How to Grow and Care for Echeverias (Echeveria spp.)

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Echeveria succulents are lovely fleshy plants that grow in a rosette form. They come in a variety of different leaf colors and are ideal for growing outdoors in a rock or succulent garden or indoors in a pretty pot on a bright windowsill.

These plants originate from Mexico and are frost tender. Therefore, if you live in an area that experiences cold winters, you’ll definitely want to grow Echeveria plants indoors.

The succulents in this genus can be quite varied in their leaf colors. There are plants with blue-gray, gray-green, red, or purple fleshy leaves. Some species have leaves culminating in a point while there are also plenty of hybrids that have frilly leaves.

Most of these species will flower in the summer by producing long stems that will bend toward the sun. Along these stems, clusters of bell-shaped flowers will grow in a huge variety of colors.

History

The Echeveria genus was originally named after 18th-century Mexican painter, Anastasio Echeverria. 

The common name of “hens and chicks” was given to a few different Echeveria species because of how the main plant often produces offsets or new plantlets. These usually grow in a cluster around the mother plant.

Plant Facts

Scientific nameEcheveria
Common namesHens & chicks, Painted ladies
GenusEcheveria
FamilyCrassulaceae family
Height1 foot
Width1 foot
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone8 to 11
OriginMexico, Central America & Northwestern South America
Flower colorsCream, yellow,red, pink and orange flowers
Blooming seasonSummer
Plant/Flower special featuresHighly decorative plants of varying colors that don’t grow too large.

How to Plant and Grow Echeveria Succulents

Echeveria succulents appreciate being grown in full sun but should be protected from the harsh afternoon sun. If you live in USDA zones 8 to 11, you can grow your Echeveria outdoors in a rock or succulent garden.

However, if your winters get a bit cold, it’s best to grow these plants indoors in a nice decorative unglazed clay pot with plenty of drainage holes as they’re not cold-hardy like many other succulents. Use a succulent mix that is free-draining and place your plants on a bright window sill.

How to Propagate Echeveria Plants

Echeveria plants are very easy to propagate. You can either use side shoot rosettes or stem or leaf cuttings, depending on the species that you’re growing.

To propagate new plants from offsets, do the following:

  • Cut or gently remove the small rosettes off from the sides of the mother rosette.
  • Leave them to sit in a shady, dry spot for a few days.
  • Once a callus has formed on the cut end, pot these into containers filled with a cactus mix that you’ve added some coarse sand to.

To propagate new plants from leaves, do the following:

  • Very carefully remove an outer leaf from the mother plant by wiggling it from side to side until it comes off the plant.
  • Leave the leaves that you’ve removed for a few days in a dry, shady spot.
  • Once you notice a callus forming, plant the leaf into a pot filled with a succulent mix. Keep this out of direct sunlight for a couple of months but make sure the plant still receives plenty of bright light.

With the ruffled hybrid varieties, the propagation method is a little unusual. These plants produce a tall stem on which the rosettes grow. The lower leaves will generally fall off the stem but it will continue to grow taller and taller. After a while, the plant loses its attractive appearance. Here’s what to do when this happens:

  • Cut off the head of the plant with a sharp knife around 1 to 2 inches below the lower rosette leaves.
  • Put this onto the top of an empty pot. You want to ensure that the lower leaves are resting on the rim of the pot.
  • Place this pot with the head of the plant in a shady spot and in a few weeks, you’ll see roots forming on the cut end.
  • Once this happens, you can plant this into a pot filled with a succulent mix, making sure that the stem is completely buried and the lower leaves are flush with the soil.
  • You don’t even have to discard the beheaded stem either. Keep it in a brightly lit spot and keep watering when the soil is dry.
  • After a little time, new plant rosettes will start to grow from the nodes in the stem.
  • These can be cut off and treated exactly the same as the head of the plant.

Echeveria Care and Maintenance

Once they’re growing, Echeveria needs very little extra care. They should only be watered when the soil is completely dry and should be kept in a warm environment. When watering your Echeveria, care should be taken to ensure that the leaves don’t get wet.

Here are all important echeveria succulent care tips you should know:

Soil

Because Echeverias don’t like having wet roots, they need well-draining soil or potting mix. Ideally,  you should use a cactus or succulent mix or you can make your own mix by mixing some coarse sand and perlite into a standard potting mix. 

Water

Use the soak and dry method for watering these plants. Wait until the soil is completely dry and give the plant a good soaking. Ensure that all the excess moisture can drain away and then, don’t water again until the soil has completely dried out. This ensures that your plant does not succumb to root rot.

When watering, make sure that you only apply the water to the soil and not the leaves of the plant. This is because some water could get trapped inside the rosettes and this could cause the plant to rot. 

If you notice that your plant has wrinkled leaves, then it’s definitely time to give it some water.

Fertilizer

You can feed your succulents with a liquid fertilizer in spring but make sure that you dilute it to half strength and avoid fertilizing during winter when the plants are dormant. 

Sunlight

When grown indoors, Echeverias need plenty of light. Otherwise, the leaves are likely to stretch out toward the light and the plant may lose its lovely tight rosette shape. It’s best to place these plants on the windowsill of a south or west-facing window so that your plant receives plenty of bright direct light. 

If you are growing your Echeverias on a window sill, make sure that you turn the pot periodically so that you get even growth. This is because these succulent plants will always grow toward the light.

On the other hand, if you live in a warm climate and want to grow your Echeverias outdoors, you should give them a little protection from the harsh afternoon sun by planting them under trees with open canopies.

Temperature and Humidity

Echeverias prefer warmer weather and will thrive in temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) or hotter. In general, they don’t like cold temperatures.

These plants are used to desert conditions and don’t like too much humidity. Therefore, a warm and dry environment is best for them.

Pruning

These plants don’t require any pruning but you can give them a little tidy up every now and then by removing any damaged growth.

Pest and diseases

Mealybugs and thrips are the most common pests that you’ll find on these plants. Especially if they’re growing indoors. Look for these in the leaf axils and on the flowers.

You can easily get rid of these pests by spraying the plant with full-strength rubbing alcohol. This won’t harm the plant but will kill the pests instantly.

Uses of Echeverias

These plants are primarily grown for their decorative value. Due to the variety of different leaf colors, these plants are highly coveted by succulent growers with some having an extensive collection of different varieties and cultivars.

Common Varieties and Cultivars

In total, there are around 150 species of succulent plants in the Echeveria genus. Here are just a few types of echeveria succulents that people often like to grow both in pots and in their succulent gardens.

  • E. x imbricata
  • Echeveria agavoides (Molded wax Agave)
  • E. pulvinata (Chenille plant)
  • E. pallida
  • E. subrigida
  • Echeveria ‘Afterglow’
  • Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’
  • E. x gilva (Wax rosette)
  • Echeveria ‘Black Prince’
  • Echeveria elegans (Mexican snowball)
  • Echeveria nodulosa (Painted Echeveria)
  • Echeveria ‘Violet Queen’ (Violet Queen hen and chicks)
  • E. gibbiflora
  • E. coccinea (Red Echeveria)
  • E. multicaulis (Copper rose)

Conclusion

Echeverias are delightful little succulents with blue green leaves that are easy to grow and require minimal care. They’re not frost-hardy so it’s best to grow them indoors on a bright window sill.

However, in warmer regions, these lovely plants add a different dimension to landscape plantings because of their perfectly shaped rosettes in a variety of different leaf colors.

See more types of succulent plants and how to grow succulents indoors on our website.