Echeveria desmetiana is a stunning species of flowering plant in the family Crassulaceae, native to Mexico. Its attractive rosette shape and vibrant purple-blue foliage make it a popular choice among succulent enthusiasts. With proper care, it can thrive as a houseplant or outdoor succulent, providing a unique and colorful addition to any garden.
Echeveria desmetiana is a rosette-forming succulent with long, narrow leaves that are typically around 6 inches (15 cm) in length and 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. The leaves may be slightly curved or curled and are often covered in a fine, powdery substance called farina, which helps to protect the plant from intense sunlight and drying out. The plant is known for its vibrant purple-blue foliage, which is the result of pigments called anthocyanins. The intensity of the color can vary depending on the amount of sunlight the plant receives, with more sun leading to deeper, more pronounced shades of purple and blue. In low light conditions, the leaves may appear more green in color.
In the summer months, Echeveria desmetiana produces small, star-shaped flowers on tall, slender stems. The flowers are typically pink or orange in color and are quite small, only about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.
Echeveria desmetiana is also known at Echeveria peacockii and Echeveria subsessilis. These names are interchangeable. (Source)
Habitat and Distribution
Echeveria desmetiana is native to the states of Hidalgo and Tamaulipas in Mexico, where it grows in rocky, arid environments at high elevations. It is often found growing on cliffs and rocky outcrops, where it can take advantage of the well-draining soil and bright, indirect sunlight.
While it is native to a specific region of Mexico, Echeveria desmetiana has become a popular plant for cultivation around the world due to its attractive appearance and relatively low-maintenance care requirements.
Cultivation and Care
Echeveria desmetiana can be grown as a houseplant or outdoor succulent in well-draining soil. When grown indoors, it is best to use a cactus or succulent potting mix, which will help to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.
How much light does Echeveria desmetiana need?
The plant prefers bright, indirect light, but can tolerate some direct sun, especially in the morning or late afternoon. If the leaves start to appear pale or yellow, it may be receiving too much direct sunlight and should be moved to a location with less intense light.
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How do you water Echeveria desmetiana?
Watering is an important aspect of care for Echeveria desmetiana. It is important to allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings, as the plant is prone to root rot if the soil is too wet. In general, it is best to water the plant once a week, depending on the humidity and temperature of the environment.
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How do you propagate Echeveria desmetiana?
Echeveria desmetiana can be propagated by leaf or stem cuttings. To propagate by leaf cuttings, simply snap off a healthy leaf and allow it to callous over for a few days before planting it in well-draining soil. Stem cuttings can be taken by cutting a piece of stem with at least one set of leaves and allowing it to callous over before planting. Both types of cuttings will eventually form new plants.
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Maintenance of Echeveria Desmetiana
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Echeveria desmetiana is generally a low-maintenance plant, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure it stays healthy and happy.
Pruning off any dead or damaged leaves is important to keep Echeveria desmetiana looking its best and to prevent rot or disease. Simply use clean scissors or a sharp knife to cut the leaf off at the base of the rosette.
Echeveria desmetiana may be prone to infestations of mealybugs and aphids, which can be treated with a suitable insecticide or removed manually. Mealybugs can be sprayed with a mixture of water and dish soap, while aphids can be removed by hand or with a strong stream of water.
Fertilizing Echeveria desmetiana once a month during the growing season can help to promote healthy growth and flowering. A succulent-specific fertilizer with a balanced ratio of nutrients is recommended. It is important not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to excess foliage growth at the expense of flowers.
Hybrids and Cultivars
In addition to the two cultivars mentioned earlier (Echeveria ‘Black Prince’ and Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’), there are many other hybrid cultivars of Echeveria desmetiana available, each with its own unique characteristics.
Some popular cultivars include Echeveria ‘Blue Curls’, which has curly, blue-gray leaves, and Echeveria ‘Tippy’, which has green leaves with a reddish tinge and pink flowers.
Because Echeveria desmetiana is a popular parent plant in hybridization, there are many variations available, each with its own distinctive appearance.
In conclusion, Echeveria desmetiana is a visually striking and low-maintenance plant that is well-suited for cultivation as a houseplant or outdoor succulent. With proper care, it can thrive and provide a unique and colorful addition to any garden. Its attractive rosette shape and vibrant purple-blue foliage make it a popular choice among succulent enthusiasts. By following a few simple guidelines for watering, lighting, and fertilizing, Echeveria desmetiana can be a reliable and long-lasting addition to any collection.
We hope this comprehensive guide has helped you learn more about Echeveria desmetiana and how to care for it. Whether you’re an experienced succulent grower or a beginner, this plant is sure to add some interest and beauty to your collection. Happy gardening!
More about Echeveria desmetiana
The official name according to the International Crassulaceae Network is Echeveria desmetiana. There are, however, a couple of other names is goes by like Echeveria peacockii and Echeveria subsessilis. At the bottom of this page is a link to the ICN so you can read up about the naming drama in the botanical world.
Anyways, Echeveria desmetiana is one succulent that I just can’t get enough of. It produces offsets from its base like crazy during the summer growing season and the contrast between the pale leaves and bright orange/red flowers is dramatic.
It is considered sessile or stemless and given the proper amount of light will stay low to the ground.
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General Guide to Echeveria Care
These beauties are one of the most popular succulents for beginners and experienced gardeners alike. There are hundreds of echeveria species, hybrids and cultivars which makes them a fun succulent to collect. Their origin is mostly from Mexico and the rest from Central America, South America and the United States.
Echeveria Care Indoors - Try to Mimic the Outdoors
Indoor echeveria kept as houseplants generally won’t need watering as frequently as the ones kept outdoors. Water them once the soil dries out AND they show signs of thirst. In the winter, they can go longer in between waterings when they are dormant.
When caring for echeveria indoors, be sure to give them lots and lots of light- natural or supplemented by grow lights. Most echeverias aren’t the best succulent to grow indoors as house plants because they need so much sun to keep your echeveria from growing tall. They become weaker and unhealthy when they start to lose their compact rosette shape.
In addition to lots of light, be sure to provide your indoor echeveria with lots of ventilation. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to set a fan up near them to keep air flowing all the time. Stagnant air is the perfect environment for harmful bacteria and fungus which can lead to rot.
Best Soil for Echeveria
Never let the soil remain waterlogged by using a very porous, gritty, well draining soil in a pot with a drainage hole. Amend your soil with at least 50% inorganic amendment. Echeveria are sensitive to root rot when over watered. See the Guide to Soil for Succulents for more information about the different amendments that people use for succulents and where you can buy them. Echeveria can tolerate long periods without water as it is stored in their fleshy leaves and stem.
How to Water Echeveria
Water echeveria varieties a little more during their active summer growing season between March and September approximately. Be sure to let the soil dry out between waterings. Water sparingly in the winter when they are dormant. They will not be able to take in as much water through their roots when they are in a dormant state. In their natural habitat, they have long periods of drought between heavy rain events so try to mimic this when you are watering.
Always avoid getting the leaves wet especially in humid areas to keep water from remaining trapped between the leaves. This will lead to rot. Bottom watering works well in the case of potted echeveria. It takes a LOT longer to kill an echeveria from dehydration than overwatering, so always err on the side of underwatering.
Echeveria Sunlight Needs
The more light your echeveria gets, the more brilliant its colors will become. During the cooler months, their colors really get dramatic because you’ll be watering them less as well.
Bending leaves and stretching stems indicate low light levels. This is also known as etiolation. Bending and stretching are their way of trying to reach for more light by increasing their surface area. To fix this, gradually increase the amount of light over a few days to a week to avoid sunburn. Putting an echeveria in full sunlight abruptly will cause irreversible sun damage.
If the etiolation is severe, you will need to behead your echeveria, let the cut end callus and replant it in dry succulent soil. Give it the proper amount of light to avoid etiolation again. From there, you can propagate the lower leaves and babies will form on the remaining stem.
How to Propagate Echeveria
Propagation of your echeveria can happen by leaf, seeds and stem cuttings. Be sure that the leaves make a clean break from the stem node if propagating leaves. A mature echeveria will have more propagation success than a young one.
Do echeveria die after flowering?
Generally, no. Echeveria are not monocarpic like sempervivum, aeonium and agave. They will bloom yearly in the spring and summer with long arching flower stalks that have several flowers at the ends. Their small, brightly colored flowers will last for a few weeks and will attract hummingbirds and other pollinators to your outdoor succulent garden. The energy needed to create a flower stalk can be taxing on your echeveria, so you may notice the leaves starting to look a little shabby. This is normal and once the flower stalks are removed, your echeveria will begin to perk up again. I actually cut the bloom stalks off right before they flower because I prefer the energy to go to making new leaves rather than flowers. I also find that the leaves on bloom stalks are more likely to propagate successfully so I remove those as well. See my Guide to Propagating Leaves for my step-by-step leaf propagation process.
I did mention that they GENERALLY don’t die after flowering. On occasion, echeveria will throw out a terminal inflorescence (flower stalk) from the very very center of the plant. When this happens, the echeveria will die after flowering. In my experience, the echeveria varieties that have given me terminal blooms are Echeveria ‘Afterglow’ and E. ‘Blue Sky.’
Fertilize echeveria only during their summer growing period with a fertilizer low in nitrogen, balanced NPK numbers and diluted to at least half strength of what is recommended on the label.
Echeveria Pests & Problems
Echeveria are prone to mealy bugs. At the first sight of mealy bugs, pick them off with a small paintbrush dipped in isopropyl alcohol and treat the soil with a systemic insecticide. Quarantine any affected plants so the mealy bugs don’t spread. Most echeveria problems, however, are because of too much water and not enough light.
Echeveria Shape & Texture
Echeveria are rose shaped plants and can send out offsets horizontally from their stems via stolons. When planted in the ground, echeveria can form wide mounds around the mother plant.
There are many echeveria types and their thick foliage ranges from powdery, fuzzy, smooth edges, wrinkled edges to bumpy surfaces.
Echeveria Cold Hardiness
Echeveria can withstand temperatures down to about 20°F (USDA Zones 9-10) outdoors. They can handle a very light frost, but definitely can’t handle consistently freezing temperatures.
Origin of the Name
The name Echeveria comes from the Mexican botanical artist Atanasio Echeverria y Godoy by the French botanist Augustin Pyramus deCandolle. Echeverria y Godoy produced thousands of botanical illustrations while exploring Mexico and Central America.