Echeveria

This is a very large genus, including about 150 species. . In addition, there are numerous cultivars that make identification difficult. Members of the genus have a fairly wide range of distribution, extending from the southern part of North America through Central America to South America. Echeve-rias are grown chiefly for their decorative leaves which often form a ground rosette and are very succulent. They may be green, greyish-blue, or silvery-white; some are rusty brown because they have numerous hairs. Species with leaves that are wavy on the margin are popular with growers. The flowers are usually small and arranged in racemose inflorescences that may be up to 60 cm (24 in) high. They are variously coloured – white, pink, orange, greenish or carmine red.

Echeverias require dry conditions and a low winter temperature. Propagate by detaching a fleshy leaf and allowing it to dry for a short while. Insert in pure sand, where it will rapidly make roots. Alternatively, detach the young, lateral leaf rosettes. Propagation from seed takes longer, but the seeds germinate fairly rapidly at a temperature of 18°C (64° F).

Echeveria setosa ‘Doris Taylor’

This Echeveria has no stem. The leaves are arranged in ground rosettes that are very thick, usually spherical or slightly flattened and about 15 cm (6 in) across. The slightly spoon-shaped leaves are 7-8 cm (2 ¾-3 in) long and have blunt tips. They are strikingly hairy on both sides. The inflorescences are usually very rich, composed of numerous, small, reddish-yellow flowers. The cultivar ‘Doris Taylor’ has a compact inflorescence and exceptionally hairy leaves.

Indoor cultivation is very easy. All that Echeveria needs is adequate light and watering just so the soil does not become waterlogged. In summer it can be planted outdoors. It is often planted in ornamental patterns, with other species such as E. elegans and E. derenbergii.

Echeveria agavoides

This species , like most Echeverias, is native to Mexico. It has a very short stem, or none at all. The ground rosette, measuring about 15 cm (6 in), is composed of 15-25 leaves, broad at the base and narrowing towards pointed tips so that they are triangular in outline. They are 3-9 cm (l-3 ½ inch) long, 2.5-5 cm wide, very stiff, leathery and pale green, acquiring a reddish tinge when exposed to the sun. There is a brown spot on the tip. The reddish-yellow flowers are arranged in inflorescences up to 50 cm (20 in) high.

It is a popular house plant and very easy to grow. It requires a nourishing compost. If possible, place the plant in or near a window, as it needs plenty of light, even in the winter. Water moderately in summer and sparingly in winter. The winter temperature should be 6°-8°C (43°-46°F). Propagate by detaching the readily produced side rosettes and rooting them in sandy compost. Even a leaf will root in this way.

Echeveria gibbiflora

This species typically has long stems that may grow by as much as 10 cm (4 in) in summer, and by even more in optimum conditions. The leaf rosettes are spherical to slightly cylindrical and composed of about 20 leaves. These are spoon-like and ob-ovate, tipped with a point and keeled at the base. The striking grey-blue colour of the leaves changes to pink at the margins, even to red in the full sun. The bloom on their surface is very attractive. The inflorescences may reach a height of 50 cm (20 in) and are also entirely coated with a bloom. The flowers are about 25 mm (1 inch) long and light red to pink in colour. New plants can rapidly be obtained from leaf cuttings or by detaching side rosettes. This is a very hardy Echeveria, suitable for planting in the rock garden in summer.

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