With over 150 species to choose from, Echeveria (often called Hens and Chicks) are among the most popular succulents, thanks to their delightful rosettes that can reach up to 2 to 6-inches across on short stems with striking water-storing leaves.
Hailing from parts of Central America, South America, and Mexico, Echeveria offer a variety of colors, sizes, and leaf shapes. Most can produce stunning bell-shaped flowers that will look beautiful in just about any living space. Just make sure to handle them with care, as they have leaves that easily break off. Whether you have a green thumb or not (especially if you are a busy office worker or a novice gardener), Echeveria are low-maintenance and can still survive after periods of neglect.
1. Light Exposure
These astounding plants are easily recognizable due to their compact rosette and plump, charming leaves, which may be flushed with red or pink color and may even seem to glow under the right lighting conditions. So if you want to have a beautiful Echeveria all year round, provide them with plenty of bright, indirect light.
If grown indoors, place your Echeveria where it can receive a lot of sunlight. Ideally, the best spot to display them is near a south or west-facing window, as these two spots often offer more light than north or east-facing windows. But if this isn’t an option, just put them near a window that gets the most light. You can also consider placing them under a desk or table lamp that is on throughout the day. This should prevent the plant from opening up its rosette and stretching out of form due to lack of light.
Echeverias can be grown outdoors as well, especially during the summer. Just make sure to avoid sudden changes in light exposure and the intense afternoon sun, as these can be too harsh for them, resulting in their leaves getting sunburned.
In general, Echeverias should get a minimum of 6 hours of bright light during Winter and at least 8 to 12 hours a day during Spring and Summer. This should help them keep their rosette compact, and at the same time, show their true leaf color.
Succulents tend to grow toward the light source. So to keep your Echeveria symmetrical, it is recommended to turn the pot at least once or twice a week. If your Echeveria begins to stretch, just continue growing it, then start fresh in the Spring by simply cutting the top and rooting it as a new rosette.
Watering Echeveria varies depending on the temperature and conditions of the plant's surroundings. To give you a rough guide, from Spring to Summer, keep the potting mix of your Echeveria slightly moist, which can be achieved by giving them a deep and regular watering, allowing the soil to get almost dry in between.
From late Fall to Winter, on the other hand, Echeverias shouldn't be kept soaking wet for too long, so water them less sparingly and let their soil dry out completely before giving them another drink.
Ideally, Echeverias can be watered once every week to ten days. However, this still depends on the size of your plant and pot, so it's advisable to always check the soil first before watering to make sure. You can always use a moisture meter or your finger to feel the level of dryness of the plant's soil.
Keep in mind that poor watering habits are the top reason you'll encounter problems with this plant, so make sure to keep an eye on them and make adjustments whenever it's necessary.
Most Echeverias are non-hardy succulents and can’t survive cold temperatures. They prefer temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t like it when it drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
For that reason, these tender succulent can be grown worry-free outdoors in USDA zone 9 and zone 10. In other zones, we highly recommend growing your Echeveria as a houseplant, especially during the cold months, and just gradually move them outdoors once the threat of frost has passed.
Just like with all other succulents, Echeverias also need well-drained soil that dries out quickly to help prevent moisture from rotting the roots. You can either use a quality potting mix intended for Cactus and Succulents or create your own blend of soil and perlite.
Echeveria rarely needs to be fertilized. But if you want to give them some occasional feeding, do this at the beginning of spring by using a slow-release fertilizer or a water-soluble mixed about half strength and used less often than recommended.
Potting and Repotting
Getting the right pot for your Echeveria is also a crucial part of taking care of them. Remember, the bigger pots contain greater soil volume. Meaning, it would hold more moisture compared to smaller ones, risking your Echeveria plant of root rot.
Ideally, the size of your pot should be 5 to 10% bigger than the size of your Echeveria at the surface. So if you have an Echeveria that's 4-inches wide, the best pot for it will be the one that's around 4.5-inches in diameter or just a bit bigger than your plant's rosette.
For the type of pot, the most recommended for Echeveria is Terracotta ones with ample drainage. They have porous walls that will allow excess moisture to escape, preventing the plant to sit in wet soil for too long. Furthermore, the unglazed interior of Terracotta pots will give the roots of your Echeveria something to cling to.
When repotting your Echeveria, make sure that you do so right before its growing season, so the succulent has time to adjust to its new home. Also, make sure your new pot is at least 10% larger than your previous pot so it has room to grow. When repotting, always check for signs of root rot or matted roots. Prune away any rotting or damaged roots if you have to!
There are many ways to propagate Echeveria, but the simplest one is through leaf propagation. To do this, you will either need to collect leaves that have just fallen from your plant or snip a leaf off its rosette by gently moving it from side to side until it detaches.
Once you have the leaves to propagate, lay them on a tray away from direct sunlight. After a few weeks, a plantlet with roots will appear at the end of the leaves. At this point, you can stick their roots in the soil and give them a mist every few days. Eventually, the original leaves should dry up, leaving the newly formed ones behind.
Although they’re most well-known for their shape, Echeveria succulents have beautiful, bell-shaped flowers that bloom for about two weeks during the growing season. These flowers are often pink or orange and contrast the cool tones of the leaves perfectly. To encourage your succulents to bloom, place them under bright sunlight and in warm temperatures. If you can mimic their natural environment, you’re good! Echeveria blooms are a good sign-- you don’t need to worry if you see one sprouting out of your plant. If you don’t want your Echeveria to bloom, simply trim the flower stem off at its base with a pair of clean, sharp scissors.
The best part about Echeveria (aside from their hardiness and versatility) is that they’re great for homes with pets! Echeveria aren’t toxic to cats, dogs, horses, livestock, or humans, making them an ideal starter succulent for anyone who wants to add some green into their furry household. Just because they aren’t toxic, however, doesn’t mean they want to be eaten! It’s always best to keep your succulents out of reach from nosy animals to ensure they stay happy and healthy.
Common Pests and Problems
Just like any other succulent, Echeveria are susceptible to your standard fare of pests and potential illnesses, including mealybugs, spider mites, root rot, aphids, scale, and mold. However, these plants are especially susceptible to mold growth and root rot if watered improperly. Always make sure to water your Echeveria with a water bottle or through bottom watering, and avoid getting the leaves wet just to be safe.
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