Echeveria “Tippy” is in my top ten favorite hybrids, despite how common it tends to be. You can find Echeveria “Tippy” either as an imported hybrid or at your nearest big box store, with a corresponding price point. I’ve seen them available in clearance bins, as large gallon-pot size specimens, or as tiny little imports.
This Care Diary post will be about mine, mostly focusing on my import-stressed specimen but also the group I have planted in our front fountain area, all picked up from my regular wholesale supplier. Part of why I love them is the sheer ease of their care: they’re pretty much impossible to kill, even if you sun burn them, over water them, or (as we recently dealt with) they get hailed on.
This pathetic little blob is a Korean import I got at a super low price, probably cost, due to it arriving in poor condition to the original importer. This was June of 2019, fresh out of the box, and I simply plopped it on some cactus soil and hoped for the best.
Year 1 – Freshly Imported
I’d snagged this Tippy because I wanted to see what the hype was all about for imported succulents, and googling Echeveria Tippy brought up some truly gorgeous and striking plants. I figured that I could probably rehab this plant and grow it up into something spectacular.
This missed a couple of the key points that are what make imported succulents, particularly Korean imports, worth their price tag:
- You get the Korean imports for their very specific look. These should be true to type, and be able to be coaxed into looking like a magazine picture.
- When you’re getting a discounted specimen, it’s usually because it’s stretched and otherwise doesn’t look as pictured. You have no way of knowing if it’s a good example of the cultivar or not
But, importantly, these discounted imports let me learn. I grabbed my Tippy with a couple others – Echeveria “Sacred Peach” and Echeveria “Magic Jam Gold”. They all arrived as advertised: pathetic, pale, and somewhat stretched.
Acclimating the Poor Thing
I took about 3 weeks to acclimate the Tippy to going outdoors in its final spot. I did this by first keeping it near an East facing window for several days, then moving it to a shaded area outdoors that only got about an hour or two of morning light for several days. After that, I’d move it further out to places with more sun bit by bit, just a foot or two a day, until it was getting sunlight for about half the day. At that point, I put it in the final spot, which is nestled against a plank fence and sheltered with shade from a palm tree during the hottest parts of the day.
I potted it in a pot that was way too big – I highly recommend learning from my mistake, and potting your imports in pots that are just barely bigger than the plant is around. If you find them, use relatively shallow pots, preferably terra cotta (for fairly rapid wicking away of moisture from the roots). I have become quite fond of using tuber or bulb pots for starting imported or unrooted plants, as the super shallow pots mean that you don’t have a cesspool of wet or damp soil at the bottom of the pot while the top layer by the roots is bone dry.
This Echeveria, however, got all the benefit of my complete inexperience, although fortunately I was using EB Stone’s Cactus & Succulent blend rather than Miracle Gro. Whatever you use doesn’t have to be that precise brand, but do hunt for a soil blend that isn’t the mass produced moisture bomb that is Miracle Gro. Don’t get me wrong, Miracle Gro is great for specific uses – flower beds, annuals, or low cost arrangements you’re not terribly worried about ensuring they thrive long term. Miracle Gro can work, but it tends to be high in organic material and is prone to housing pest eggs or the adult pests themselves. Why? Probably the quantity of it that’s made, purchased, and stored at many big box stores; when you have pallets on pallets of the stuff that sit around with frequent shipments of plants, you’re bound to invite some unwanted guests. The more dedicated soil brands, such as EB Stone or Happy Frog or Lucky Fox or whatever they’re called, all tend to have smaller quantities that are shipped/rotated more often. On top of that, the composition of those blends tends to have more variety that’s better suited to the plants you’re growing. EB Stone’s succulent/cactus blend is nice and gritty with a lot of variation in the soil mix, and I often blend it with pumice for a truly airy mix.
The success I ended up seeing with my Tippy from above is that I put a nice, thick layer of pumice all around my little Tippy, and then watered it sparingly as we entered late summer. The pumice, combined with the airy mix I planted it in, allowed for plenty of space for the roots to grow into and expand.
The photo above is from November 2019, and you can clearly see it’s rooted, growing, and thriving! It’s produced a pup, it looks great, and it’s thriving. It’s honestly a testament to the hardiness of the cultivar, as I had it way overpotted and knew little about proper acclimation. Tippy didn’t care. Tippy grew. Tippy thrived.
Do pay attention to the relative size of the thumbnail in the photo. I wish I’d used something more universally recognizable, like a banana, but my increasingly strained thumb will have to do.
December 2019. Looking frosty and pretty. The pale body and farina with the blushing tips were what drew me to this cultivar originally. I was *so proud* of how good this plant looked at the time.
March 2020 – plenty of rain and mild weather, with a handful of frosty mornings, and this is the result. Complete with bonus weed seedling! This is the beginning of the plant truly growing and expanding in the pot, and about when I’d say the roots were really going nuts in that pot. 2020 was year of the Tippy.
August 2020, with a spiderbro. You can get a sense for how big the plant was getting, and how much space it took in the pot!
This is November 2020, right before I repotted it into an 8″ dish shaped pot. You can see that it’s definitely crowded in there, and starting to get the very pretty blushing from the cooler winter weather.
And potted up about a week later, with room to grow! I’m curious how big it will get, or if it’ll produce more pups. When I checked it over before potting it, I didn’t see any other babies yet, so I’m not particularly optimistic. Usually, you’re most likely to get pups from your succulents when they are quite rootbound. Something about limited room to grow seems to trigger the “make pups” genetic switch.
Here it is in January, just before our big hail storm. You can see a bloom stalk beginning to show, and the leaves are turning somewhat yellow. I believe the thick layer of pumice, combined with a blend of soil that had more inorganic material in it, was making the Tippy dry out faster than before and stressing it a bit. Combined with a different spot with more sun exposure, it’s acclimating to a new place. At this point I’ve been watering it every week or two, maybe, due to the cold weather. The colder it gets, the less you want to water your succulents to prevent root rot.
When I first potted it in November, I also added a small portion of Bonide to the soil. Bonide granules are only effective for about 2 months, so by the time the blooms actually finish emerging, they will be safe for our hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. That timing is also part of why I repotted the Tippy when I did; allows for me to do a round of systemic treatment as a preventative measure and to protect the plant while it was getting established with minimal impact on our very beloved local fauna.
Before showing the hail storm damage, this is the best looking of my “yard tippies” – this is one of several I picked up from my wholesaler with the original intention to sell them, but they ended up damaged or defective and I couldn’t list them. Instead, I planted them in a small group out front, and have been rewarded with this gorgeous winter show! Each plant has different hues, and this particular one is the best of the bunch. This photo is from January 2021, also right before the hail storm.
You can see some blemishes, but my Korean tippy fared pretty well in the hail storm. Right next to it was my Echeveria Bambino (featured in the next post) which got quite beat to hell in the storm.
And here is my front yard Tippy after the storm – also fared pretty well, although you can see some of the freckling from the hail hitting it. What I like about this photo, taken in the afternoon, is that the light allows you to see a bit of the powdery farina that is likely part of why these did well.
This tippy is also preparing to bloom, and I’m looking forward to their sprays of little orange, bell-shaped flowers. Probably not as much as the hummingbirds will be!
Thank you for reading and following along; if you want to see a care diary on any specific species or cultivar I have in my collection, don’t hesitate to let me know by messaging me @trexplants on Instagram!