Hugely varied genus – selectively bred and hybridized worldwide
Echeveria is a huge genus, with not just dozens of species, but easily hundreds of hybrids. Selective breeding, hybridization, and careful growth conditions lead to different types, with colors and growth habits to suit any collector’s preference.
Very generally, most Echeveria can be kept very bright but indirect light. True species tend to have more specific care requirements, with species such as agavoides doing well in nearly full sun. Hybrids, particularly the Korean import varieties, generally do better with more diffuse light, or under grow lights for controlled growing conditions.
Location in the wild
Echeveria grow through the New World in semi-desert areas, from Mexico down into Central America and throughout Northwestern South America.
There are currently around 150 species categorized in the genus, and scientific literature is currently debating if the genus should be split.
A popular and easy to grow succulent with numerous named varieties as well as hybrids. They grow in clusters of thick, fleshy-leaved rosettes, offsetting freely with pups. Some specimens I’ve seen at cactus and succulent shows are absolutely huge, as wide as 24″, but most of mine have grown to be only about 8 – 12″ across even when planted in-ground.
These are hardy and easy to grow, able to withstand temperatures down to 25F for short periods and thriving in hot temperatures of 90 – 100F. They should be allowed to dry between waterings. Some varieties of Echeveria agavoides can be particularly susceptible to “heat melt”, especially in higher sun exposures, so watering in the evening during the hottest part of summer is recommended. Snails and slugs seem to particularly love Echeveria agavoides, and mealy bugs readily hide in the dense clusters of leaves. I have found Sluggo+ applied in the wet spring months, along with a summer treatment of garden spray (similar to what’s used for guarding against aphids on tomatoes and food plants) as an effective way to guard against pests when plants are kept outdoors. Organic methods can still include Sluggo, but for a topical treatment, you’ll have to religiously inspect your plants and use rubbing alcohol on a q-tip to remove mealybugs and aphids.
This is by no means a complete list (you can find a more comprehensive list at this resource), but includes the cultivars I have in my collection:
- Echeveria agavoides “Lipstick” – the most commonly available type; lime green with red tips
- Echeveria agavoides “Ebony” – similar to Lipstick, but much more red edging and a darker overall color (hence, ebony)
- Echeveria agavoides “Frank Reneilt” – Hybrid, a lime green base with pink/red blushing on the outside face, blushes deep red on the tips with more sun and less water
- Echeveria agavoides “Maria” – Mine is a bright lime/apple green, with barely visible red tips in winter, but the example of the variety should be a pale white-green with red tips
- Echeveria agavoides “Miranda” – These should develop red-pink blushing on their leaf tips, but mine is an overall green with slightly visible red tips. More stress/sun may bring out better coloration
- Echeveria agavoides “Romeo Rubin” – Develops a deep red coloration, almost purple, with little to no visible green
- Echeveria agavoides “Romeo” – A paler version of Romeo Rubin, these are more of a white-pink base with a deep purple-red edging on the tips
- Echeveria agavoides “Scarlet” – Compact plant with reddish edges that blend subtly into the green base, similar to lipstick but with softer lines
- Echeveria agavoides “White Ebony” – A Korean import that has a silvery, pale green base color and deep red edges and tips.
A truly stunning echeveria with powdery blue-white leaves and sharp pink edges. These are a Mexican species that grow through the summer, and do best in very bright light with plenty of sun and well-draining soil.
While one of the prettiest echeverias out there, it’s also one of the more challenging. They’re active summer growers that typically only develop a single rosette, very rarely offsetting. They do best being kept fairly dry, with very well-draining soil. They can tolerate a light frost, but do better when wintered at temperatures 40 – 50F at the coolest end. Cool winter temperatures tend to bring out their best coloration. They should be repotted in spring, right before their active growing season in summer, although they don’t necessarily need a larger pot each time. Fertilizer can be a low to moderate nitrogen based feed, diluted and applied in spring and once or twice in early summer. They do not need high levels of fertilizer.
They should be kept in a well ventilated area, and kept dry in winter – high humidity can lead to rot.
Propogation is typically through seed, as they do not readily offset through leaf props.
Also known as the Mexican Giant, these are one of the largest echeverias out there. They’re described from several specimens that vary in growth habit, which is not uncommon in Echeveria. Varieties with more blue-gray coloration, and developing a fine farina, have been described growing on volcanic mountain sides, while others in the southern end of the range seem to have more green leaves. The green leaved form strongly resembles an Echeveria agavoides, but the more popular type in cultivation is the powdery blue leaf form. There are three cultivars described that I can tell, one with long, thin leaves, a more squat and compact form, and the green leaf form.
Easy to grow and offsets freely when older. They thrive in bright light, although should be protected from the most intense midday sun. With stronger light, their powdery leaf coating will become thicker and more visible. They need regular water during their growing season in summer, but should be kept from being overly soggy through the cooler winter months. Blooms readily from April through most of summer.
They do not develop particularly deep roots, and do well in a shallow planting with a pot about as wide as the leaf base. As with all echeverias, they are very attractive to mealybugs, snails, and slugs, and to protect the fine farina, I prefer to give them a systemic pesticide (I am fond of Bonide, although it needs to be used with caution to protect against it getting into any water accessible by animals). Do not ever use neem oil or an oil-based topical pesticide on plants with a farina – it will remove the farina, and it doesn’t come back!
Tolerates night time temperatures down to 32F, but prefers a warmer winter. Does best at 40 – 50F for winter lows.
A beautiful, powdery-leaved form of echeveria. Obsolete scientific name is Echeveria parrasensis, and it is an extremely variable species. Originating from Mexico, they are found in the northeastern side, in the region of Nuevo Leon. They share a range with many of the Astrophytum species, and care can be considered to be similar. They thrive in bright light, and develop their best coloration and appearance in bright conditions and with regular, but not necessarily large quantities of water. They are extremely similar to Echeveria zaragozae, with even their flowers being nearly identical, but cuspidata typically gets larger.
I have found mine to be extremely low maintenance and quite easy, although this is my first year with it in my care. Imported from Italy, mine is a compact, sharp-tipped plant that has been protected from harsh afternoon sun and kept in well draining soil. The powdery farina is dense, and extreme care must be taken when potting or moving the plant.
In habitat, these seem to resemble an agavoides more closely than the cultivated specimen does. My plant is shown at left, and has small, narrow leaves that do have the sharp red tips notable for the species.
I’m not sure where these originate from, if they’re a true species or a hybrid, or anything really aside from I adore them. They’re a beautiful deep burgundy/purple color, get fairly large, and explode with blooms nearly all year if you let them. They have large, thick leaves with a round, somewhat ruffled shape to them. They can be as wide as 12″ across, and are quite hardy.
These are hardy, easy plants, even if they get a bit beat up. I have several I picked up on clearance due to some frost damaged leaves in December 2019, and they rebounded quickly. It only took a couple months for them to look like the specimen pictured left! After a while, though, they need the flower stalks trimmed back and some decent clean up of older leaves, or they start to look pretty bedraggled. They will pup readily, and after a year, mine have produced 3 or 4 pups per plant. I suspect with more consistent watering through summer months, they would have maintained a more full, lush appearance as we entered the cooler winter months again.
A tiny little Echeveria (as the name might suggest) that maxes out at about 4″ across for the largest rosettes. A Mexican species that grows with glaucous leaves that develop bright red tips, particularly in the cold, these are also fairly cold hardy for a succulent. They are native to the northeastern area of Mexico, ranging across a large region east of the Sinaloa mountains.
Easy in many ways, these thrive with well draining soil and tolerate high heat in summer as well as near-freezing lows in winter. They clump readily, and when provided ideal conditions, you’ll end up with a significant cluster within a year or so.
The catch is that they are absolutely unforgiving of overwatering, or too much sunlight. I keep attempting to grow these in a dry, rocky area bordering my Ferocactus macrodiscus, and every summer they tend to die back unless they’ve been shaded by weeds. In pots, they are extremely easy to grow, but again, should be protected from the worst of afternoon sunshine.
The pink/red tips on their leaves become the most pronounced in winter with cold weather, and they bloom in late winter through to spring.
Echeveria harmsii / Echeveria pulvinata
When I bought my first specimen, I purchased this as “Echeveria pulvinata var. Ruby Slippers” (not what is pictured left), and have thought of these as pulvinata ever since.
Then, when stocking my Etsy store, I came across less vibrantly colored examples, but all labelled Echeveria harmsii. Which led me down a rabbit hole of “what is the difference???”
I still don’t know. I think it’s related to the flowers, and what color they are. Both species have relatively large flowers, but it seems that pulvinata has deep orange-red flowers, while the harmsii has paler orange-yellow flowers.
Pictured left is one of my harmsii clumps, which produce large clusters of orange-yellow flowers and have the mini-tree type apperance that is apparently common for the species.
These are some of the easiest Echeveria I have ever grown, surviving high heat, freezing temperatures, and even hail. They look best when well-watered in summer months, which encourages them to branch profusely and grow as small shrubs. When they get a bit leggy and overgrown, you can simply trim them back and they will branch and regrow like a more deciduous shrub.
They propogate easily from stem cuttings, and just as easily from leaves, although they are much slower from leaf props than from stems. They will bloom for 6 to 9 months out of the year, starting in late winter and extending all through spring and summer if you keep them well watered.
They do not stay small and while they work well in arrangements as small plants, they will rapidly outgrow an arrangement of succulent “heads”. I find them to work better as a mid-height plant with lower-growing species around their base.