Echeveria Growing, Care & Cultivation
Growing Echeveria can be super rewarding if you follow a few basic principals and rules. They are not very demanding succulents but reward your care efforts with spectacular blooms.
The majority are semi-desert to subtropical plants that grow at higher altitudes off cliffs and on rock faces where extreme weather conditions ebb and flow. Good drainage and ventilation are essential to replicate their natural habitat. And since they are so well equipped to handle drought, if you forget to water them for six months they won't die on you.
Here are some quick tips to help get you started:
- Water these plants based on the seasons. Spring begins the growing period. Increase water through spring and into summer. Dormancy takes place in autumn and winter, water once a month to every six weeks.
- The most common death: root rot. Avoid waterlogged soil as it leads to root rot. They can also handle any cold snaps if the roots are dry. Some species can live through frosts if they are completely dry.
- Less is more. If you're not sure if it's time to water, skip it. Echeveria will die much quicker from over watering than under watering.
- Echeveria love the sun! Over winter and summer keep it bright, but avoid that hot burning western sun which can fry them.
Echeveria Tips to make this an easy plant for anyone to grow well, by understanding where Echeveria come from is not essential in growing them as they are not a too demanding plant to grow if you follow a couple of basic principles. It is very helpful to understand their natural environment, geography and climate conditions if you want to grow them well, and look as attractive and beautiful as they can in nature.
Echeveria belong to the Crassulacea group of plants most of which are in Africa Echeveria on the other hand are all in the Americas. A lonely one in Texas the majority in Mexico then tapering off as they head south to Chili and Ecuador east to Venezuela.
The habitat in which they grow is mainly tropical. But this is important they mainly grow from altitudes of 1000 meters to 4000 meters. Only a few have an epiphytic existence in the wetter lowland tropical areas. So they like the cooler conditions generally temperatures drops about one and a half to two degrees as also humidity gets lower every 1000 meters or so. They do not like frosts but many can take it down to minus 1 or 2 degrees as long as it’s not too wet. The other think to realize about the tropics is, they generally have a long wet season, and an equally long dry season. More southern ones live in high and dry areas, in the foothills of the Andes.
This means most of these plants live in higher rocky well drained areas. They can tolerate drying out for six months or so. They like the sun part of the time. But possibly can live in the part shade of rocks or shrubs or cliff faces. Hilly areas often have more air movement with lower humidity.
So how do we keep these plants happy at your place.? Don’t freeze them. Plants on rocky hills and cliffs often have half a day’s shade, and half sun. They have low fertilizer needs coming from areas of low fertility where most soil has washed away. Drainage is imperative use humus or in Australia a broken-down pine bark with washed river sand off various grades will do the trick. Really, they are not too fussy. I will talk about porosity and soil mixes and fertilizer in a later blog.
Echeveria hate water-logging, avoid too much shade. As they stretch and lose their shape and colour. Stretching also weakens Echeveria resistance to fungal rots nearly as much as over watering does. These last two issues are the main reasons Echeveria die. Echeveria grow mainly in Spring and Summer (increase the watering). They nearly cease growing in Autumn and winter (their dormant period) Much Less water I missed watering my plants for the whole of May this year, except for the very new cuttings.
Echeveria have a problem period in April and May where they transition from the growing period, to the dormant period. Fungal problems become more prevalent as the older leaves start to shrivel be reabsorbed and die back for winter. If the plants have had too much water in Autumn the lower old leaves will not shrivel but die and begin to rot this can spread to other leaves ultimately to the stem where it can take over the plant. If your fast you can cut off the good head dry it and re-root it again. I believe this should be more of a nurseryman’s problem, than the collectors. Nurserymen are always under pressure to produce what the public want or what sells well. Therefore, I feel we often push our plants to hard, and vigorously for too much of the year. To be able to get new young leaves or cuttings for propagation. The home gardener and collector should not be under this pressure so therefore can grow their plants much more slowly. Slower grown plants look better have better shape and colour.
It’s the cooler weather where Echeveria shine with less water they become more compact tightening up to show their real shape colour becomes more pronounced or extreme with darker areas of the plants often changing colour. or becoming more enhanced and exaggerated than in the Spring period.
Echeveria are suited to pot culture more than in the garden in Australia. In pot’s you can control the water, light and temperature the plants receive or need. Echeveria are ideal for the changing needs of people who more becoming more mobile. Living in more confined areas or even apartments. You can have a 2 or 3-week holiday and come to too a happy alive garden that still looks great for your lack off daily attention. What more could you want from a plant that suits the modern fast lifestyle.
There is one rule of thumb I follow with Echeveria. ”Less is more” If your not sure about watering. Skip it. They won’t die over the next week. In the middle of summer. Keep it bright. But skip the very hot, and burning western sun, which can fry them.
I hope this can encourage the people who are unsure about growing succulents, and this can give you the confidence to have a go.
Happy growing and collecting to all.
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