Most times, gardening fanatics find it hard to differentiate between the Echeveria, Sempervivum and Aeonium succulents, since they belong to the same family Crassulaceae. While they share many similarities in terms of color and shape, there are some basic pointers that help you figure out what genus they are.
COMMON NAME: HEN & CHICKS.
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Native to North, Mexico, and South America, these succulents grow well in desert conditions but can also tolerate some moisture, as long as you don’t water them until the soil is well-drained.
Types of Echeveria Succulents | Click here to purchase
Echeveria are polycarpic plant, meaning they bloom every year. In the spring or early summer, growers can spot their flowers stemming from chubby-leaved rosettes. These stems are long, slim and are topped by bell-shaped blooms. The flowers’ colors ranges from pink, peach to orange, sometimes can be white or yellow.
<Left: wordofsucculents.com and Right: Instagram @echielady>
COMMON NAME: HEN & CHICKS HOUSELEEK
If you are looking for a cold-hardy, colorful succulent, Sempervivum might be your best bet. Mostly found in Europe, this succulent develops an incredible resistance to frosty weather. Sempervivum can survive well in zone as cold as −40 °C.
Sempervivum has some distinctive traits on the leaves that allow growers to identify its genus. Unlike Echeveria, Sempervivum has narrower and pointy leaves. The edges are covered with tiny sharp teeth. Sometimes, these teeth can only be seen through a magnifying glass due to their small size.
<Left: rhs.org.uk and Right: plantlust.com>
Sempervivum has a different blooming habit compared to Echeveria. As a monocarpic plant, it only bloom once in a lifetime. Once the flower withers, the plant also die. Hence, many growers try to prevent their succulent’s death by cutting off the blooming stalk as soon as possible. However, this does not always guarantee success since it is difficult to spot Sempervivum blooming signs and time period.
Another noticeable trait is the star shape of Sempervivum’s flowers and the fact that they stem from the center of the rosette, not between the leaves.
<Left: Instagram @miss_ephelia and Right: Instagram @echielady>
COMMON NAME: TREE HOUSELEEK
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Without a doubt, Aeonium is another gorgeous and striking additions to succulents. Commonly known as Tree Houseleek, most Aeonium species are native to Atlantic Islands and a small number can be found in Morocco or east Africa.
The most obvious difference between Aeonium and the other two can be spotted by looking at the rosette. Among the three, Aeonium has flattest leaves. They also have a spoon-shaped leaves but not as rounded as Echeveria. For most Aeonium genus, their leaf margin has a range of tiny teeth that is hardly visible.
<Left:Succulentsbox.com and Right: Instagram @thosearesucculent>
Aeonium and Sempervivum have pretty similar flower shape and blooming pattern. They have the same star-shaped flower head and bloom once after many years. Luckily, both Sempervivum and Aeonium produce many tiny offsets before flowering so there will always be new plants to replace the dying one.
<Left: En.wikipedia.org and Right: Instagram @thosearesucculent>
Now that you have learnt the visual differences between the three succulents, it is time to pick out our favourite.
Check out this quick video to identify 13 most common types of succulents:
See more about How to identify succulents II: Agave, Aloe, Gasteria and Haworthia.
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How to identify succulents III: Cactus, Senecio, Crassula, Sedum, Kalanchoe and Cotyledon.
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