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Painted lady echeveria (Echeveria derenbergii): Home

Painted lady echeveria (Echeveria derenbergii)

 
Painted lady echeveria (Echeveria derenbergii); photo courtesy of Flickr cc/Bjorn S.
Painted lady echeveria (Echeveria derenbergii); photo courtesy of Flickr cc/Bjorn S.

Painted lady echeveria (Echeveria derenbergii)

An important factor in determining the suitability of a plant to your home and envisioning the care it will need, is to know the origin of the plant. Plants that are native to desert regions will require substantial amount of sunlight and loose, fast-draining soil. Plants from the floor of a rainforest will need some protection from strong sunlight and generous humidity.

This Mexico native is a succulents plant with small, pale-green, dense, basal rosettes tipped with pink. It  grows only 4 inches tall, produces many offshoots and flowers freely in the summer. Provide the brightest light as echeverias are particularly prone to "stretch" with inadequate sunlight. Echeveria is one of several plant genera that are sometimes referred to as stonecrop.

Light:

Light is where many succulent gardeners fall short of the needs of their plants. It is critical that you place your echeveria in a window where it will receive a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day. Without extended, direct light, your plant will begin to stretch and lose its attractive, compact form. A painted lady echeveria should continue to receive bright light even during its winter rest period.

If the sun in your sunniest window is not adequate, artificial lights should be considered, alone or in combination with natural light. A white fluorescent light, 6  to 12 inches above the plant will give good results. Artificial light is not equivalent to daylight in strength and must be delivered for at least 14 to 16 hours per day.

Water and Humidity:

Too much water is the most frequent cause of succulent failure and watering requires care. Your watering regime should vary with the time of year. Typically, in the low-light conditions of winter (October through February), water only as often as is necessary to prevent the leaves of your echeveria from puckering (once a month or so). Your plant is not in active growth at this time and prefers extended dry conditions. 

When you water, allow the plant to take up tepid water from below so that you don't wet the leaves.As daylight hours increase, and the plant comes back into active growth, water more frequently but allow the soil to dry completely between waterings. Succulents have shallow roots and they will rot easily if over-watered. They do not need humidity to prosper and misting is not advised. Give them good air circulation rather than grouping them with leafy plants.

Temperature:

Succulents are happy with the temperature conditions achievable in New York area households. Daytime temperatures of 60 to 75° F. and night time temperatures ranging from 40 to 60° F. are well tolerated. Painted lady echeveria requires at least a 10-degree temperature fluctuation from day to night in order to grow successfully. During the winter rest period,  daytime temperatures of 55º to 60º F. are best.

Your home is full of microclimates. Locations near windows may be sunny during the winter, but they are also cool (usually 10 degrees colder than the center of the room). In the summer, a south-facing window gets hotter during the day relative to the rest of the room and the rest of the house. Investigate your home’s microclimates in order to place your plants in the best spots. You may need to move plants to the most comfortable location for the season.

Re-potting:

Re-pot in spring only when completely necessary. The soil and pot you choose for your succulent plays an important role in its health. Moisture trapped around the negligible root systems of these plants can lead to sudden death. The ideal soil should resemble the loose, free-draining mixture of a succulent's native habitat. Equal parts potting soil, peat and sand are generally best. Commercial cactus mixes are acceptable, if not ideal, and readily available but avoid those that have food already in the mix. Your pot must have a draining hole at its bottom.

Nutrition:

Painted lady echeveria should be fed only during their growing season (March through September). A cactus or houseplant  food, fed at half strength, three or four times per growing period is generally advised. Any plant food with a high nitrogen value should be avoided. This plant will spread up to several feet wide unless food is restricted.

Summer Vacation?

Once the temperature warms up outside and the sunlight is plentiful, consider giving your echeveria a holiday in the great outdoors. Acclimatize the plant to changes in light and temperature by taking the pot outside for increasing periods over a couple of weeks. Avoid the most direct, midday sunlight and keep a careful eye on the increased water requirements outdoors. Your plant's enhanced vigor will reward you!

Winter Rest Period:

It is very important to differentiate the non-active growth period of your echeveria and to give it a rest. From October through February, this plant needs reduced water, food and temperature, though direct sunlight should continue.

What to Watch for:

Keep just barely moist, watering from below. Never let water pool in the leaf crown or it will rot.

Remove dead leaves from the bottom of the rosette to avoid hidden infestations of insects.

Echeverias elongate if not given the light they need or if over-watered in the winter.

Leaves will drop if they are watered with very cold water.

Painted lady echeveria (Echeveria derenbergii) in flower; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/Bjorn S...
Painted lady echeveria (Echeveria derenbergii) in flower; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/Bjorn S.

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