What is the difference between an Echeveria and Graptoveria succulent?

What is the difference between an Echeveria and Graptoveria succulent?

The name Graptoveria is a combination of Echeveria and Graptopetalum. It is a hybrid between the two plants. Like most people I thought these plants were another Echeveria variety rather than a hybrid between two genera.  So how do you tell the difference between an Echeveria and a Graptoveria and is there a difference in their growing conditions and care?

Growing Conditions
Most Graptoveria are low growing and normally grow with a clump-forming habit.  Their growing period is in the Summer, they are drought tolerant, can withstand a full sun position and can grow in part shade.  They also tolerate wet winters. For those of you who live in colder climates they have a good cold tolerance too. So, does that sound familiar,?  Basically, they have the same growing habit as an Echeveria.

Graptoveria Fred Ives

Graptoveria Fred Ives

Both Graptopetalum and Echeveria come from the same Crassulacae family. As with Echeveria there are many different varieties of Graptoveria. Like Echeveria there are some varieties with very plump/thick leaves and there are also  some with very thin flat leaves.

Graptoveria Succulent Graptoveria Succulent Graptoveria succulent

I thought one of my Graptoveria was dying when the stem shrivelled up and died. (see below)  I waited to see what happened – as many other succulents have revived and survived after looking dead.  Not too surprisingly the plants rosettes put down new roots and continued to grow as separate plants.  Why did the stem shrivel up? – I’m not 100% sure, research suggests it was probably due to high summer temperatures and not enough water.

Graptoveria dying shrivelled stem on Graptoveria Succulent

Sometimes the leaves on a Graptoveria may look blotchy.  This is normal when they are changing colour from summer to winter.

How do you tell the difference between a Graptoveria and Echeveria?
Apparently the only way you can tell the difference between an Echeveria and Graptoveria is by the flower. The flower is neither an Echeveria or a Graptopetalum flower. The two photos on the left are a Graptoveria flower: the petals open out wider, they have spots on them and the stamen reaches outside the petal. On the right are the Echeveria flower which are more compact, they tend to be more closed even as a matured flower.

Graptoveria Flower Graptoveria Flower Echeveria flower close up Eceheveria Flowers

Other than the flower there really is not much difference between an Echeveria or a Graptoveria.   The only other very small difference that I have noticed (in my experience) is that the Echeveria may cope with higher temperatures in a full sun position than a Graptoveria would.  Hence, the shrivelling stem situation that I had occur last year.  So if you buy a succulent from a hardware store that just says ‘ succulent’ on the name tag -or you are given a nameless Echeveria or Graptoveria succulent and you are unsure of what it is, do not worry!, treat it the same and it will survive.  Alternatively, you could try and identify the plant online (see post: Where can I identify my Succulents? ).  Make sure you look under the Echeveria and Graptoveria category though!

Can you transplant succulents?

Can you transplant succulents?

If you grow succulents in pots or the ground then there may come a time when they need to be transplanted. Even though succulents like growing in tight spaces they may outgrow a pot. The position in your garden might become shaded and the succulent needs to be moved to a sunnier one or simply because they have overgrown an area.  You may want to transplant a succulent from a pot to the ground. Whatever the reason the question may arise – Can you transplant succulents?

The answer is: of course you can !  Succulents are not like other plants that turn up their toes and die if they are moved. They are very adaptable to pruning, transplanting, tolerate drought and numerous other situations.  They have very shallow roots that makes them very easy to transplant. They are the easiest plants to transplant.

Transplanting from pot to ground
If you decide to transplant a succulent into the garden you will need to consider the following:

Echeveria succulent

a) how much sun or shade has been received in the pot
If the succulent has received only morning sun in the pot the easiest transition to transplanting into the garden is to find a spot that receives the same type/amount of sun.  If you transplant to a position that receives full sun in the afternoon the leaves will get sun burnt as they wont be conditioned to this amount and type of sun intensity. Conversely, if the pot has received full sun and the garden area is shaded for part of the day it will be coping with different conditions.The succulent will ‘not’ die but will take time to grow back to its previous condition in the pot while is acclimatises.

If you want to transplant to different sun conditions and want to avoid the sun burnt leaf situation you can put the pot in the garden position and increase the amount of time it spends in that position until the plant becomes used to it. When you see that the succulent is doing well (in the pot) in that area of the garden you can go ahead and transplant it in the ground.

b) how often you have watered the succulent
The succulent will receive annual rainfall when planted in the garden so keep this in mind when you choose the position.  If you have a very wet winter it may affect the appearance of the succulent.  Planting succulents under trees is often a good idea as the tree roots will use a lot of the water in the ground.  (as long as it is a sunny position under a tree!)

c) the type of soil/ground area
I have planted all of my succulents directly into soil in my garden and have not used special succulent potting soil. Succulents can survive in many soil types except probably clay which holds water rather than letting it pass through. A good tip for succulent planting is to build a small mound of soil and plant them in the top of the mound so that any rainfall runs off. This is the opposite of advice for normal plants when you dig a hole and put the plant in so water stays around the roots of the plant.

d)best time to transplant
I successfully transplant succulents at any time of year but general advice is : autumn is best for succulents with a winter growing season and spring is best for summer growing succulents. If you transplant the succulent into the garden and it doesn’t do well you can dig it up and move it to a different position until it does thrive.

See before and after photos below (7 month growing period) of one of my succulent gardens.

Succulent Garden

Succulent garden planted – October 2016

Succulent Garden Australia

May 2017

When they have outgrown the pot
Succulents will happily grow squashed in any crevice or rockery and also any pot.  Its sort if their ‘thing’ to do so. It will not kill them to be squashed but they would be happier if they had more room to spread and grow.  The more room they have the further they will spread.  (see below)

Echeveria Elegans

You can transplant a succulent into another pot the same way you would transplant any other plant.  Choose a larger pot, put some potting soil in, carefully upturn the succulent pot and put in the new pot.  The only difference would be not to water the new pot straight away. When you have transplanted a succulent, whether it be in the ground or another pot.  Do not water it for a couple of days (at least) so that it becomes used to its new surroundings and the roots can heal.

The photo below is a good example of a pot which I need to transplant into a bigger pot.

Echeveria outgrowing its pot Echeveria pups

Transplanting from one area to another
If you want to move a succulent from one part of your garden to another.  It is as easy as finding an area with similar sun conditions, digging it up and moving to the new area.  If it does not do well after a month or so you can transplant it again. Most succulents will thrive and prosper in any soil in the garden with the right amount of sun and with soil that drains well.

Can succulents be grown with other plants?

Can succulents be grown with other plants?

If you are like me and want to grow succulents in your garden rather than in pots then the questions will arise.  ‘Which are the best plants to grow succulents with?’ The most obvious answer is going to be : other succulents.  The reason being: other succulents will prefer the same growing conditions.  ie not too much water, they will love the sun and well drained soil. However, you can grow succulents with other plants as long as you consider a few things.

Succulents will die very quickly if watered every day, so do not put them with plants that thrive in a moist soil and require water on a daily basis.  There are many native and other plants that can do without water every day and can be watered weekly.  Many succulents grow well under trees as they are protected from rain showers and the ground does not get as saturated.

Succulents in a large pot

In general, all succulents will grow their best in a sunny position. Many will get leggy (etiolated) without at least six hours of sun and many become more colourful and flower more profusely with eight or more hours of direct sun.

For this reason if you are planting succulents with other plants be sure to grow your succulents at the front of the garden bed (or sunniest position) so they receive enough sun. If another plant grows (over time) to a height that shades your succulents they will not do very well. Most succulents are low growing plants so they will look great at the front of a garden bed.

Succulent Garden in Australia

Succulents do ‘not’ require a humus rich soil.  Most succulents originate from desert or semi desert areas where the soil is mainly sand and does not have any nutrients.  They ‘will’ survive in normal soil and normal potting soil.  Clay soil is not ideal for succulents as it holds water and can rot succulent roots. So do not companion them with plants that require a humus rich soil.

So you can grow succulents in most soils except clay.  The main point to remember is to make sure that the soil drains well, so planting in a raised garden bed or on a rockery with other plants is ideal.  If you plant succulents in a flat garden bed you can build  a mound above the garden floor and then plant the succulent in the mound so that the water will run off.

Can you grow succulents with succulents?
Succulents love growing in small confined spaces such as rock crevices and rockeries and also love being squashed in a pot with other succulents. As they grow as a plant they grow squashed together.  (see below) The only possible problem that can develop is if one of the succulents develops mealy bug.  This can easily spread to other succulents when they are planted close together.  If this does happen it is best to remove the infected succulent as soon as possible.  This can be done by cutting off the part of the plant that is infected by the mealy bugs.

Echeveria Elegans echeveria succulents


Growing succulents in pots
Growing different succulents together in pots look great.  They will outgrow the pot eventually but as they are succulents you can prune the plants that are getting too large and transplant it in another pot or elsewhere in the garden. ( see post: Succulent Planters/Containers – should I buy one? )

Echeveria planter

Echeveria Genus

Echeveria Genus

The Echeveria genus of succulent is one of the most popular in the succulent world.  There are websites and Facebook pages dedicated to it.  This is understandable as it is an amazing plant which can grow in full sun or partial shade and is also drought tolerant.

There are approximately 150 different varieties of Echeveria. It was named after a Mexican botanist – Antansio Echeveria and is native to Central America, Mexico and northwest Southern America.

The largest Echeveria can grow to about 50 centimetres (20 inches) in diameter. Most have their growing season in the Summer whereas others grow in Spring – when they start to produce their amazing flowers. Some of my Echeveria’s produce flowers all year round.

Echeveria Flower

Echeveria are happy to squeeze into small areas in rockeries and are great companion plants for other succulents.  When they grow new plants (pups) they are usually squashed under the parent plant.  Some varieties can grow in a carpet across your garden.

Echeveria Elegans Echeveria Echeveria planter

Echeveria can grow in partial shade but prefer a sunny position.  When they receive too much shade they tend to stretch (etioliate).  Therefore, they look the best grown in a sunny position and do NOT make a good house plant due to low light levels.

Can you grow Echeveria in full sun?
Echeveria cope well in full sun and I would go as far as saying they love full sun. Some varieties produce a fine wax/powdery layer on the leaves which is their natural protection against the suns strong rays.  (see below)

wax on echeveria succulent

The leaves at the bottom of the photo have the wax rubbed off. This leaves the leaves unprotected from the sun.

Many of the Echeveria I have grown have thrived in a full sun position.  When they first grow in a full sun position they may get sun burnt leaves but most varieties will get used to the sun and the new leaves will not get sun burnt.

Problems with Echeveria
Aphids are attracted to the Echeveria flowers however I have not had many aphids on my flowers.  If I have aphids I usually snip off the flower they are attracted to and it goes straight in the green bin.  The aphids are more detrimental to the plant than the plant losing a flower.  Mealy bugs can also be a problem and can kill a plant, growing your Echeveria in the sun can help stop mealy bugs too. Echeveria do not cope with frost or cool temperatures.

Why have my Echeveria leaves started curling?
Some of the larger Echeveria varieties have leaves which will change as they mature. The leaf edges, which start out round and flat, start to grow with curly edges – this is known as leaf curl. (examples of leaf curl below)

Echeveria with Carunculated leaves

E. Peru- The outside leaves are flatter, new leaves start curling.

Echeveria Strawberry Hearts

E. Strawberry Hearts – The outside leaves are round and flat and the new leaves are curling.

Why has my Echeveria changed colour?
During summer Echeveria can be one colour and a totally different colour during winter. The photo on the below left was taken in autumn/winter and the photo on the right was taken in the height of summer.  It’s hard to believe its the same plant.

Echeveria Echeveria Succulent, Colour Change

Stress, fertiliser and the position in your garden can also play a part in just how much any succulent might change colour during the year.

Propagating/Echeveria Pups
The smaller leaved varieties of Echeveria tend to produce pups/offsets whereas the larger varieties do not.  The pups can (sometimes) be gently pulled away from the parent plant and replanted.  If they do not pull away easily they can be snipped off with a pair of secateurs.  They can also be propagated by pulling off a healthy leaf, which will sprout new roots and then develop into a plant.  I still think Its quite amazing.  See post: (How to Propagate Succulents.)

Echeveria Facebook Groups
As I mentioned there are Facebook pages dedicated to the Echeveria genus.  One great Facebook group is –  ‘Echeveria Australia’ – it has nearly 4,000 members.  It is great for posting photos of your Echeveria for fun or having others help you identify the variety.  It is a closed group so you will need to ask to join. I have learnt quite a lot from this Facebook page. There is another Facebook page called ‘Planet Echeveria’ which has over 7,000 members.

Echeveria Websites
http://echeveriasinoz.net is a great website that lists all the Echeveria available (I assume) in Australia with an alphabetical photo gallery.  It may take time but you can scroll through the photos and find that Echeveria you purchased from your local hardware store that just stated ‘Echeveria’ on the identification tag!

Echeveria Hybrids
There are a few succulents that look very similar to the Echeveria genus and it can be very confusing.  Some hardware stores/nurseries and sellers have even been known to tag a plant as an Echeveria when it is not.

Below is a Graptoveria which is a hybrid between Graptopealum and Echeveria.  It was tagged by the nursery as a Graptoveria but to me looks like an Echeveria.

The good news is that the Graptopetalums and Pachyphytums genus that look similar to the Echeveria genus also like full sun, survive in part shade and are drought tolerant.  So whether the plant is identified incorrectly you can grow the plants in the same conditions and they should survive.