Echeveria is a genus of about 150 species of succulent plants in the Stonecrop family, Crassulaceae, native to semi-desert areas of Central America, Mexico, and northwestern South America. These plants have been extensively hybridized, so in addition to the main species, there are hundreds of cultivars and hybrids offering a wide range of colors, sizes and leaf shapes. They usually produce stunning flowers.
Echeverias are one of the most popular succulents thanks to its charming rosettes with gorgeous water-storing leaves. Some plants can grow to the size of a dinner plate and their pearlescent tones make them stunning focal points for potted arrangements, rock gardens, favors, decor and much more. Echeverias are polycarpic, which means they can produce flowers multiple times. Often numerous offsets are produced and are commonly known as "Hen and Chicks", which can also refer to Sempervivum, which is significantly different from Echeveria. In winter, many Echeverias lose their leaves, though not all.
The genus is named after the 18th-century Mexican botanical artist Atanasio Echeverría y Godoy.
Growing Conditions for Echeveria
Echeverias make ideal potted plants, but will also thrive in the ground. They need soil that drains quickly. This helps prevent moisture from rotting the roots. Many growers will create their own potting mix. However, commercial cactus and succulent potting soil will work fine.
These succulents like full sun. However, try to avoid these 2 things: drastic sunlight changes and summer afternoon full sun. Dramatic changes in lighting can stress plants out. If you are moving your Echeverias outside in the spring, do it gradually. The intense afternoon sun can cause sunburn. During the winter, when your succulents are inside, put them near the brightest window in your house. They will stretch if they do not have enough sunlight.
Echeverias are tender succulents. Many will tolerate several degrees below freezing, but it is not recommended growing them in the ground if they will be subjected to harsh conditions. You can keep them healthy during the cold months by moving them indoors. Then, once the threat of frost has passed, move them back outside in the spring. Most Echeverias can tolerate cold down to USDA hardiness zones 9a, 20 °F (−6.7 °C).
The ideal size of a pot for most succulents is that it is about 5 to 10 % bigger than the size of the plant at the surface. This means that an Echeveria of around 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter would fit into something that is around 4.5 inches (11 cm) in diameter, or just a little bigger than the rosette.
General Care for Echeveria
The most important part of good Echeveria care is watering. Echeverias do not like to be kept too wet, but they also do not like to be kept too dry. Wrinkled leaves indicate the plant needs more water. Provide moderate amounts of water from spring to fall. Soak and dry method is the preferred schedule for watering Echeverias. Let the soil dry out completely before you water again. Potted plants should not be left in a wet saucer. When you water Echeveria, water the soil and not the rosette.
Echeverias grow well without fertilizer but may benefit from the extra nutrients. Use a slow-release fertilizer in spring or a liquid fertilizer diluted 2 to 4 times more than normal and used less often than recommended. Remember that it is a lot easier to over-fertilize succulents than to under-fertilize.
Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. Make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.
Echeveria is self-pruning. All you may need to do is pick out the dead leaves or flowers. Picking out the dead leaves prevents rot or disease taking over the plant.
How to Propagate Echeveria
Echeverias are some of the easiest succulents to propagate. They are usually propagated from offsets or leaves, but they can be also raised from stem cuttings and seed.
These succulents often self-propagate through offsets nestled against the mother rosette. They are easy to separate and grow. Just pull the little rosette away and replant it in potting soil.
Most Echeverias can be easily propagated from leaf cuttings. To propagate a leaf cutting, gently twist the leaf from the stem. Allow the leaf to callous over for a day or two before placing it in potting soil. Use more than one leaf because not all leaves you try to propagate will be successful.
Propagation by stem cuttings is also pretty easy. However, since this method is best done with plants that have branches or stems, it is not the most common method for Echeverias with rosettes that grow low to the ground.
Seeds can be harvested when dry and planted. They will sprout and new plants will develop. Seedlings can take from 18 months to 3 years to mature.
Pests and Diseases of Echeveria
Toxicity of Echeveria
Echeverias are safe around pets and humans, although it is not advisable to eat them.
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