Echeveria are very popular succulents that grow in attractive rosettes with beautiful leaves in a variety of colors and sometimes stunning flowers. These plants have been extensively hybridized, so in addition to the main species there are many varieties that have been specially bred for interesting leaf form and color. Most Echeveria will remain fairly small (a few inches to a foot across), but some species will grow to small shrub-like plants of 2 feet. Members of the Crassulaceae family, their care is similar to sedum and kalanchoe succulents.
Light: Full sun. Perfect for a sunny window.
Water: Water during the summer and spring, making sure drainage is immaculate. Reduce water in the winter to monthly.
Temperature: Prefers average summer temps (65ºF - 70ºF). In winter, cool to 50ºF.
Soil: A well-drained succulent mix, with an ideal pH around 6.0 (slightly acidic).
Fertilizer: Feed with a controlled-release fertilizer in the beginning of the season or weekly with a weak liquid solution. Use a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer at 1/4 strength on mature plants, and a fertilizer with less nitrogen on young plants.
Most Echeveria can be easily propagated from leaf cuttings, although a few are better from seeds or stem cuttings. To propagate a leaf cutting, place the individual leaf in a succulent or cacti mix and cover the dish until the new plant sprouts.
Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot a succulent, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.
There are many popular Echeveria, both species and hybrids. In nature, Echeveria are native to Mexico, the United States, and down into South America. Some of the more beautiful Echeveria include the blue Echeveria (E. glauca and E. laui), firecracker plant (E. setosa), painted lady (E. derenbergii), and E. agavoides.
Most of the common Echeveria species are not complicated succulents to grow, provided you follow a few basic rules. First, be careful never to let water sit in the rosette as it can cause rot or fungal diseases that will kill the plant. Additionally, remove dead leaves from the bottom of the plant as it grows. These dead leaves provide a haven for pests, and Echeveria are susceptible to mealy bugs. As with all succulents, careful watering habits and plenty of light will help ensure success.
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