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)
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)
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.