A GUIDE TO GROWING ECHEVERIAAdd color to indoor and outdoor spaces with this easy-care succulent plant
Photo by: jamesptrharris / Shutterstock
With the increased popularity of succulents, more gardeners are discovering echeveria. This stylish plant forms symmetrical rosettes with fleshy leaves that come in a wide array of colors and forms. With hundreds of different varieties, this versatile plant can be grown indoors or outside, as a tabletop accent, in floral arrangements, terrariums, containers, living walls, rock gardens, and waterwise borders.
When given the right growing conditions, echeveria is virtually carefree. Like other succulents, this drought-tolerant plant stores water in its leaves, allowing it to survive through dry spells. A member of Crassulaceae, Echeveria is closely related to other popular succulents including hen and chicks (Sempervivum). Here’s how to add these charmers to your home decor or landscape.
- GROWING ECHEVERIA
- ECHEVERIA CARE AND MAINTENANCE
- ECHEVERIA VARIETIES
- DISPLAY IDEAS
- ECHEVERIA LOOKALIKES
Echeveria, hen and chicks
USDA Zones 9-11, or grown as a houseplant
Easy to moderate
Echeverias need at least 4-6 hours of bright light or direct sun per day.
Slow to fast, depending on the variety and growing conditions.
Fleshy smooth or crinkled evergreen leaves form a symmetrical rounded rosette. Spoon-like leaves have pointed tips and a protective waxy coating. Colors occur in shades of green, pink, blue, grey, purple, orange, burgundy, and bicolors.
Clusters of bell-shaped flowers develop on long slender stems, blooming from spring to fall. Flowers occur in sunset hues of yellow, coral, pink and orange. Blooms will be scant when grown indoors.
Habit and size:
Low mounding habit with horizontal offsets. Individual rosettes can grow 1 to 4 inches tall and 2 to 12 inches in diameter. Offsets may reach 14 to 24 inches tall, with clumps of rosettes spreading as much as 24 to 36 inches wide, depending on the variety.
ECHEVERIA GROWING TIPS
Echeveria elegans growing in rock garden. Photo by: Tim Ludwig / Millette Photomedia
Where to grow:
Indoors, place in an area that receives bright direct light, such as a south-facing window; or supplement with artificial lighting. Outdoors, place in a spot that gets at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight.
Temperature and humidity:
Echeveria prefer hot, dry conditions. Cold temperatures or drafts can lead to plant damage. Too much humidity can cause root rot. Average household conditions are usually sufficient. Outdoor plants can tolerate temperatures between 35 to 95 degrees F. Ideally, 65 to 80 degrees F in spring and summer, slightly cooler in winter.
Plants require a well-draining, porous soil to thrive, and prefer a slightly acidic pH of 6.0. Use cactus potting mix or make your own by mixing three parts all-purpose potting soil, two parts coarse sand, and one part perlite.
Choose a pot that is ten percent wider than the diameter of the plant and slightly deeper than the root ball. Make sure containers have good drainage holes to prevent root rot.
Echeveria can be propagated from offsets, individual leaves, or by seed.
ECHEVERIA CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Echeverias are drought-tolerant and prefer dry conditions. Water echeverias only after the soil has dried out completely. Avoid getting leaves wet and don’t overwater to prevent root rot. Plants will need more frequent watering during summer, every week or two depending on temperature and soil conditions. Reduce watering in winter when growth slows down.
Echeverias need very little fertilizing. Apply a slow-release all-purpose fertilizer in spring when plants are actively growing. Dilute by 2 to 4 times the regular strength and apply less often than recommended. Cease fertilizing during winter months.
Trim off brown, yellow or damaged leaves as needed.
Plants seldom need repotting, only when they outgrow their current container. Repot in spring and wait until soil is completely dry. Remove from the pot and gently brush soil from roots. Place in a new container that is 1/2 to 1 inch larger than the previous pot and use fresh soil. Water thoroughly and place in bright indirect light until plant has recovered in 2 to 3 weeks.
Pests can include mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids, scale, nematodes, or root meal bugs. Rinse off bugs with water or dab affected areas with 70% rubbing alcohol. For more severe cases, treat with a general purpose insecticide.
Size: 2 to 4 inches tall; clumps up to 20 inches wide
Color: Pale blue foliage, pink flower stems and bracts, pink and yellow flowers
Also called pearl echeveria, the pale blue-green rosettes go with many other colors. Grown in bright sun, the foliage will take on a pink blush. Tall 12-inch flower stalks are produced throughout summer.
Molded Wax Agave
Size: 6 to 8 inches tall and 8 to 12 inches in diameter
Color: Pale apple-green foliage, pink flower stems and bracts, pink and yellow flowers
Also known as lipstick echeveria, the large rosettes, which are usually solitary, are reminiscent of agave. Bell-shaped flowers are borne on 12-inch stems during summer.
Size: 6 inches tall and 5 inches wide
Color: Pale blue-grey foliage, pale pinkish-grey flower stems and bracts, coral pink flowers
One of the most sought-after echeverias, this slow grower produces powdery blue-grey leaves which can take on a pink blush. Pale pink flower buds on short stems open to coral pink bell-shaped flowers that bloom from summer into fall. Plants are especially susceptible to root rot.
Size: 3 to 4 inches tall and 5 inches in diameter; clumps to 1 to 2 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.
Color: Pale blue-green and burgundy-red foliage, green flower stems and bracts, coral pink and yellow flowers
Named for its foliage that appears to be painted. Vigorous rosettes produce a profusion of offsets. Flowers appear on 2-foot stems in summer. Use in rock gardens or larger containers so plants have room to spread.
Size: 3 to 6 inches tall and 7 to 8 inches wide
Color: Pale lilac-blue foliage, grey flower stems and bracts, coral pink flowers
This slow grower produces a solitary rosette. Flowers emerge on shorter 6-inch stems in spring. Propagates readily from leaf cuttings.
Silver Spoons Echeveria
Size: 4 inches tall and 4 to 6 inches wide
Color: Blue-grey and pink foliage, grey flower stems and bracts, coral pink and orange flowers
This fast grower has elongated spoon-shaped leaves that can reach 3 inches long. Flowers appear on 8-inch stems from late summer into fall. ‘Topsy Turvy’ is a cultivar with deeply curved leaves.
Size: 3 inches tall and 5 to 6 inches wide
Color: Leaves are blue-green with dark red tips, reddish tan stems, pale green bracts, yellow flowers
Provides an eye-catching contrast in the landscape. Flowers appear in spring on graceful arching stems. Use this diminutive slow grower as a stand-alone accent or combined with other succulents.
'Perle von Nurnberg'
Size: 3 to 5 inches tall and 5 to 6 inches wide
Color: Grey-pink foliage, pale pink flower stems, grey-pink bracts, coral pink flowers
This classic hybrid produces a solitary rosette in variable shades of pink, red, purple, and blue-green. Flowers appear on 12-inch stems in summer. Slow to produce offsets, but propagates easily from leaf cuttings.
Size: 3 to 5 inches tall and 7 to 8 inches wide
Color: Purple-pink foliage, purplish stems and bracts, pink flowers
Foliage takes on a more subdued grey tone in lower light. Crinkled leaves are edged with hot pink. In late summer to early fall, the foliage color intensifies to a more vivid purple-pink.
Size: 6 to 8 inches tall and 7 to 8 inches wide
Color: Dark burgundy foliage, dark burgundy flower stems, lighter burgundy bracts, red flowers
Striking leaves intensify to nearly black with more sun exposure. Flowers appear in fall or early winter. Pair with other brightly colored succulents such as ‘Angelina’ sedum for dramatic contrast.
Size: 3 to 5 inches tall and 5 to 6 inches wide
Color: Pale green and pink foliage, pinkish-grey flower stems and bracts, orange-yellow flowers
Symmetrical rosettes have a waxy sheen that is reminiscent of pearls. Flowers appear on short stems in spring. Showcase in a decorative container and display on a tabletop.
The most common problems for echeveria are due to over- or underwatering. Here are some symptoms to look for:
- Yellow or dropped leaves can indicate overwatering or poor drainage. Reduce watering and make sure pots or beds have adequate drainage. Add perlite, gravel, or sand to the potting medium or beds to improve drainage
- Wilted or shriveled leaves can occur with underwatering. Increase the amount of water, making sure it drains through the bottom of the pot.
- Leggy plants or weak new growth can be an indication of too little light. Move plants to a brighter area. Indoor houseplants benefit from being placed outdoors when all danger of frost is past.
- Yellowing or whitening of leaves followed by brown scabs can indicate too much sun exposure, or that plants were introduced too quickly to brighter light. Move plants to a spot that receives less light.
- Discolored mushy leaves and stems can indicate overwatering and root rot. Remove plant from pot and inspect for rot damage. Cut off rotted sections and repot in fresh soil.
- Bottom leaves that occasionally become shriveled or turn black are a sign of age and not harmful to the plant. Remove these older leaves for a tidier look.
- Abnormal, twisted, or irregular growth can indicate cresting, which is a mutation that is not harmful to plants. The growth can be removed or allowed to develop.
Photo by: Janet Loughrey
- Plant a terrarium with echeveria and other drought-tolerant succulents. Add decorative touches such as colored rocks and miniature statuary.
- Create a floral arrangement in a pedestal pot with small echeveria rosettes in different colors. Add trailing succulents such as string of pearls or donkey’s tail for an eye-catching arrangement.
- Adorn a rock garden with echeverias and other drought-tolerant succulents and alpines. Before the first frost in fall, move echeverias indoors for the winter.
- Create a living wall adorned with echeverias and other succulents for a colorful tapestry to hang along a fence. (See an example in this backyard design).
- Add a focal point in a sunny part of the yard with a bowl-shaped container elevated on a pedestal. Plant with echeverias and other succulents for a low-maintenance season-long display.
HEN AND CHICKS: ECHEVERIA OR SEMPERVIVUM?
Both share the common name of hen and chicks and look very similar. Here's how to tell them apart:
Other echeveria lookalikes include:
- Mexican ghost plant (Graptopetalum) has thicker leaves in colors of pale gold or green. Mature size is smaller, with star-shaped flowers and offsets that break off from the roots.
- Graptoveria is a hybrid cross between Graptopetalum and Echeveria.
- Aeonium is native to northern Africa and nearby islands. The rosettes are flatter, forming on elongated stems that produces offshoots. Plants die after flowering.