An Echeveria is a succulent plant in the Crassulaceae family and is a close relative of the jade plant. Echeveria plants originated in the desert areas of Texas, Mexico, Central and South America. Many varieties are referred to by the common name “Hen and Chicks.” The plant got this nickname because baby plants (offsets or plantlets) grow in a cluster around the base of the “Mother” plant. Echeveria plants are very popular as outdoor plants because they are drought resistant, and some can survive temperatures below 40°F (4.4°C) for a short period of time. Indoors, an echeveria plant, when placed in very bright light, rewards you with jewel- colored leaves and, in the spring and summer, clusters of flowers. This is an easy-care plant if you have a bright spot in your home and are careful not to over water.
Echeveria Plant Description
The plump, succulent leaves of an echeveria grow in a rosette and are usually pointed with smooth edges, though there are some varieties with a different leaf shape. A powdery wax called farina covers the leaves and protects them from getting burned when the plant is placed in direct sun. The most common echeveria plants have grayish-green or bluish-gray leaves. When placed in very bright light, the 1″-3″ long leaves can turn purple, dark purple, lavender, maroon, white with red edges, green with red edges, or pinkish lavender with pink edges. The flowers of an echeveria plant are usually red, yellow, peach, or orange and grow atop a tall stem. They usually last about two weeks. Intense light and proper temperature help an echeveria flower.
There are many different echeveria varieties. Here are a few of my favorites.
E. Agavoides “Lipstick” has green, pointed leaves with a red border -E. Agavoides “Ebony” has purple tipped leaves that are a bit wider and produces red, lantern-shaped flowers with yellow edges.
E. Painted Lady has spoon- shaped, triangular, bluish gray leaves with a red border and produces yellow flowers with red tips
E. Afterglow has a large rosette of lavender-pink leaves with bright pink coloring around the edges and produces orange-red flowers in the summer.
E. Setosa (Firecracker Plant) has red tipped, pointed leaves covered in white hairs and produces clusters of red, urn-shaped flowers with yellow tips
E. Gibbiflora “Metallica” (Metallic Echeveria) is taller (2ft) and has larger leaves (4″- 6″). The plant has metallic bronze-green leaves with pink edges and produces red bell- shaped flowers.
E. Coloratura has rosettes of blue green leaves with pink edges and produces yellow flowers in the spring.
E. Elegans (“Mexican Snowball”) has pale green, rounded, spoon-shaped leaves and produces tall stalks of pinkish red, lantern shaped flowers with yellow tips in late winter and early spring
Quick Care Tips
Be careful not to overwater
Some sunshine is necessary for flowering
Temperature should be 10°-15° cooler at night-this helps the plant to flower
In winter, reduce watering to once every month or two
How much light for an echeveria: An echeveria plant likes very bright indirect light and some direct morning sun.
How to water an echeveria: In the spring and summer, keep the soil of an echeveria plant barely moist, always erring on the dry side. Starting in late fall and throughout the winter, allow the soil to totally dry out before watering. The leaves become soft and even wrinkle a bit when the plant needs water. Water the soil and avoid getting water on the plant itself. Over watering is the main reason an echeveria plant dies.
How to fertilize an echeveria: During spring, summer, and early fall, feed every 2 weeks with a liquid fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus and potassium (2-7-7). Always dilute the plant food to 1/2 the recommended strength. Never feed an echeveria in late fall or during the winter. You can also use a cactus plant food.
Best temperature for an echeveria: Provide warm temperatures between 65°-80°F (18-27°C). The temperature should be 10°-15° cooler at night. During the winter, when the plant is resting, the temperature should be 10° cooler. An echeveria is not a cold hardy plant. If you put the plant outside for the summer, be sure to bring it indoors before the temperatures drops below 50°F (10°C).
Does an echeveria need high humidity: Succulent plants like an echeveria originated in warm, dry, desert areas and do well in low humidity.
Does an echeveria plant flower: Clusters of red, yellow, and orange flowers develop atop long stemsi during late spring, summer, and early fall.
Echeveria plant pests: Aphids, scale, and mealybugs can be a problem. See a picture and learn how to identify and treat these pest problems in the Glossary of the website.
Echeveria plant diseases: Over watering causes root rot and the plant quickly dies.
Best soil for an echeveria plant: A cactus soil is a good choice. You can also use regular potting soil but, if you do, add an equal amount of horticultural sand so that the soil is loose and drains quickly.
Best size pot for an echeveria: These plants like to be a little root-bound in a small pot with drip holes in the bottom. The pot should be 1″ larger than the root ball of the plant. Keeping en echeveria in a small pot allows the soil to dry out quickly and helps prevent over watering.
How to prune an echeveria: These plants need very little pruning. Gently remove any leaf that turns brown.
How to propagate an echeveria: Use leaf cuttings to propagate an echeveria. Gently detach a few leaves from the plant or use healthy leaves that have been knocked off. Place the leaves on a tray in indirect bright light. After 2-3 weeks a tiny plantlet with its own roots develops at the tip of the leaves. Plant the plantlet and its roots in a very small pot of cactus soil. Do not water, just mist the every few days until it roots well. You can also propagate an echeveria using offsets. (Read more about propagation techniques in the Glossary of the website.)
Poisonous Plant Info
Although an echeveria is a non-poisonous plant and safe to have around cats, dogs, and small children, the sharp tips of the plant leaves can cause a painful sore.
Why are the leaves on my African Violet plant cracking and becoming brittle?
The leaves of an African Violet plant crack and become brittle when the plant is getting too much plant food. When fertilizing an African Violet plant always dilute the plant food to 1/2 the recommended strength and only feed the plant is actively growing. Keep the leaves of African Violet plant dry and out of direct sun; and use plain non-chlorinated water for better leaf growth.