Echeveria, a succulent with unique leafage


Echeveria is a succulent plant with surprising evergreen leafage.

Key Echeveria facts

Typesucculent plant, perennial
Height – 8 inches (20 cm) with flower

Exposure – well-lit
Soil – light, well-drained
Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – summer

The care it calls for is minimal, but these simple practices will make it look even nicer.

Planting echeveria indoors or outdoors?

This plant is suited to mild climates, and should preferably be cultivated indoors if you fear frost. Indeed, the slightest frost would terminate it.

Planting and repotting your indoor Echeveria

Beautiful arrangement of tiny Echeveria plants growing in a terra cotta potIt’s a great idea to grow Echeveria indoors: it doesn’t need much care and keeps unfurling leaves at a regular and satisfying rhythm.

  • You may repot your echeveria just after purchasing it if you’ve purchased it while it wasn’t flowering.
  • After that, an annual repotting in spring with soil mix amended with sand will surely extend the lifespan of your echeveria.

Planting Echeveria outdoors

  • Echeveria runyonii variety growing outdoors in pozzolana mulchEcheveria can only survive outdoors in winter in the southernmost regions.
  • If planting outside, prefer full sun exposure.
  • Select a location that drains very well: too much water will kill the plant.
  • Don’t water, normal precipitations should be enough to cover the needs of your outdoor echeveria.
  • A beautiful mulch that highlights these outworldish plants is pozzolana (shown right above).

Propagating echeveria

Echeveria produces small suckers at the base of stems, and these can be replanted and take root easily.

  • Carefully detach a small rosette from the stem.
  • Then, fill a small nursery pot with adequate substrate (soil mix, sand and compost).
  • Mark a hole with your fingers.
  • Delicately place the rosette.
  • Finally, press the soil down around the buried stem of the small rosette.

Caring for echeveria

Although caring for echeveria is relatively straightforward, a few tips will help you grow a very nice, long-living plant:

  • Remove wilted flowers regularly (deadheading).
    This step isn’t mandatory but it will help stimulate the plant to produce new flowers.
  • Re-potting in spring in a pot that is slightly larger than the previous will extend the lifespan of your echeveria.
  • Adding a flower plant fertilizer will help extend the blooming and increase its beauty.

The lifespan of an Echeveria plant can range anywhere from 3 years to several decades depending on the variety, care, and growing conditions.

Make sure you always have a few leaf props going from your favorite variety if ever it unexpectedly dries up or mushes out!

Beheading an elongated, leggy echeveria

When an echeveria doesn’t get enough light, it starts growing tall. Leaves are sparse around a long, thin stem. This means the plant is reaching for light.

The only way forward is to ensure the plant has enough light, and then behead the Echeveria to give it a fresh start.

  • Move the plant to where it has more light.
  • Eventually, purchase supplemental lighting (grow lights) for succulents.

Once the problem of your echeveria lacking light is solved, you can behead the succulent:

  • Cut the Echeveria stem just below the head (about ½ inch or 1½ cm from the head) with a sharp, clean knife or razor.
  • Cure or dry the cut Echeveria head in the air for at least 8 hours up to 3 days.
  • Place the head in a new pot with fresh soil mix (equal parts soil mix, compost and sand).
  • New roots will start sprouting from the cut mark within three weeks to one month.

You can use the leaves from the remaining stem to prepare cuttings, as a form of leaf propagation. The slang for this is called “leaf props“.

Watering echeveria indoors

  • Pink flowers arising from an echeveria plant, watered recentlyDuring the blooming, 1 to 2 waterings a week, only when the soil has dried well.
  • Apart from the blooming season, 1 to 2 waterings a fortnight.
  • In winter, light watering 1 time a month is largely enough.

In any case, it is important to wait for the soil to have dried well before watering, in which case it is also better to water once rarely with a significant amount instead of many moderate sessions.

BE CAREFUL! Leaves from succulents are loaded with water. If they start collapsing, it’s a sign that they need more water.

All there is to know about echeveria

Purple-blue Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg' plantNative to Mexico, echeveria is a very beautiful succulent with particularly appealing leaves.

With its reduced need for care, it poses practically no difficulty to the caretaker.

Although excess water is what most often kills it, it also likes having alot of light, but not scorching direct sun, as when behind a window. This would cause echeveria sunburn.

You can set it in a pot or a garden box, along edges or on rocky ground.

Special tip about Echeveria

Amending the soil with organic fertilizer will favor blooming, so you must take care not to provoke this during the Echeveria’s dormant state, from October to February.

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Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY 4.0: Kim & Forest Starr
CC BY-SA 2.0: salchu