Succulents are the most interesting plants. I am a broken record, as I seem to mutter those words daily. It is almost as though they have their own personaltities and every day I discover something new about one or more of the thousands in my gardens. After receiving a new lens from my father for my birthday, taking a class at YouTube University to learn how to use it, I decided to have a little photo time with my plants this morning.
Two of my favorite times of the week are just after the sun comes up on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It is especially fantastic the morning after a good rainfall. Although it didn’t rain last night, I did feed and soak most of my yard with leftover rainwater I collected last month last night.
All of my plants are perky and almost smiling. Ready for a beautiful day of California sunshine. Hopefully as time progresses I will improve with my camera skills and be able to capture the sense I get in my yard so I can share it with you with photography and not just my words.
We are learning that the best way to accurately identify a succulent is by looking at its flower. One of our favorite flowering succulents right now is the flowers given off by the popular succulent, the echeveria.
The echeveria is a rosette style succulent with firm, fleshy, linear, spoon-shaped, colorful leaves. This plant can be an evergreen perennial or can be a sub-shrub which contains several bunches of rosettes.
The racemes of an echeveria have several umbrella shaped flowers in many beautiful colors which bloom in mid-summer, however the leaves of this fat plant are what makes it so popular. The are truly chubby succulents.
Echeveria are part of the Crassulaceae plant family and are commonly referred to as stonecrops. It was named after the Spanish botanist Atanasio Echeverria Codoy. This succulent is native to Mexico but can also be traced to Texas and South America. Most of the echeveria’s grow in higher elevations with low humidity where temperatures never get too hot. Some species only live on cliff faces where all excess water drains off of them.
There are over 180 different echeveria species and they are very hard to correctly identify. Some are referred to as “Hens and Chicks” which can be confusing because sempervivums are also referred to as “Hens and Chicks”, which is another rosette shaped genus. This is one of the reasons we find so much misidentification with this plant.
Most echeverias are green, gray or bluish colored leaves. Some of them will change color based on their environment, such as temperature or sunlight. As bright and gorgeous as these succulents are, they are not tropical plants.
Echeverias are winter hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture planting zones 9 through 12. They are very easy to care for and propagate. Echeverias are a water-wise plant. Some of our echeverias have gone months without water. This succulent grows best in nutrient-rich soil in full sun. Make sure your echeverias are planted in well-drained containers or areas of ground.
We have several success stories of echeveria surviving happily indoors in a sun room in North Dakota for years. Several cuttings were placed in a pot roughly 2 years ago. They have definitely not grown as they do in California, but they have become strong plants. Just recently they started to shoot off their first flowers!