The beautiful Echeveria agavoides was the first succulent that really sucked me in to learning about the types and cultivars out there for some species and hybrids.
They’re generally quite easy to grow, quite forgiving, and can show some gorgeous coloration depending on various types of stress or the season. There are quite a few domestic hybrids, and even more available from overseas, most notably Korea. Most of what I’ll be discussing here are my domestic cultivars and/or hybrids, as I’ve had very middling success in rooting Korean imports. That’s not to say you can’t have success with imports – chances are, my struggles are due to my own cultivation bad habits, particularly over watering.
In the southwest US, these can be grown quite easily outdoors, especially in a partially shaded patio or even with full sun exposure. I use them as landscaping plants! If you’re further north or east, however, you’ll likely need to keep yours potted and maybe even provide supplemental lighting for best growth.
The species is found naturally occuring in Mexico, in the central region of San Luis Potosi. In the wild, they generally grow at higher altitudes, and are extremely variable. Naturally occuring forms of Echeveria agavoides range from almost non-existant pink/red tips to those with extreme red edging.
They are extremely hardy, easy to grow, and lend themselves well to hybridization. Their ease of cultivation is part of their appeal to many growers, and also makes them well suited to novice or beginner growers.
Potting and Soil
A key part of growing Echeveria agavoides, particularly in pots, is ensuring your soil is very well draining. They have small, flimsy roots, and can be quite prone to root rot if not allowed to dry thoroughly between waterings.
Initially, I grew my Echeverias with pretty much straight succulent soil, thinking that if it’s meant for succulents, it’d be perfect, right?
Unless you’re getting a very custom blend or splurging on Bonsai Jack’s nearly full inorganic mix, your typical succulent soil has far too much organic matter in it and will not dry out adequately. You should be mixing at least 25% pumice into your soil (perlite is an acceptable but less than ideal alternative), and I mix about 50% pumice now to get the level of drainage needed. If you’re repotting your plants less often than every year or two, it’s worth using pumice as a longer lasting and more effective amendment for drainage.
Echeveria agavoides “Miranda” – winter coloration
Again, these succulents have fairly small, useless root systems, so a very well draining mix ensures that they do not get root rot. This is particularly important in the cold winter months, when they are preparing to bloom and are not growing as rapidly as in summer.
Avoid over-potting your Echeveria agavoides, and instead opt for pots just barely bigger than the width of the plant. Ideally, look for shallow pots, such as azalea pots or bowls, for potting your Echeveria.
Echeveria agavoides “Frank Reneilt” winter coloration
Watering your Echeveria agavoides
In warmer summer weather, your Echeveria will happily take regular deep waterings, particularly if daytime temperatures are above 95F. As with any succulent, you want the soil to be dry before watering again, and in hot/bright summer months, it’s best to water in the evenings or early morning to avoid scorching.
In winter, avoid overhead watering if possible, as this can lead to rot in the center of the rosette. With cooler weather and less chances for evaporation, rot at the center is often the leading cause of winter casualties with these plants.
My in-ground plants generally tolerate our winter rains quite well, but we seldom get days of endless rain combined with freezing temperatures. Potted plants have definitely been known to melt in cold winter months and over-enthusiastic watering.
Echeveria agavoides “Love’s Fire”, early winter coloration
These succulents work well as “indicator plants” for those attempting to grow succulents in less than ideal conditions, particularly with indoor lighting.
Echeveria agavoides does best with extremely bright light, nearly full sun being ideal for the most intense coloration. You can spot a plant with excellent lighting by the firm, upright growth of the leaves around the rosette, with the newest leaves pointing almost straight up and nearly touching at the tips.
An Echeveria agavoides “Romeo Rubin” that eventually melted in my greenhouse. In attempting to not stress it too much, I didn’t give it adequate light, which can be seen by the almost flat appearance of the outermost leaves and how open the center rosette is. It is also quite green, despite this photo being from mid-summer, which is when this plant should be showing deep summer stress colors.
My Echeveria agavoides “Miranda” after being brought into the greenhouse after several weeks out in full sun and with full exposure to ver y hot summer weather (and very little water). You can see the very rigid upright growth, tight rosette, and the reddish/orange blushing that is a reaction to sun stress plus low water. My other varieties, including “Lipstick”, “Frank Reneilt”, and “Love’s Fire” also all display this growth shape during summer months.
An Echeveria agavoides is not a succulent that is really happiest growing splayed out and nearly flat. This is why I suggest they make good “indicator plants”, in part because they splay flat very quickly in inadequate lighting, and also because they can recover from it fairly easily if caught early.
If you cannot successfully grow an Echeveria agavoides in a given spot, you can be assured that cacti absolutely will not thrive, and neither will most types of succulents that are described as needing “bright light”.
In addition to splaying flat in very inadequate light, you can somewhat judge if you have “very bright” or simply “adequate” lighting based on the amount of blushing your Echeveria exhibits. A lipstick that is a bright apple green with minimal red edges will often show much more red edging when given more sun exposure.
My first Echeveria agavoides “Lipstick” in spring of 2018, when I was growing it in about 3/4 shade.
The same plant in early 2020, pups divided, but with nearly full sun (shade only during mid-afternoon).
Looking at the Echeveria agavoides “Lipstick” above, you can get a sense of what I mean by increased sun exposure leading to more red edging. With more sun, the plant produced much stronger red edges, even though almost nothing else had changed.
You’ll notice both times, the plnt is growing with a mostly upright habit, with the leaves growing tightly together in a mostly upright pattern, tightly cascading down to the lowest leaves. In both placements, the plant was getting a suitable amount of light for robust growth, but needed more direct sun for the red to show through.
This is also a good place to point out that shade outdoors, in a southern, sunny climate, is not at all the same as windowsill culture or shade in a northern/cloudier climate. Watch the growth habit of your succulent and use that to guide your placement; if even a sunny southern window is leading to a plant even more flat and splayed than the Romeo Rubin pictured above, then your windowsill is not bright enough.
An absolutely beautiful and also gigantic Echeveria agavoides “Ebony” from the SDCSS show in February of 2020.
In addition to being very striking, Echeveria agavoides also tends to pup consistently, especially once they’ve reached about 8″ across but often even when smaller. This makes them easy to propogate and share with friends or family!
They also can supposedly be propogated from leaves, but I have never had any success doing so.
A crested Echeveria agavoides
Echeveria agavoides “Maria” showing some scorching and sunburn from overhead watering before a late fall heat wave. This particular hybrid grows in a flatter rosette than the typical agavoides does.
My imported Echeveria agavoides “Romeo” with summer coloration
My Echeveria agavoides “Scarlet”, a probable import but not sure from where. Early winter coloration.
Front of photo is my Echeveria agavoides “Love’s Fire” when first planted; behind on either side are two Frank Reneilt of different ages. The one on right was planted only a month or two prior, while the very red-orange one on left had been in-ground for over a year.
Love’s Fire blushes a very deep, dark red, and pups constantly compared to the Frank Reneilt.
I’ll end with one of my big, beautiful Echeveria agavoides “Lipstick” planted in-ground. This is from late spring, when the plants show the best well-watered coloration with minimal sun stress blushing. Through summer, the sun stress and heat encourages a burnt orange blush on the leaves, which fades back to apple green with cooler weather and winter rains.