonly known as white Mexican rose succulents or Mexican gem succulents, Mexican snowballs are characterized by thick, fleshy blue-green to silver-green leaves that grow in an attractive rosette shape. As their name suggests, these succulents are native to Mexico and can be commonly found in semi-desert habitats across the country. These gorgeous, low-maintenance succulents are popular as houseplants and garden plants and even won the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. 

  Botanical Name Echeveria elegans
  Common Name Mexican snowball, Mexican gem, white Mexican rose
  Plant Type Succulent
  Mature Size 8 inch. tall, 12 inch. wide
  Sun Exposure Full
  Soil Type Sandy, well-drained
  Soil pH Acidic
  Bloom Time Spring, summer
  Flower Color Pink, yellow
  Hardiness Zones 9-11, USA
  Native Area North America
Toxicity Non-toxic
Close up of a Mexican snowball succulent (Echeveria elegans) with flower stalks against a white background

The Spruce / Cori Sears

Mexican Snowball Care

Mexican snowballs are low-maintenance succulents that thrive on neglect. Like most succulents, they enjoy sunny, warm conditions and are extremely drought-tolerant. They are large succulents that can grow up to 8 inches tall and 12 inches wide in ideal conditions. Mexican snowballs can be grown outdoors, in containers, or indoors as houseplants year-round.

Light

As with most succulents, Mexican snowballs require several hours of bright, direct sunlight a day in order to thrive. Lack of light will cause this Echeveria to get leggy and lose its attractive compact shape. 

When grown indoors, a west or south-facing window is best. If necessary, these succulents do well under grow lights as well. When grown outdoors, Mexican snowballs can be planted in a location that receives a combination of direct and partial light throughout the day. 

Soil

True to their semi-desert native habitat, Mexican snowballs do best in sandy, well-draining soil. They cannot tolerate being waterlogged so their soil should drain easily and dry quickly. Avoid humus-rich mediums as they hold water for longer periods of time. 

Mexican snowballs also do well in nutrient-poor soil. A standard cactus or succulent potting mix is great for these succulents.

Water

Mexican snowballs are known for being drought-tolerant and you should avoid overwatering them at all costs. Generally, it is better to underwater a succulent than to overwater it. If needed, these succulents can survive months with little to no water. 

Before watering, ensure that the soil has dried out completely and then water well. In the winter, scale back on watering while the plant is in dormancy.

Temperature and Humidity

As a desert plant, Mexican snowballs enjoy hot, dry conditions. They do not do well in overly humid conditions, and they cannot tolerate cold weather. Typical household temperature and humidity levels are fine for Mexican snowballs if you are growing them indoors. 

If you are growing these succulents outdoors, they should be grown in containers so they can be easily overwintered indoors unless you live in a location that experiences warm weather year-round. Mexican snowballs are hardy in USDA zones 9-11.

Fertilizer

Mexican snowballs are not considered high feeders and do not require regular fertilization. They can benefit from an annual fertilization in the early-mid spring with a fertilizer that is designed for cacti and succulents.

Are Mexican Snowballs Toxic?

Mexican snowballs are considered nontoxic to humans and pets. However, it is not advisable to eat them as they are not considered edible.

Pruning

These succulents do not require pruning; however, if Mexican snowballs get leggy, there are ways to cut them back and revitalize their compact flower-like shape. 

To fix a leggy Mexican snowball, cut off the top part of the stem that is not leggy and still somewhat compact and replant it in a separate container. Once you have cut off the top part of the succulent, remove the bottom couple of leaves from the new rosette to expose the bare stem. This bare part will be buried beneath the soil and develop new roots. Before planting the newly separated plant, allow the stem to callous over for 12-24 hours. This will help to prevent rot once it is planted. 

Once calloused, the new plant can be potted in a standard cactus or succulent soil mix. Don’t water the new plant until roots have begun to form, after approximately 2-3 weeks.

Propagating Mexican Snowballs

Mexican snowballs are very easily propagated through leaf cuttings and division. Mature plants will grow offsets which can be separated from the mother plant and planted in their own pots. Alternatively, new succulents can be grown through leaf propagation. 

To propagate Mexican snowballs by leaf propagation, gently twist off a healthy leaf from the succulent, ensuring that it "pops" off the stem without tearing. The base of the leaf should be completely intact. Once removed, put the leaf on top of dry soil and place in a location that receives bright, indirect light. Within 2-3 weeks you should begin to notice small pink or white roots sprouting from the end of the leaf. At this point, you can begin lightly watering or misting the new roots, allowing the soil to dry thoroughly between waterings. 

After a couple of months you will see a small succulent growing from the end of the leaf! Continue caring for this new succulent until the parent leaf dries up and falls off. At this point you can move the new plant to a location that receives bright, direct light and care for it as you would a mature plant.

Potting and Repotting Mexican Snowballs

When it comes to repotting, Mexican snowballs aren’t picky. They don’t require frequent repotting and they can tolerate being rootbound. Since they do well in poor quality soil, they also don’t require frequent soil refreshes. 

That being said, it is best to repot Mexican snowballs once they have outgrown their previous potting container. Roots growing out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot is one indication it may be time to repot! When choosing a new pot for your succulent, don’t size up too much. A pot that is 2-3 inches larger than the previous pot is perfect.

Overwintering

Mexican snowballs are not frost-tolerant and will need to be overwintered indoors if you are growing them outside and you experience cold winters. The easiest way to do this is to grow them in containers so you can simply move the container indoors and grow them as houseplants throughout the winter.

Common Pests/Diseases

Generally Mexican snowballs are not bothered by too many pests. However, some common pests such as mealybugs and aphids can be attracted to these succulents, regardless of whether they are grown indoors or outdoors. Regularly checking for pests and applying preventative treatments will help to mitigate any potential infestations.