Echeveria (ek-uh-VAIR-ee-uh) are popular rosette-shaped soft succulents with a remarkable pastel color palette. Some varieties can grow to the size of a dinner plate and their pearlescent tones make them stunning focal points for potted arrangements, rock gardens, favors, decor, and much more. The rich diversity of colors, shapes, and sizes of Echeveria make them great additions to any project.
- Colors: Echeveria show a wide variety of pastel pinks, purples, blues, and greens and can be two-toned or have contrasting leaf tips. The color of a single plant is variable, with more vibrant colors appearing when the plant receives more light.
- Form: These rosette-shaped plants send out new offsets on stolons (horizontal stems), and, if given space, the colony will spread outward from the mother plant.
- Foliage: Leaves can be velvety, fuzzy, smooth, or crinkly and are often coated with a powdery layer that gives them a soft, glaucous look. These thick, fleshy leaves store water and sustain the plant through periods of drought.
- Flowers: Each summer a rosette can send up a tall bloom stalk, from which dangle attractive bell-shaped flowers of yellow, orange, or pink. The full bloom cycle can last for several weeks and attract migrating butterflies.
- Light: Echeveria need a lot of light to thrive and show their best colors, so indoor plants need to be kept near a sunny window, sometimes with supplementary grow lights. Outdoor plantings can take full to partial sun; extra shade will protect them from scorching on hot afternoons in summer.
- Soil: Rapidly-draining, gritty soil is important for Echeveria, as they are accustomed to growing in small crevices in rocky outcroppings. They will not tolerate standing water, so choose a sandy soil like cactus/succulent potting mix. Soil amendments are not necessary, but gardeners can encourage faster growth by applying slow-release, low-Nitrogen fertilizer in spring.
- Water: Echeveria thrive on deep, infrequent watering with enough time between for the soil to fully dry. Water the soil directly (not the leaves) and be sure to use containers with drainage holes. Watering frequency can vary greatly, so look to the plant and soil for signs of needing more or less frequent water.
- Hardiness: Cold hardy down to 20F-30F (zone 9-10). They can tolerate light frost, but should not be kept at consistently below-freezing temperatures. Gardeners in all regions, however, can enjoy Echeveria year-round as indoor plants - just be sure they're given plenty of direct sunlight.
- Propagation: These tenacious plants can often regrow from cuttings of offsets, leaves, and stems. For mature, overgrown plants, you can use a clean, sharp knife to cut off the tighter rosette at the top. Let all cuttings dry in a shady spot for several days and replant in moist, well-draining soil.
Notes from the Nursery
Echeveria are among the most beautiful and popular of all succulents and require little maintenance to cultivate. If problems do arise, they’re often related to a lack of light or an excess of water. When growing indoors, keep Echeveria near sunny windows or under dedicated grow lights.
For water related problems, pay attention to the plant and the soil for signs of over- or underwatering. Insert a finger or popsicle stick into the soil to check that it is completely dry before watering and avoid letting droplets sit on the leaves if possible. A dry succulent is far easier to revive than one that has begun to rot, so err on the side of less frequent watering.
For more information on common Echeveria, check out Soft Succulents by Jeff Moore.