Echeveria Succulent Identification Cards and Care Guides
Discover the beauty and simplicity of Echeveria! Whether you are a seasoned plant enthusiast or just starting to develop a green thumb, this guide will take you on a journey through the fascinating world of Echeveria. With their gorgeous rosette formations and stunning hues, they are the epitome of low-maintenance beauty. From the basics of care to the many different types available, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know to cultivate a thriving collection. So sit back, relax, and let’s embark on a journey through the world of echeveria!
Caring for Your Echeveria
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.
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 them indoors, be sure to give them lots and lots of light- natural or supplemented by grow lights. Most aren’t the best succulent to grow indoors as house plants because they need so much sun to keep yours 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.
The best soil for Echeveria is a well-draining soil mix that won’t hold onto excess moisture. Echeveria, like many other succulents, are susceptible to root rot and other problems if they’re allowed to sit in water for too long. A well-draining soil mix will help to prevent this by allowing excess water to drain out of the pot and away from the roots of the plant.
To create a well-draining soil mix, you can mix equal parts potting soil and coarse sand. Alternatively, you can look for a potting mix specifically designed for succulents, which will often contain ingredients like perlite or pumice to improve drainage.
In addition to using a well-draining soil mix, it’s also important to provide a hole at the bottom of the pot for echeveria. This will allow excess water to drain out of the pot, preventing the roots of the plant from sitting in water and becoming waterlogged.
Overall, the best soil is a well-draining mix that allows excess water to drain out of the pot, and provides the plant with the nutrients it needs to thrive. By using the right soil and providing proper care, you can help your echeveria to grow and flourish.
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 one from dehydration than overwatering, so always err on the side of underwatering. Check out the Watering Guide for more info.
The more light yours 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 yours, 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.
For detailed info on how much light succulents need, see the Light Guide here.
Propagation 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. For a full guide on propagating succulents see the Propagation Guide here.
Generally, no. Echeveria are not monocarpic and have death blooms 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, so you may notice the leaves starting to look a little shabby. This is normal and once the flower stalks are removed, it 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 for my step-by-step leaf propagation process.
I did mention that they GENERALLY don’t die after flowering. On occasion, they 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 E. ‘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. See my Guide to Fertilizing for detailed info.
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 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 are not very cold hardy and 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. Learn what your USDA Zone is and what that means to your succulents here.
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. (Source: https://www.smgrowers.com/)
Echeveria are not known to be toxic or poisonous. Learn which succulents are toxic here.
The growing season for Echeveria succulents is in the late Spring to early Fall. They go dormant in the winter. Learn about Succulent Dormancy here.
What are some unique adaptations of Echeveria?
Here are some unique adaptations of Echeveria:
• Producing offsets. Many Echeveria species produce offsets or “pups” that can be used for propagation. The offsets sprout from the main plant and can be detached and rooted to produce new plants. This is a form of asexual reproduction that allows them to spread and adapt to a range of conditions.
• Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). Echeveria utilize CAM photosynthesis, which is an adaptation to arid conditions. CAM photosynthesis allows them to open their stomata at night and fix carbon dioxide into organic acids. This reduces water loss through transpiration since stomata are closed during the hot daytime. The organic acids are then used for photosynthesis during the day. This adaptation helps them conserve water in dry environments.
• Storage of water in leaves. Echeveria have succulent leaves that store water. The thick, fleshy leaves are an adaptation to dry conditions that allows them to survive periods of drought. The water stored in the leaves sustains the plant until the next rainfall. The water-storing leaves, along with CAM photosynthesis, enables them to thrive in dry climates and soils with minimal rainfall.
• Waxy coating on leaves and stems. Many Echeveria have a waxy coating on their leaves and stems. This wax acts as a barrier against water loss and is an adaptation to reduce transpiration in hot, dry conditions. The waxy coating helps them retain moisture, which is crucial to coping with arid environments. It also protects the leaves and stems from sun damage and extreme temperatures.
• Dormancy in dry conditions. Some Echeveria enter a drought-induced dormancy as an adaptation to very dry periods. When water is scarce, their growth slows or stops, and they drop leaves to reduce water loss. This dormancy allows them to survive until more water is available. Once conditions improve, the plants resume growth. This adaptation helps ensure they persist through lengthy droughts.
Here are some additional details on the adaptations:
• Production of colorful leaves and flowers. Many species produce vividly colored leaves and flowers. The conspicuous foliage and blooms attract pollinators like hummingbirds and insects. By attracting pollinators, the colorful leaves and flowers aid in reproduction and the spread of Echeveria. The striking colors have also made certain varieties popular as ornamental garden and houseplants.
• Formation of tight rosettes. Some Echeveria form tight rosettes of leaves that provide protection for the inner parts of the plant. The outer leaves act as a shield against extreme temperatures, intense sunlight, and moisture loss. The rosette structure is an adaptation that helps them cope with harsh, dry conditions. As the lower outer leaves die off, they form an insulating layer around the base of the plant.
• Production of hairs or powdery coating. Certain Echeveria have hairs or a powdery coating on their leaves and stems. These fine hairs or powdery substance help reflect sunlight and limit water loss through transpiration. They are an adaptation to arid, sunny environments that enables them to conserve moisture. The hairs or powder also provide protection against temperature extremes and sun damage.
• Shallow root systems. Echeveria have shallow root systems that absorb moisture from light rains and runoff before it evaporates. The shallow roots are an adaptation to take advantage of this available moisture in dry conditions. Although the roots do not reach deep into the soil, they are sufficient for their water needs during drought. The shallow roots also allows them to be easily propagated from leaves and offsets.
Those are some additional details on the unique adaptations of Echeveria that enable them to thrive in hot, dry climates with minimal rainfall. The adaptations help them survive periods of drought and limit moisture loss, allowing these succulents to cope with arid conditions.
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