Echeverias. They are like never fading roses that never fail to amuse me with the variety of shapes, sizes, and color. After all the rain this winter, I decided to go to my yard and check to see which ones are still alive or hiding. Echeverias don’t take a lot of space so it’s easy to collect quite a few even in a relatively small garden like mine. Here were the ones I found.
Echeverias are generally easy care succulents. They don’t require a lot of water nor space. Water when the soil is dry. Make sure they are not in extreme heat. Do not allow them to get soggy, so good drainage is key. Roots are shallow and they can be easy to propagate/reproduce and some spread on their own. Sometimes they fall prey to mealybugs (which are easily deterred by homemade spray or rubbing alcohol…soap, hot sauce, and water I find works well) but generally not many other pests will bug these plants. I’ve had some lizards nibble on the very leafy ones, but that generally doesn’t bug the plant too much! I find that some species are more challenging than others. In my humble garden, I prefer the ones with the intense red or purple hues, and the huge bumps. These bumps often don’t show until the succulent is more mature, and are prized. The most common ones are perhaps the green or blue ones that do best in partial shade and spread easily. However in my garden those were the first to go as temperatures in my garden reach 90-100 degrees easily in the summer and shade is a commodity. So the ones that survived are the ones pictured here. I have taken these photos after a light overnight rain so that the droplets enhance some of the images. These red echeverias seem to get more intense in color with extremes in temperature and it is always quite a joy to observe them in colder or warmer temperatures.
Echeveria Afterglow makes a spectacular statement in succulent gardens especially in mass plantings that can bring in hues of purple mixed in with various opposite colors, such as a yellow sedum or blue senecios. I planted a succulent rainbow a few years back that I punctuated with E. Afterglow. I’ll include that in a later post.
These two are examples of how the varieties can be so very similar but different. Lola is a hybrid of the Lilacina on the right (at least that’s what the plant label indicated). Both are extremely sun sensitive so I hide them behind some of my taller plants. They are great in shabby chic containers and decor.
This is actually a baby plant that grew off the mother plant awhile ago, and once I removed the baby, I forgot which one exactly was the mother plant, so I’m thinking it looks like Echeveria Dorothy but one never exactly knows until it’s fully grown and growing conditions can vary the appearance.
The lighter color ones do best in dappled shade. The colors of Violet Queen become more intense in extreme temperatures, but in the hot sun, they will be toasted to death. Here you can see them hiding behind some of my overgrown pelargoniums and kalanchoes.
Echeveria culibra is a rare species that I was lucky to find and purchase at a plant show. Its leaves have a tendency to curl, forming its ‘snake’ like appearance. You can hardly tell with the baby next to it, but it all takes time and the right temperature conditions.
Echeveria decora is also one that is sensitive to sun, so I have it hidden under my tree. In fact I forgot I even had this until I went looking for it as it was hidden under other foliage.
Nature has a sense of humor sometimes…here it seems this echeveria was painted with lipstick for a great show!
The 2 above photos show the most reliable way of propagation for these bigger echeverias. I get babies growing from the mother echeveria on stalks and when they are big enough, I cut, let it sit awhile and plant. Super easy.
Here’s an example of the flower stalks…irresistible to hummingbirds and long lasting (they last about a month at times). One can propagate these plants by taking the microscopic seeds from them and planting them but I haven’t been successful in that method. Another way of propagation is by taking the leaves of some of the smaller echeverias and putting the ends of them in soil under some shade. I don’t have any currently doing that in the winter, but I might do an update in the spring when that becomes more successful. But the leaf propagation method does not work in the bigger echeverias. The bigger echeverias (greater than 6 or so inches), besides sending babies on their stalks, can benefit from a beheading once in a few years, where I would carefully cut off the echeveria from its stem (that has grown too long). After I let it sit for awhile (a few days to weeks) without watering, roots start forming along the cut, at which point I plant.
My limited understanding of these marvelous plants came from years of informal experimenting in my backyard. So I’m sure there are better ways of taking care of these plants and I know I’ve forgotten to include some details. This was (and still is) my hobby and luckily my family and friends knew what to get me for presents, so I ended up with a good collection. Unfortunately some species did not survive, but I might venture to try those again at a different time. I also traded species with fellow friends, and purchased them from plant shows and garage sales. Since I love echeverias so much I can probably go on for awhile longer, but I might expand on some details in a later post. I read a few books here and there and also asked many friends, nursery owners, and show vendors about the details. Hopefully most of those details are here, and if not, please feel free to comment below.
Thanks for sharing my passion of echeverias with me and reading through this long post!