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 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 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)
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)
E. Peru- The outside leaves are flatter, new leaves start curling.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Echeveria Agavoides is a succulent that is readily available in our local hardware stores. It is a relatively common species of the Echeveria genus. It is native to the rocky areas of Mexico, therefore does not like a lot of water, can grow well in full sun and is drought tolerant. There are a few different species – Red Edge and Lipstick are the most common.
It grows to about 8–12 cm (3–5 in) tall, 7–15 cm (3–6 in) in diameter. They will grow easily in well drained soils in full sun or partial shade. Perfect for rock gardens. They can be propagated by stem or leaf cuttings. Mature plants can produce offsets (pups) which can be transplanted. They do not produce as many pups as other species of Echeveria. Agavoides has crimson/red tips which are more prominent when grown in full sun. They have the usual echeveria flowers – a pinky orange colour on long stems.
Without sun they are 100% green without any crimson/red tips. The following plant was totally green when I purchased it. It now spends approximately 3 hours of full sun during the day but only has tiny crimson tips. I have purchased another specimen to plant in full sun for most of the day to see if the colour is more prodominent.
When I bought the Agavoides below it was light green and healthy. I believe it was grown predominantly in shade. I placed it in a sunny position which received full sun in the afternoon. A week later it looked quite ill. If I was a novice with succulents I would have thought it was dying and thrown it out. The leaves on the plant were/are sun burnt as it was not used to full sun. As there are new leaves forming in the middle of the plant (as you can see in the photo) then the succulent will survive.
Echeveria Agavoides – full sun has burnt the outer leaves.
If water sits in the rosette(middle of the plant) for too long (days) this can cause problems with fungal disease or rot the plant. As with all succulents Agavoides can be attacked by mealy bugs. If the plant has been growing in partial shade and moved to a full sun position the leaves will burn but it should recover within a few months, as per the photos below.
Looking healthy but with no red tips.
One week later, burnt leaves after growing in the afternoon sun.
Four months later after growing in afternoon sun- looking fabulous
This is another Echeveria species, like Echeveria Black Prince that is hardy, can be grown in full sun or partial shade and is readily available in hardware stores. (see post: Echeveria Black Prince Succulent )
Every garden in Australia (and the Southern Hemishphere) would have a full sun area. Full sun can mean temperatures getting up to over 50ºC (122ºF) for more than a few hours. There are succulents that can survive these sorts of conditions; which is why I love succulents. As I’ve mentioned in other posts not all succulents will survive full sun, they require some shade or their leaves tend to get sun burnt.
A number of succulents produce a waxy or powdery sun-protecting coating, often in delicate shades of pink, blue or pale lavender. This coating will rub off at the slightest touch revealing the green photosynthesising surface underneath.
The following succulents ‘have’ survived full sun in my garden. They have survived heatwaves of 3 days or more, which means 40ºC+ (104ºF) heat.
I know this is a common favourite among succulent lovers and I can see why. They are one of the prettier types of succulents with their gorgeous rosettes, they are quite hardy, do not need much water and YES they love full sun. They are also very photogenic as you can see below. There are lots of different types and forms of this amazing succulent. When they are growing in ideal conditions they will produce ‘pups’ – little babies that grow to the side of the parent plant. They are low growing but eventually they will spread and form a beautiful carpet across your garden. All of the Echeveria below have grown in full sun during this Summer through several heat waves. Some echeveria have a wax or powdery layer on the leaves, this is a natural protection against the sun so try not to touch it or wipe it off.
There are some very hardy Crassula succulents. The most common one is the Crassula Ovata – Jade plant. Hardy to me – meaning they love full sun. They also cope with some shade. In full sun they have orange tipped leaves, in shade they are mostly green. There are some interesting varieties. I love the Crassula Aborescens – or Ripple Jade that looks like a lettuce (to me). See below photo on the left.
I have had varying results with the Agave Attenuata in my garden. Yes they definitely love full sun. However, they sometimes take a few years to really grow well in a full sun position. Once established however, they do very well. I have also had success growing Agave Attenuata in full shade.
Another succulent that is hardy, loves full sun and is also spectacular is the Aloe succulent. They come in many shapes and sizes with the most common being the Aloe Vera. There are some large Aloe succulents and some smaller varieties.
The Kalanchoe species is another succulent that can survive in full sun. They flower prolifically in the Winter and come in lots of different colours. This is another succulent that you can snap a piece off and stick it in the ground and it will sprout roots and grow.
Aeonium Aboreum cope very well in full sun. However, take note that this succulent has its growing period in the winter and is dormant in the summer. So it will look very different in the summer but will survive full sun heat wave.
Succulents in pots will not tolerate full sun as well as succulents in the ground!
These are a few of the succulents that I grow in my garden that love full sun conditions. Keep in mind that sun tolerance in a pot is much less than in the ground. The soil in your pot heats up on hot days and it can be fatal for plants. Even when air temperatures are mild, pots standing in full sun become hot. The temperature of potting mix inside a pot can be 10 degrees or more above the air temperature. The roots in pots cannot cope in extreme temperatures and die. Keep this in mind when you buy a new succulent in a black plastic pot from the nursery.
The succulents that love full sun also do not require a lot of water. That is a win win situation. They can make do with annual rainfall or a good watering if you get the time.
Agave Attenuata – The Big Boys of Succulents
Can Succulents survive heatwaves?
Do Succulents really prefer Sun?
Echeveria ‘Black Prince’ also known as Hen & Chicks is one of the first Succulents I bought, I like its dark brown/blackish appearance. It is a good contrast to other succulents colour wise. I have found it slow growing and can be a bit temperamental – in my opinion. However, it does tolerate full sun and has survived 40C heatwaves. It does not require much water either so it is ideal for hot Southern Hemisphere Summers. The leaves start off green in the centre of the plant but darken to a deep lavender/brown and in time the lower leaves grow outwards.
This is the plant two years ago when I first purchased it.
The outer leaves turned orange over the winter with too much winter rain.
This photo was taken in 40C heat, still coping with a bit of leaf burn.
When the Echeveria pinky red flowers appear (this is called bolting) you can take the leaves on the flower stem off and propagate a new plant quite easily. Lay the leaf on top of the soil/potting mix and it will soon start to grow new roots. You can also propagate by gently pulling off any of the leaves but I have read that the leaves on the flower stem are more likely to grow as they have more hormones in them – from producing the flower.
Echeveria Black Prince flowering. This is called bolting.
The below photos are of one of my Black Prince which I recently decided to plant in the ground as it was looking quite strange in its pot. I have come to the conclusion that it had too much water over the winter, hence the light brown to orange leaves. A rule of thumb for Succulents is: the thicker the leaves the less water they need, Echeveria Black Prince have thick leaves. Once the rains stopped the plant started forming its famous tight rosette of leaves. Some of the leaves were squashy as well – a bit water logged I think.
Black Prince should be a dark colour, to live up to its name. However, as you can see by mine in the above photos it can change colour. A very light brown seems to be the colour it changes when it has alot of water. It can turn black in full sun and green in a more shaded position without sun. If you have your Black Prince in the ground and it does not get a lot of winter sun and changes to a green colour do not worry, this is just the plant adapting to its current conditions.
Black Prince can be a juicy morsel for mealy bugs. During the winter one of my Black Prince had mealy bugs, it looks like cotton wool spread over the plant. Unfortunately I did not take any photos. I removed the infected leaves and then moved the plant away from my other succulents. I did not treat it with anything. The plant recovered after a month or two. I have found my leaves have been munched on by something but can never find the culprit.
If you have dead leaves on the underside of the plant remove them, is is natural process and nothing to worry about. These dead leaves can encourage mealy bugs. Also remove any leaves that have been eaten (as above).
Surviving A Heatwave
Yesterday we had over 40C again. I took the photo of my Black Prince today. On the left hand side of the photo you can see the leaf burn on the older leaves but the new leaves in the middle are not effected at all but are strong and healthy. A pleasing sight to see that it has coped so well in such extreme heat.
Black Prince with Leaf Burn from 40C heat
A few months later and the Black Prince has grown very well in the ground. Just starting to flower. See below.