Whilst walking through the nursery the other day, I was admiring the beautiful colours and features of these exquisite plants, I was also somewhat surprised by how many I seemed to have amassed in my private collection and wanted to share some of their beauty with you.
Echeverias originate from Mexico, but now-a-days can be found almost anywhere in garden centres and specialist nurseries. In the UK they can be grown quite happily outside in the garden during the summer months, but they must be brought in for the winter. In the Netherlands they tend to grow them as an annual and plant them out in the garden for the summer and replace with new plants the following year – this is a great way to give a more unusual planting scheme and especially when some of them are so quick growing and relatively inexpensive to replace.
Echevaria Elegans (Species)
Here in the UK, if you want them to live year on year, then you will need to bring them in for the winter – our winters are prolonged and too wet and cold for most of them to thrive outside – especially the more unusual varieties. But saying that I do know E. Elegans has been grown outside all year round in Lincolnshire, by the side of a house – so some protection from the worst of the weather may have prevented it from too much damage or loss over the winter.
There are 130 accepted Echeveria Species of which only a fraction are available in cultivation, and many of these have been hybridised from to create many hundreds more. Echeverias are squat solitary rosettes, others clump form, whilst others have more open rosettes on outstretched stems which may develop into small shrubs, some varieties like the E. Mexican Fire Cracker can grow to 130mm in Diameter and have wonderfully ‘fury’ leaves, another fury leafed variety is E. Pulvinata Frosty, aptly named with it’s white fuzzy leaves.
You may also have seen the more crinkly or cabbage-like edged leaf types, these are a result of much cross breeding over the years, but they form some wonderful and flamboyant varieties, a particularly common one is E. Runyonii v. Topsy Turvy, this doesn’t have such crinkly leaves as say E. Easter Bonnet and certainly the colour from E. Southfields Hybrid is worth a space on the greenhouse bench.
The Echeveria species is variable and sometimes the lines that separate them are unclear and confusing, they are a difficult genus to classify and each year new ones are being discovered as man explores more and more of their natural habitat, which is very mountainous with some species living only on cliff faces and steep slopes.
Some Echeverias are extremely common and can be found in abundance, however there are so many available and all come in different shapes and sizes, they are all easy to flower and offer some amazing blooms, I have been known to cut these and have them in a vase in the house and they have done rather well. Echeverias make very ‘easy’ and ‘friendly’ companion plants, rarely crowding out other plants, but also not caring if they pushed aside a bit. They make fantastic table arrangements and recently have been very popular with weddings and other social gatherings in the floral schemes, one often seen is E. Glauca, this is a beautiful blue hue and can make a large rosette quite quickly – it can also cristate easily and these too are a beauty to look at.
Another favourite of mine is E. Agavoides v. Red Edge, the Agavoides has many cultivars, two other popular but not commonly found are shown here and the species can grow up to 10″ across, they are not the most vigorous in producing babies but they are good strong growers and the striking colours make them a bold addition to any collection.
But not all Echeverias are big growers, if you are looking for something a little smaller growing, but still pretty then these varieties are worth trying….
But I suppose my all time favorite is E. Compton Carousel, this is probably one of the slowest growers and rarely ‘pups’ but the beauty of this plant is quite frankly stunning!!
So thanks for reading, this is just a few from my collection, and I hope you have been tempted to try and grow a few yourself. If you are looking for any of the above then please get in touch as I may have some available for sale – but alas none of the Compton Carousel and most of these are not listed on our website shop… yet.