Echeveria, Houseplant of the month August

The story of the Echeveria
Echeveria belongs to the Crassulaceae family, the succulents. The plant originated in dry Mexico and was named after the botanist Antansio Echeveria in 1828. There are approximately 150 varieties of Echeveria. The plants have leaf rosettes comprised of meaty leaves, from which flowers on long stems shoot out. The leaves often have a powdery or waxy layer or hairs which protect the Echeveria from the sun. The meaty leaves store food reserves and moisture, to be able to survive in dryer periods.

Echeveria production
In the last few years growers have been working hard to extend the range of Echeverias. This has resulted in a broader range of colourful, strong plants which are easy to care for. This makes the Echeveria one of the most ‘easy care’ houseplants in the range.
What do you have to look out for when buying Echeveria?
• Pot size, plant diameter and choosing the right variety with the correct name. The harder and more solid the variety, the easier for the consumer.
• Varied mix. In a mixed tray only a maximum of 50% of any one variety can dominate and there must be a minimum of 3 varieties per mix in each tray.
• Type of colour dye. With dyed Echeverias it is important that environmentally friendly dye has been used. Also watch out for tearing in the paint through bad handling.
• Health. The Echeveria must be free from pests and diseases. Sometimes scale insects can be found between the leaf rosettes which are difficult to get rid of.
• Storage conditions. Less optimal storage conditions can affect the quality of the Echeveria. The plants can stretch out, rot, dry out or become faded.
• Temperature. The recommended storage and transport temperature is 12°C.

Range of Echeverias
There is a really broad range of Echeverias. Through breeding there are a growing number of hard cultivars coming on the market, which maximize the shapes and characteristics.

These varieties are:
• E. hookerii (pointed and grey green),
• E. setosa (green with white hairs),
• E. agaviodes (shiny green, looks like Agave),
• E. pelusida (red leaf edges),
• E. ‘Perle von Nurnberg (lilac pink),
• E. Black Prince (nearly black),
• E. Lilac China (with a powder layer),
• ‘Glowing Star in the Dark’® (shines light in the dark).

There are a growing number of dyed Echeveria using water based colour dyes and in December the plants are often sprayed with glitter.

Care tips for consumers
The Echeveria is a really easy plant. It likes a light to sunny position, inside or outside, with temperatures above 12°C. The plant only needs water once a week and it must not get too wet. The Echeveria can flower with red, yellow or orange flowers and when it does you should give it plant food once every 2 weeks. Remove the flowers once they have finished flowering. It is recommended to re-pot the plant every 3 years in well drained, sandy soil.

Creative tips for the Echeveria
Echeveria looks great when combined with other succulents in bowls, pots or boxes. On special days such as Christmas the red tinted or light giving varieties work really well. What also look great are robust tubs full of Echeverias on the patio in the spring, summer and autumn.

Published on: 24 July 2014