Genus: Echeveria (ech-eh-VER-ee-a)
Species: imbricata supbsp glauca (glau-ca)
Echeverias are arguably the most attractive of all succulents, highly valued for their amazing colours and variation, with the stunning leaf colour of many varieties at its most brilliant in the cooler months. Native to the Americas, they are prized by collectors and gardeners the world over. Their rosettes range in size from 2cm to 50cm in diameter. They generally flower in the warmer months with colours ranging from green to pink to red.
Echeveria imbricata exhibiting pink tinges on the tips of its leaves.
Most Echeverias are summer growers. Once established they can tolerate extended dry periods without watering but will grow stronger if they receive adequate water during their growing season.
As my trees got bigger, the shade started taking over my Echeveria patch.
Here in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa) they do not seem to be able to withstand the severe frost we get, and a couple of winters ago I lost half my stock. So I've resorted to putting them all into pots and various other containers which can be brought inside or under cover during the winter months.
Free-draining, porous soil is essential to prevent root rot. Echeverias are shallow rooted plants and therefore benefit from good levels of organic matter in the soil. Good ventilation is important for minimising pest and disease risks. Generally, the more sun they get the better they will display their colours and shape, but protect them from excessive sun during hot weather.
Echeveria imbricata sharing a wooden crate with some Aloes
Echeverias sharing space with Crassula imuscosa in a container
Echeverias in terracotta pots, ready to go under cover for the winter
As it does not tolerate temperatures below 7°C (45°F), in temperate regions it is grown under glass with heat. Like others of its kind, it produces multiple offsets (called pups) which can be separated from the parents in spring, and grown separately – hence the common name “hen and chicks”, applied to several species within the genus Echeveria.
However, one must be beware of the problem of common names. Hens and Chicks is a very poor name for this plant because it leads one to assume that it is the same category of plants called Sempervivums, also known as Hens and Chicks. But this is a far different plant – it is NOT an alpine succulent, but a Mexican succulent with very little cold hardiness, unlike the Sempervivum. This plant cannot survive temps much below freezing. It is nothing like a Sempervivum, and looks very little like one, too, other than being a succulent rosette. Please do not confuse the two or you will sorely disappointed when your ‘Hens and chicks’ melts to mush after the first real freeze.
When planted closely together, Echeveria will form very tight rosettes, so be sure to give them enough space to fully open up.
Echeverias in a pot
Happiness is more than just a state of mind, it's also a state of being, an act of spiritual courage. It's a joy thing. Like an Echeveria.