How to Grow Echeveria Elegans (Mexican Snowballs) in Gardens
Echeveria Elegans is an evergreen perennial succulent. It is indigenous to the semi-desert regions of Mexico. It also has other names such as white Mexican rose, Mexican gem, and Mexican snowball. These flowering plant species are from the Crassulaceae family.
This article focuses on the Echeveria Elegans (Mexican snowballs) Plant, its characteristics, propagation, and uses
There are different varieties of Echeveria succulents. Among them, Echeveria Elegans is one of the most popular and well-known varieties. These gorgeous succulents require low maintenance. You can grow them both as garden plants and house plants.
Also, the Royal Horticultural Society has honored this variety with its Garden Merit Award.
Characteristics of Echeveria Elegans
Photo by EriaWei (Wikimedia Commons) (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Typically, Echeveria Elegans grow about 2–4 in (5–10 cm) tall and 20 in (50 cm) wide. Its fleshy leaves appear in a wide range of colors from light purple to light silvery green. They form a beautiful tight rosette.
In winter-spring seasons, these plants sprout long pink stems (about 1-foot) that bear pinkish-colored flowers. Sometimes, these flowers have yellow tips. They resemble lanterns in shape.
Under ideal conditions, these plants form a thick carpet of beautiful rosettes with their fleshy green leaves. This makes them a perfect choice for ground covers and rock gardens. You can also grow these plants indoors in containers.
Typically, all succulents including Echeveria Elegans thrive well in warm, sunny environments. They have a good tolerance for droughts.
Propagating Echeveria Elegans
Typically, Echeveria Elegans plants require many hours of direct sunlight. They thrive well under full to partial sun. Under deprived sunlight, these plants lose their attractive shapes and grow leggy.
However, it is advisable to avoid direct hot afternoon sun, especially in summer. Extreme heat can cause fatal damages to the plant. Hence, grow them in locations that receive direct morning and evening sun. if needed make shading arrangements to avoid the direct afternoon sun.
If you grow them indoors, place them in a location that receives plenty of indirect sunlight. You can also keep them under Grow lights. This helps them to thrive healthier.
In general, succulents prefer to grow in well-draining sandy soils. They also thrive well in soils that have poor nutrients. For best results, grow them in soils that are specially formulated for succulents.
In any case, avoid humus-rich soils or any other soils that hold water. These plants cannot tolerate waterlogging.
1.) Select a fleshy, healthy, and firm leaf
2.) Separate it gently from the stems by twisting it. Meanwhile, be careful not to damage the leaf. You can also remove multiple leaves if you wish.
3.) Then, Keep the leaf idle until it develops callous in a few days.
4.) Fill a pot with well-draining sandy soil. You can also use cactus soil. Water the pot thoroughly. Then, keep the calloused – leaf on the surface of the soil.
Water only after the soil completely dries out. In a few months’ time, the mother leaf roots and tiny rosettes sprout out. Continue to care for the new plant until the mother leaf withers and falls off. After that, move the pot to a bright spot that receives direct sunlight. You can also replant the new rosette outdoors.
Typically, small offsets develop around the base of the Echeveria Elegans plant.
1.) Remove the offsets gently. keep them idle, undisturbed for a couple of days to dry out.
2.) Fill a pot with succulent mix and soak it fully. Then, plant the dried offset in the pot. Make sure not to plant them too deeply.
Water only, after the soil dries out fully or when the leaves appear shriveled. In a few months, the offsets grow into new fresh plants.
How to Re-pot Echeveria Elegans
In general, Echeveria Elegans do not require repotting frequently. They do well root bound even in low-quality soils. However, if you see the roots growing through the pot’s drainage holes, it is recommended to re-pot them.
Select a pot that is about a couple of inches larger compared to the previous one. No need to go pots that are too larger, to contain these slow growers. Then, proceed as stated below to ensure safe re-potting.
1.) Remove the plant carefully without damaging it from the previous pot.
2.) Dust off the excess soil that is attached to the roots.
3.) Then, remove the rotted or damaged portions from the root
4.) Fill the new pot with the fresh succulent mix. You can also use well-draining sandy soils. Water it thoroughly.
5.) Plant the removed succulent shallowly in the new pot. Avoid burying the roots deep.
Caring for Echeveria Elegans
Typically, these succulent plants can thrive for a few months even without water. But they cannot tolerate wetness or waterlog for a prolonged period.
Hence, allow the soil to dry out completely in between watering schedules. In the winter season, reduce watering even further as these plants go dormant.
In general, Echeveria Elegans do not demand additional feeding. However, adding fertilizers can be beneficial, especially in poor soils. In any case, do not overfertilize, as it may harm the plants.
If you are intending to fertilize, do it annually in spring. Always use fertilizers formulated for succulents and cacti. They have ideal compositions to feed the succulents.
In most cases, these plants do not need pruning. Just remove the dead leaves or blooms once in a while. That is more than enough.
In rare cases, these plants grow too tall, especially when grown as ground covers. Even though pruning is not required, some enthusiasts cut off the tops. This helps to maintain the compact shape of these plants.
Caring in Winter
Ideally, these succulents can tolerate low temperatures (about 20 – 50 F). However, they are not cold-hardy plants. If you live in colder USDA Zones (below 9), grow them in containers. So that, you can over them indoors during winters.
Pests and Diseases in Echeveria Elegans
In fact, the Echeveria genus of plants is not bothered by pests and diseases often. However, due to some environmental factors, these plants may get infected. In any case, these plants tend to recover quickly upon treatment.
In most cases, aphids, spider mites, fungus gnats, root mealybugs, and succulent mealybugs infect these plants. Most of these pests are tiny in size. They also hide in shady spots of the plant that are difficult to see.
You can simply wash off the mealybugs and spider mites with a strong blaze of hose water. However, if the plant is infected by root mealybugs, you may need to re-pot the plant.
Small mealybugs can also be wiped off with a cotton swab, soaked in rubbing alcohol. After that, you can mist the whole plant using an isopropyl alcohol solution (diluted). It is recommended to test a small portion of the plant with this solution, before applying it to the entire plant.
If the mealybug infestation is severe, treat it with systematic insecticides like imidacloprid or acephate as a soil drench.
You can simply arrest fungus gnats with the common yellow sticky traps. The presence of fungus gnats indicates the high wetness of the soil. Hence, decrease the watering levels and facilitate sufficient airflow, to prevent reinfestation.
As a last resort, you can treat the pests with pyrethrum sprays, Neem oil sprays, or insecticidal soaps. If every treatment fails, it is best to remove and dispose of the infected plants.
In most cases, deprived lighting, excessive watering, and high humidity are the causes of diseases in Echeveria Elegans.
High humid conditions may cause the plant to grow soft and discolored. In worst cases, it may lead to fatal diseases such as stem rot. There are ways to treat stem rot infection. But success is not always guaranteed.
Remove the plant as a whole and cut off the infected portions. Then, soak it in warm water for about an hour. After that, allow the plant to air for about 12 – 24 hours. Finally, you can re-pot it in well-draining, fresh succulent soil.
As a preventive measure, occasional deep watering is recommended. However, avoid pouring water on the plants. Aim at the base while watering. Also, facilitate sufficient airflow around the plants.
Overwatering or poor drainage may cause both bacterial and fungal infections. As a result, the plants may suffer from fatal diseases such as stem rot, root rot, and rotting in blooms and foliage.
Typically, the infected plants show indications such as discoloring, wilting, stunt growth, and leaf drops.
If you suspect the rotting disease, remove the plant entirely from the container. Cut off the infected parts and allow the healthy plant to air for about a day. Then, re-pot the plant in fresh, healthy succulent soil. Make sure not to water the plant for about a week or so after repotting.
However, if the plant is damaged severely, you have no option but to dispose it of immediately.
As a preventive measure, ensure good drainage and sufficient airflow around the plants.
If the plants are deprived of light, they lose their strength. As a result, they may become leggy, suffer from stunted growth, misshapen, or decolorize.
To prevent these effects, provide plenty of sunlight to these plants. You can also make use of grow lights to eliminate these deficiencies.
Excess heat and underwatering also have adverse effects on the health of the plants. Also, some fungal infections in plants show similar symptoms as of underwatered plants.
To prevent these problems, provide the plants with after-noon shades if you live in warm locations. Water as recommended and treat the infections immediately. You can also use fungicidal soil drench to treat the infections.
Uses of Echeveria Elegans
Echeveria Elegans is a perfect choice for rock gardens. It can serve as ornamental plants with its beautiful sculptural forms. It also fills narrow rock crevices with its low-growing clusters elegantly.
Although considered a mystical belief, some people tie these plants to their rooftops to keep the evil eyes and evil spirits away.
Typically, these plants suit well for container planting, mixed borders, feature beds with contrasting species. They can also form beautiful small borders of silvery-blue color rosettes.
In local gardens, you can grow them as effective ground covers. However, be aware that these plants can grow invasively. Hence, avoid planting them near coastal reserves, bushlands, or designed spaces. If you opt to do so, you may need to prune them regularly.
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