Echeverias are a group of flowering plants in the Crassulaceae family. There are about 85 different species, with most being native to Mexico and Central America. They come in all shapes and sizes, from miniature rosettes (Tricolor Echeveria) that grow only an inch tall or wide to large succulent shrubs (Echeveria Setosa) that can reach eight feet in height.
Echeverias are commonly called “Mexican snowball” or “Hens & Chicks,” and they can grow in a variety of colors. They do well with succulents because these plants thrive on neglect and don’t need much attention from their owners to survive.
Echeverias should be planted in potting soil that drains well and is fast-draining. They do not like to sit in water for long periods of time, so you will need to empty the pots out after watering them, or else they may develop root rot and die.
They are herbaceous perennial plants meaning they grow from a bulb and will die back during cold winters. They are an easy plant to grow, but they do need good care; don’t let them dry out too much or get overwatered.
Origin of the echeverias
Echeverias are native to Mexico and Central America. They were first discovered by the botanist Charles Louis Lucien Bonaparte in 1838 while he was describing a new species of agave from Brazil, which had been sent to France for study.
The genus name is derived from the Mexican botanical explorer Sebastián Echeverría y Godoy.
Echeverias come in many different colors and shapes, with some being more popular than others – such as the rose echeveria variety. The most common types of this plant are green-leafed varieties or solid color plants, but there are also other variations including variegated (multi-colored) leaves.
Echeverias are popular houseplants because they can be grown in the ground, being drought tolerant and low maintenance plants. They’re also used as cut flowers or planted outside on patios or terraces for their beautiful colors.
What’s popular about echeverias is their variation in colors and shapes, as well as the fact that they can be grown both inside or out. These plants are drought tolerant and require very little maintenance; therefore, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular among homeowners. At times of the year when there aren’t many flowers blooming, echeverias make a great replacement.
Echeverias are one of the easiest plants to propagate. They can be propagated by division, cuttings, or seed. The division is usually done in early spring before new growth starts as this helps to prevent shock and encourages more root development – though it will take a little while for your plant’s leaf cover to fill back in with new foliage.
Divide the plant by pulling one of its parts away from it or gently cutting a section off with sharp, clean shears. Remove any dead leaves and trim back new growth points to encourage strong root development where you cut off your stem. Pot this part in a fresh potting medium right away (or remove all old roots if you’re dividing the plant), and water it from above.
Cuttings can be taken any time of year, but are most easily done in spring or summer when new growth is emerging – though you’ll need to have an adult do this for you. Cut a section off with clean shears that have at least one leaf on each side and one or two leaf nodes.
Use a rooting hormone, if desired (though it’s not necessary).
Dip the cut end of your cutting in some water and place that on top of a potting medium that is moist but not wet – this will allow for air to get to the roots as they grow down into the soil. Be sure to keep the medium damp but not wet as you wait for your plant to develop roots.
Seed propagation can be done any time of the year, and is easy if you take care in gathering seeds from healthy plants! Collect mature seed pods that have turned dark brown or black – these will usually split open when they dry out. Remove the seeds from inside these pods and plant them in seed starting mix with a little water.
Water your seeds from above until they’re good and wet, then cover the potting medium with plastic wrap or another clear covering to keep moisture in while you wait for germination, which can take up to two weeks depending on the temperature of where you planted them. Be sure not to over-water, as this can cause the seeds to rot.
General echeverias care information
Echeverias need bright light, including morning sun and filtered afternoon shade; indirect sunlight will do if the plant doesn’t get enough direct sun.
Echeverias require high light levels. Ideally, they should be planted in a sunny location with six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. If this is not possible, supplemental lighting may help the plant thrive. This can be achieved by purchasing grow lights that emit wavelengths between 4000 and 7000 nanometers (nm).
If the plant is kept in low light for a long period of time, it will slowly become more susceptible to diseases and pests. It is best to repot and transplant the plant into a sunny location as soon as possible.
In addition, an echeveria that has been grown in low light conditions will require more frequent watering than one that was planted in high-light conditions. This is because plants use water to produce energy from photosynthesis; they need more water to compensate for the lower light levels.
Echeverias thrive in soil that is well-draining and has a lot of organic matter. The planting medium (a good potting mix for an echeveria) should be composed of 50% sand, 30% potting mix (with peat moss as the base ingredient), 20% compost or manure, and small amounts of any other amendments such as perlite.
The plant should not dry out too quickly during the winter months because it will need to go through a period of dormancy in order to survive this colder season. In temperate climates that experience both hot and cold seasons, it is best to plant the echeveria outside in the summer and bring it inside during winter.
Echeverias should be fertilized on a regular basis. The frequency of fertilizer application will depend largely on the plant’s light requirements, water availability, and soil type. Plants that receive ample sunlight with frequent watering may only need to be fertilized once every three weeks; plants grown in low-light conditions might need to be fertilized twice a month.
Generally, a plant that is receiving adequate water and light should be fertilized with an all-purpose fertilizer once every three weeks; plants who receive less sunlight or are grown in low-light conditions will require more frequent applications of the appropriate type of fertilizer (e.g., echeverias planted in high-humidity environments might need to be fertilized with a fertilizer that contains significant iron).
It is also best to use organic fertilizers, which are richer in micronutrients and free of harmful chemicals. These include manure, composted cow or horse dung (canned), bone meal, cottonseed meal, fish emulsion, or seaweed extract.
It is recommended to water echeverias regularly. However, the frequency of watering will depend on a few factors such as light requirements and soil type.
For example, plants that are receiving high levels of sunlight (and are therefore photosynthesizing more) might only need to be watered once every three weeks; those who receive less light or are grown in low-light conditions might need to be watered twice a month.
Echeverias should not dry out completely, but they also shouldn’t remain soggy for long periods of time because this can lead to root rot and stem rots. The best way to gauge the plant’s watering needs is by its weight. If the pot feels heavy, it is time to water.
Echeverias should be watered until a little bit of runoff begins; then drip dry in between watering. It is best not to let them sit and soak for too long because this will encourage root rot or mold growth on the leaves.
Echeverias are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures, but if the plant will be living in an area with consistently low temperatures during winter, it is best to provide your echeveria with some form of insulation.
For example, you could place a sheet or blanket over the pot and leave about two inches between the pot and the material, which should be enough to keep cold air from completely covering the plant.
In winter climates where it doesn’t get too cold but does experience significant changes in temperature throughout the day (such as those located along coastal regions), you might want to place your echeveria outdoors during warmer months and bring indoors when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Echeverias are a water-loving plant and should be watered plentifully. They require humidity of 60% or more to prosper, so it is best to place them near the air conditioner if you have one in your home or misting their leaves once per day.
Echeverias thrive on fresh soil and are often repotted every year. There is no need to wait for the potting mix in an echeveria dish or tray to dry out, as they can go right into a new container with moist media as long as it has good drainage.
There are many different materials used for echeveria pots, and they are all available in different sizes. There is no rule as to what kind of pot should be used for which size plant. However, it’s important that the pot has good drainage so water does not stay around the roots or rot them.
The best time to repot an Echeveria is in the spring when they are actively growing.
Prune spent flowers and stems that have turned brown. Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut back the plant by at least one-third its height, removing branches as neatly as possible without pinching or cutting off new growth. This will promote new leaf production on the remaining stem which in turn can produce more flowers for your enjoyment!
Echeverias are slow growers, they grow from a basal rosette and have no true stem.
When echeverias are slowly grown they will get very tall, thin stems that can potentially break off of the plant if there is too much weight on them or when it rains.
Echeveria flowers produce pollen, but it is not toxic.
Pests and diseases
As echeverias do not have a large root system in the ground or potting media, they can easily become waterlogged and that makes it more difficult for them to recover from pests or disease problems.
10 common types of echeverias
‘Perle Von Nurnberg’ (Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’)
One of the most popular Echeverias, ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ is a succulent plant that loves bright light and thrives in well-draining soil. It’s an excellent choice for containers or as a ground cover because it forms small plants quickly, spreading out from its growing point.
Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ does well in hot and humid climates, but will need to be watered more often. Water thoroughly when the plant is dry, then allow it to drain before watering again.
Painted Echeveria (Echeveria nodulosa)
One of the more colorful Echeverias, Painted Echeveria (Echeveria nodulosa) is native to Mexico. With ovate leaves that grow up to 12 inches in length and are covered with a dense coating of hairs, this plant prefers bright light, perhaps even direct sunlight. It grows best when watered every few days.
Painted Echeveria (Echeveria nodulosa) is a perennial that typically blooms at the end of summer and fall, with flowers that are pink in color. The foliage often turns red or purple during cold weather months, a possible reason for its other common name: Mexican heather plant.
Black Hens and Chicks (Echeveria ‘Black Prince’)
Another type of echeverias is the Echeveria ‘Black Prince’, a very popular plant for beginners because it’s so easy to take care of. This succulent prefers bright light and will need occasional watering if the soil is not moist enough.
The Echeveria ‘Black Prince’, also known as Black Hens and Chicks, takes its name from its ovate, pearlescent leaves that are black in color and grow up to 12 inches long. This plant will produce offsets (chicks) if left alone but only when it reaches a mature size, usually two or three years old.
‘Topsy Turvy’ (Echeveria runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’)
Echeveria runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’ is one of the more unusual-looking succulents. The leaves are bright lime green with white tips and grow up to 12 inches long, sprawling out in every direction (hence the name). It can withstand dry conditions but does equally well when watered regularly.
This succulent has a trailing growth habit that makes it perfect for hanging baskets, window boxes, and other containers.
‘Dusty Rose’ (Echeveria ‘Dusty Rose’)
Echeveria ‘Dusty Rose’ is a succulent that prefers bright light but can also do well in partial shade. A native of the Canary Islands, this plant does best when watered regularly (but not too often) and likes well-drained soil.
The Echeveria ‘Dusty Rose’, sometimes referred to as ‘Red’, is a rosette-type plant and will need to be propagated by taking offsets.
Echeveria ‘Dusty Rose’ has dark green, ovate leaves that are covered in hairs with long white or pinkish tips. The flowers it produces have an almost velvety texture when they bloom in late winter to late spring.
Mexican Snowball “Hens and Chicks” (Echeveria elegans)
One of the most unusual-looking Echeverias, Mexican Snowball (Echeveria elegans) is a succulent with trailing stems that can grow up to 12 inches long. The leaves are an olive green color and covered in fuzzy hairs on both sides, a perfect defense against sunburn!
Mexican Snowball (Echeveria elegans) is native to Mexico and does best when watered every few days. It prefers bright light but will do just fine in partial shade as long as it’s not too wet, dry, or hot.
The Mexican Snowball produces offsets off the main plant, hence its nickname: Hens and Chicks.
This succulent produces small, white flowers that are quite delicate in appearance when they bloom during late winter to early spring.
Echeveria elegans is a fast-growing plant and will need to be propagated by taking offsets so it doesn’t get too crowded, especially in containers.
Woolly Rose (Echeveria ‘Doris Taylor’)
Echeveria ‘Doris Taylor’ is a succulent that prefers bright light and will need to be watered every few days if not in well-drained soil.
The Echeveria ‘Doris Taylor’, sometimes known as Woolly Rose, has leaves that are covered in dark green fuzz, hence the name! The flowers that it produces are small and white.
This succulent is native to the Caribbean and Mexico where conditions for growing this plant are ideal: bright light with a little shade, well-drained soil with occasional watering when necessary.
Echeveria ‘Doris Taylor’ will grow best in containers but can be grown outdoors if protected from frost.
They will produce offsets if left alone but only when it reaches a mature size, usually two or three years old.
‘Neon Breakers’ (Echeveria ‘Neon Breakers’)
The Echeveria ‘Neon Breakers’ is a succulent with deep green, elongated leaves that are covered in hairs on both sides. This plant will produce offsets (chicks) if left alone but only when it reaches mature size.
This slow-growing plant does best in dry conditions but can also do well when watered regularly.
The flowers that it produces are small and white with a pinkish tinge to the petals, which bloom in late winter to early spring if given bright light.
This succulent is native of Mexico where it does best when grown outdoors or in containers under protection from frost during winter months.
‘Tippy’ (Echeveria ‘Tippy’)
Echeveria ‘Tippy’ is another rosette-type succulent that does best when watered every few days.
The ‘Tippy’ (Echeveria ‘Tippy’) is native to Mexico and does best when grown outdoors or in containers under protection from frost during the winter months. This plant will produce offsets if left alone but only when it reaches a mature size.
Echeveria ‘Tippy’ prefers bright light but can also do well in partial shade as long as it’s not too wet, dry, or hot, but will need to be watered daily during the heat of summer when grown outdoors.
Ghost Echeveria (Echeveria lilacina)
The Ghost Echeveria (Echeveria lilacina) is a dwarf succulent that does best when watered every few days.
The leaves are an olive green color and are covered in fuzzy hairs on both sides.
The Ghost Echeveria (E. lilacina) prefers bright light but can also do well in partial shade if it’s not too wet, dry, or hot, as long as it is watered daily during the summer months when grown outdoors.