🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Echeverias - Nature's wonders


My Echeverias are really enjoying the winter sunshine and less watering and have produced some gorgeous little flowers. 

Echeveria is a large genus of succulents in the Crassulaceae family, native from Mexico to North-western South America. Many of the species produce numerous offsets, and are commonly known as 'Hen and chicks', which can also refer to other genera such as Sempervivum that are significantly different from Echeveria. Sempervivums cannot tolerate the heat that Echeverias can, so mine grow primarily in pots on my patio or in the house.

Some Echeveria elegans in a pot 

Some Echeverias can mimic Sempervivums very closely so I understand the confusion this causes.  But when in doubt about what genus one has in one's collection, all doubts will vanish as soon as the plant flowers since the two genera have very different flowers. Echeveria flowers are not fuzzy, are often arching and the flowers themselves are quite succulent and bell-shaped. Sempervivum flowers are non-succulent and usually pink with thin, narrow, aster-like petals often on oversized inflorescences.  And if still not convinced, one only need wait for flowering to end, as most Echeverias flower yearly while Sempervivums are monocarpic (die after flowering).

Part of my Echeveria collection 

Many Echeveria species are popular as garden plants. They are drought-resistant, although they do better with regular deep watering and fertilizing. Although they tolerate winter quite well, the winter frost here in Tarlton is quite severe and often I take them out of the garden, putting them into pots and bringing them into the house, especially those that have got long stems and are not compact and dense any more.

Another section of the garden with a couple of Echeverias 

Echeverias need bright light, heavy soil and excellent drainage. When grown in soil-less mixes, they grow large and lush and lose their colour and character. Many of the plants have a waxy sheen on their leaves. When they are watered over the top, the water collects in drops and spots the leaves when it dries. These spots are especially noticeable when the water is high in minerals. Drench and let dry. Water from below.

My Echeverias in full flower 

These lovely plants are moderately fast growers. If your plant begins to show more and more space between the leaves, it is stretching and needs more light to help it keep a compact rosette shape.

The lovely pink edges on Echeveria glauca - this one is growing in the shade and the space between the leaves shows it is reaching for more light. 

In general these are inexpensive easy plants, popular mostly because of their ornamental flower-shaped, thick-leaved succulent rosettes and wonderful colours and textures... but their low cost certainly helps, too. Most Echeverias are suckering plants, eventually forming small (or large) colonies of closely growing plants. My original collection started with a few Echeverias given to me by my father in the late 80's. This suckering/offsetting behaviour makes them particularly ornamental pot plants as, in time, most will offset enough to completely fill a pot, often spilling over the edges and making living bouquets of succulent rosettes.

Echeverias hanging over pot 

 Echeveria glauca in flower

Two Echeverias in a pot in the garden 

Camera : Kodak EasyShare C195 
Location : My garden, Tarlton, South Africa. 



  1. What gorgeous and healthy plants! And I thank you, Maree, for all that great information.

    1. Thanks Kathryn, they are my babies! glad you liked the info.

  2. So lovely! Wonderful info, thanks Maree!

    1. Thank you Elizabeth, glad you also enjoyed it!

  3. Echeverias - one of my favourites. How great to be able to have them outdoors. My large one, in a cold greenhouse, died last winter.

    1. Oh no John! that's terrible! You should have taken it inside...

      This winter seems to be especially cold - my Echeverias, the ones outside, are already looking decidedly sorry for themselves. I could actually move to a desert and just have a cactus and succulent garden...

  4. Hi Maree,

    i just bought a Echeverias, last month and i don't think its doing well but i'm not sure. i've never owned a plant before so i thought i would start with this one.

    The bottom leaves are drying and turning pink from its green color. The leaves on the stem are dry too. but i get new growth in the flowers. i have been watering the plant once a week. but maybe i'm over watering.

    Anyway can you figure out whats wrong? Or can you please recommend a website i can refer to, to find out if i can save my plant please. i'm worried.

    Thank you


    1. Hi Pascale, congratulations with your acquisition!

      Without seeing your Echeveria I can't say much, but the pink on the tips is quite normal and a sign of a true Echeveria! The dead leaves at the bottom of the flower on the stem are also quite normal and are to be left on the stalk as it is the flower's normal protection against winter. And the fact that it is flowering is a very good sign indeed, so I don't think you have much to worry about. Watering once a week is fine, but if it is in full sun and in a pot, twice a week would be better.

      The only real sign of an unhappy Echeveria is if the leaves start going limp or start 'opening up' too much or it shrinks a lot.

      Hope I was of some help, but you can Google 'Echeveria elegans' and will be sure to find many websites that can tell you more about this lovely plant.

      Thanks for stopping by and I wish you many years with your Echeveria!

  5. I just got my first echeveria and it's a few days old in its new pot. It's starting to go a little limp on the bottom rows of leaves. What can I do to prevent this?

    1. Hi Amy, It probably isn't overwatering, as most Echeverias like water, but the pot must have good draining, otherwise it could rot. However, ALL Echeverias lose their leaves from the bottom as they grow (see the question and answer above). Just keep a close eye on it and if those bottom leaves start drying up and dying off, that's quite normal.



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