Echeveria is a genus of succulent with 150 different unique species. This is one of the most well known and most recognizable genus of succulents! Because of this succulent’s popularity, there are a handful of hybrids that have been bred, which gives plant lovers even more to choose from!
Echeveria care is manageable for both beginners and those with extensive collections. This all encompassing guide will walk you through all you need to know to help these fun succulents thrive. For species-specific recommendations, take a look at my individual care guides!
Table of contents
- Mature Size: Varies, some up to 12 inches tall; rosette size varies greatly
- Sunlight: Best in full sun
- Water: Drench and dry waterings; only when soil is completely dried, minimal water requirements
- Soil: Well draining, gritty soil
- Temperature: 60°F to 70°F is ideal. These plants don’t do well in temps above 100°F or below 32°F or in humid climates. Take inside when grown in places with winters
- Hardiness Zone: 9-11
- Propagation: Offsets, cuttings, leaves
- Flowers: Color varies from species to species
Echeveria are native to the mild deserts of Central America, Mexico and the southwest United States. These beautiful flowering succulents have leaves that grow in a tight, compact rosette shape around a central stem. What makes Echeveria so special is the variety of colors, sizes and textures that are unique to each species. Because of their unique characteristics, they are great not only on their own, but also stunning with other succulents in terrariums or arrangements.
Leaves range from deep greens to bright purples to icy pinks. You may see some Echeveria with fuzzy leaves, crinkled leaves or wavy leaves. Rosettes can be small and delicate or large and plate-like.
Beautiful flower stalks bloom once an Echeveria reaches maturity. The flowers are abundant and just as colorful and whimsical as the plant itself. Best suited for bright indoor windows or outside in warm, dry climates, Echeverias are a must have in any home or garden. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
Direct sunlight is an extremely important part of Echeveria care. It will make a big impact on the succulent’s health. It will also give rise to more vibrant and colorful leaves. The best place for growing Echeveria indoors is in south/south-east facing windows that receive 4-6 hours of direct light every day.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area where Echeveria can be grown outside in the ground, be sure that you are planting them in an appropriate place in your garden. As with indoor grown Echeveria, those grown outside should receive 4-6 hours of direct light per day. However, avoid planting them in an area that receives direct, intense afternoon sun. This is when temperatures are the hottest and when Echeveria are most susceptible to sunburn.
Those who live in climates with nasty winters can still enjoy their Echeveria outdoors during the spring and summer months after spending the winter indoors. Gradually introduce your succulent to the outdoor environment when night time temperatures are consistently over 40 degrees F.
Echeveria care isn’t challenging when it comes to the watering department. While the frequency of waterings will vary from season to season, they require less water than a lot of other succulents. In fact, overwatering succulent can cause root rot and lead to your plant dying.
The best way to water an Echeveria is to use the ‘drench-and-dry’ technique. This means that you should give your plant a thorough soaking each time it is watered. Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings. Using a pot with a drainage hole on the bottom is best because it allows excess water to drain away from the succulent’s roots and soil.
Room temperature water is the best. Definitely avoid warm/hot water because this fosters a humid environment that can lead to damage.
The active growing season for Echeveria begins in the spring and extends through mid fall. As days start to get longer and warmer, the frequency of waterings should increase to allow for growth. During the winter, Echeveria need minimal water. Watering once every 3-4 weeks is sufficient.
Whether in a pot or in the ground, plant your Echeveria in well-draining, rocky soil. And what is well-draining soil, you might ask? It is a combination of organic material (potting soil, bark, compost, etc.) to provide nutrients and larger/coarse mineral materials (perlite, large-grain sand, gravel, etc.) to enhance drainage.
The perfect ratio varies from person to person. I have found that a 1 part organic material to 2 parts mineral material mix works best. If you live in a humid climate, tweaking this ratio in favor of mineral materials is a good idea.
If you don’t want to make your own soil, consider some brands that are sold in stores and online. Bonsai Jack, although on the pricier side and only sold online, is a great brand that makes high quality soil for succulents and cacti. I also use soil I find in stores labeled specifically for succulents and cactus. To increase the drainage capacity, I will mix 1 part store bought mix with 1/2 part perlite or fine gravel.
Your Echeveria will be happiest when daytime temperatures are between 60-75 degrees F with a 10 degree F drop at night. They are not cold hardy succulents so should be brought inside when temperatures dip towards 40 degrees F.
If you keep your succulents inside, normal thermostat temperatures are great but do avoid putting them in humid rooms such as the bathroom.
Remember, as the temperatures start to warm up, increase the frequency of waterings. This is a common mistake that new owners make when it comes to Echeveria care.
Echeveria, when properly cared for, really do not need any additional nutrients that fertilizer provides. Because Echeveria have adapted to the nutrient levels provided by their natural desert environment, too much fertilizing can actually cause damage and chemical burns.
However, if you feel like giving your Echeveria an extra boost, follow these fertilization guidelines:
- Fertilize only twice a year; once at the beginning of spring and again in mid summer.
- Only use slow release fertilizers
- Dilute the fertilizer with water approximately 2-4x more than you would with other plants
- The ratio of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium should be equal for best results
Echeveria propagate extremely easily, meaning that you can use the fundamental succulent propagation techniques. This can be done using leaves, cuttings and offsets. Propagation is best done in the spring to early summer however can be done at any time of the year.
To successfully propagate using leaves, choose healthy, plump leaves from the mother plant. Grasp each leaf at the base and gently rock back and forth to remove it completely from the stem. Allow the removed leaves to dry out and callous over in a cool, dry spot in your house. I lay my leaves out on a paper towel on my kitchen counter since there is good airflow in that room in my house.
Once the ends have calloused over (the ends will appear matte and dry and usually takes 4-6 days), spread the leaves out on new soil in a shallow dish. Place them in an area with indirect light (close to a bright window). Mist them daily to keep the soil damp. Depending on the species, you may start to see roots appear in as a week but it can take as long as a month.
I propagate my Echeveria via stem cuttings (also called beheading) when they have grown too leggy, or stretched out, for my liking. Using a sharp, clean knife or pruning shears, cut 1-2 inches below your desired place on the stem. If there are leaves in these bottom 1-2 inches, remove them and try out leaf propagation. Set the cutting in a dry, cool place and allow the end to callous over for 4-6 days.
Replant the cutting in fresh soil and set in a warm window that receives bright morning light. Do not water for 7-10 days then lightly water once a week for the next two weeks. This encourages root growth. After 3 weeks in it’s new soil, your stem cutting is ready for normal watering. Slowly introduce to more and more direct light.
The last way to propagate your Echeveria is via offsets, or new plant pups that appear around the base of the mother plant. Remove the offsets as close to the mother stem as possible with a clean sharp knife or pruning shears. As with the other two methods, let the ends callous over for 4-6 days.
If your offsets have small stems, place them gently in new soil. Some offsets may have no stem at all and can be placed upright in soil. Place your newly planted offsets in a bright window and water 2 times per week for a month to allow the root systems to establish. Roots have become fully established with there is a bit of resistance when you pull on the plant. At this point, they can be repotted or added to an arrangement.
Tips and tricks
After growing these plants for a few years now, I have come up with a little cheat sheet of Echeveria care tricks to keep your succulent healthy!
1. Only water the base of an Echeveria to avoid getting water on the leaves! Excess water left on the leaves can cause the plant to rot or attract pests. I use a watering can with a long spout to ensure water pours just at the stem base. The only time I mist my Echeveria is when I have propagated offsets and they are just beginning to take root and when I am watering propagated leaves.
2. The bottom and oldest leaves will become dry and brittle. This is part of an Echeveria’s normal growth cycle and not an indication that it is dying. The dried leaves will come off easily so remove them in a timely manner to avoid attracting bugs.
3. Echeveria stems will bend towards the strongest light source. Rotate your succulent 90 degrees when you see a slight tilt toward the sun or plant light to keep it growing straight.
The Echeverias I own are some of my favorite succulents. They are colorful, low-maintenance and easy to propagate. I love featuring them in their own pot but they also do well when planted in an arrangement. With a good watering schedule and bright light, your Echeveria will impress you all throughout the year.