Available in myriad funky shapes, sizes, pastel colours and affordable prices, Echeveria make great, easy-to-care-for houseplants for anyone looking for a windowsill accessory.
Their leaves grow in geometric rosettes and peachy orange flowers often poke out from the most surprising places in early summer.
How to care for Echeveria
Endemic to the Americas from southern Texas to northern Argentina, they are well adapted to long periods without rainfall and can go months without being watered.
If you leave it too long however the leaves may begin to wrinkle and curl up to protect the middle of the plant. If your Echeveria is looking like this it is not too late. Submerge the pot in water and use something to hold it in place for a couple of hours, then leave it to drain. In a matter of days your echeveria will begin to recover, lose its wrinkles and start glowing again.
In winter, it’s best to keep Echeveria on the dry side. Their roots are liable to rot if they are are left wet and cold, something that is all too easy to achieve in Britain. Allow the compost to dry out completely before watering again - this might take all winter.
Echeveria are house plants that prefer to be in the sun. For a time they will look perfect on a coffee table, but eventually they will start to grow towards the light, spoiling the geometric perfection of the plant, and sometimes causing them to topple out of their pots. The solution is to keep them somewhere bright. A south facing windowsill is ideal.
It is not uncommon to see happy Echeveria plants flower most summers, given the right amount of light, water and warmth. After flowering, cut back the stem below a leaf or gently break it off the plant.
How to propagate Echevaria
Echeveria are really easy to propagate. Carefully break off some of the lower leaves by wiggling each one left and right. Place these on a bright windowsill, allow the wound at the base of the leaf to heal over for a couple of days, then mist with water every three to four days. After a couple of weeks, you should begin to see small pink roots and a tiny new rosette of leaves forming where the leaf was attached to the parent plant.
Once the roots are a centimetre long you can put them on a free-draining compost facing upwards. After a few months, the original leaf will shrivel away as the new rosette of leaves gets bigger. When this happens, you can cut or break it off. If you have different varieties of Echeveria you can remove a few from each plant and create a baby Echeveria nursery.
George Hudson is Head of Plants and Education at Walworth Garden, a South London charity delivering workshops, courses, therapeutic horticulture and plants for sale in a garden open to all. Follow on Instagram @walworthgarden