Echeveria and Aeonium: Drought-Busting Succulents
Some plants need lots of care, but Aeonium and Echeveria are easygoing and trouble free. Native to dry, sunny climates, they are drought tolerant, slow growing and require virtually no pruning, making them perfect for those short of time. Their sculpted leaves and unusual flowers also make decorative displays.
Echeveria and Aeonium have a height of 1 1/2 inches to 6 feet and a spread of 5 inches to a maximum of 6 feet. Aeonium prefers partial shade to full sun and the variegated forms need good light for the the best color. Echeveria prefers full sun. Aeonium needs 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) and Echeveria (7 Celsius) at least 45 degrees (7 degrees Celsius).
In the past Echeveria and Aeonium would have been seen gathering dust on window ledges indoors, but these attractive tender plants are perfect for garden displays from late spring to the first frost in the fall, after which they’ll need some protection to survive the cold months ahead. These decorative succulents encompass a great range of sizes and appearances.
Some are large multibranched shrubs grown for their purple, bronze, green, blue or variegated rosettes; others produce cascading stems or form a single flat rosette. A number have leafy rosettes as large as dinner plates, while diminutive types are the size of a thumbnail. Despite their diversity, all thrive in gritty, soil-based compost and look particularly effective in terra-cotta or glazed containers. Water plants every two weeks in the summer and shelter them from long wet periods. Top-heavy plants or those that produce a single main stem may need staking to prevent them from toppling over.
Although solitary specimens can look good, you can create a more striking display by grouping them together. Combine different colors, shapes and sizes, placing larger succulents in the center and low-growing ones toward the outside of the group to achieve a 3-D effect. Top-dress the pots with gravel or an ornamental mulch to complete the effect. Create a striking display by grouping succulents together on a simple wooden table on a sunny patio.
Protect these succulents from frost damage by placing them on a light windowsill indoors or by draping a sheet or two of garden fabric over containers and storing them in a heated greenhouse for the winter. Apply a small quantity of water when the compost dries out completely, and remove any dead or diseased leaves as soon as you see them. Control mealybug where necessary.