Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Echeveria, The Other Hens and Chicks

So you probably figured out from a previous post I have been smitten by Sempervivums.  I really like them probably because they come in so many sizes, shapes and colours, they are fuss free and Oh, did I mention winter hardy???

Well I guess I knew that most of you knew that anyway.

What about this little guy, is he winter hardy??
Echeverias are tender succulent plants native to Mexico.  They form rosettes of fleshy leaves much like the Semps.   

According to one nursery in the province, they are. (Nursery shall remain nameless because for the most part they are a really good nursery).  Last year I was out cruising a few local nurseries in May, looking for something that maybe I didn't have. Here was a whole table of Echeveria.  I was thrilled.  They are here in the perennial section, not in the Greenhouse, so they must be hardy.  Must be new varieties.  But my sceptical mind reminded me to ask.  And I was very disappointed in what I heard.

I asked 3 different people there "are they hardy?, will they survive??"   I got "well, I'm not sure, but they are here in the perennial section so they must be." All three of them, and one may have been the owner, looked as if they had been employees for many years (not high school students).  One did indicate they could be border-line hardy.  I was sceptical and felt that they didn't really know their product.  I bought 4 anyway, I have a small greenhouse and would overwinter them inside. And I really wanted to get a few.  I did some research when I got home.

Most are propagated by cuttings and offsets and if they have not been hybridized, they can be grown from seed.  They are drought resistant but when watered, need to be deeply watered (as with most plants, that is the preferred method).  Even though they are considered a sun plant they do prefer a bit of afternoon shade at the hottest part of the day, because they can burn.  They are best grown in pots.  Use regular potting soil with a bit of grit added to it such as perlite or pea gravel. But most are hardy to zones 7-10. Definitely not survive in this part of the province and I doubt if they would in other parts.

I remarked to Jodi DeLong (bloomingwriter) when I saw her a month later at a gardening event. As I was speaking, she was just shaking her head, 'No they're not, No they're not.'  She had remarked in her blog a month later that there had been many nurseries selling plants that were not suitable to this climate for over wintering.  These types of plants need to be treated as annuals or brought inside for the winter.

Even though I was sceptical of the hardiness of the plant, I wanted some and I had an idea what conditions they needed.  Even talking to those people, they didn't tell me how to take care of them and where they would grow best.  I was very concerned of other people coming by and taking them home.  If they have planted them out, this spring they are going to have a jelly like mess.

Always ask questions at a plant nursery.  People are there to help.  Customer service is one of the most important aspects of a nursery considering all the different products they sell. If you feel you are getting  no help, then find a nursery that gives good customer service. Those who run specialty nurseries know their product inside and out and can help you select appropriate plants for your garden.  That is what we are here for.

1 comment:

  1. I got hooked on Echeverias last year when I spied some in a local nursery that had them in the annual section. I brought mine in for the winter and they all have had a few babies that are going to be raised with care.

    I will be keeping my eye out for more as they are just as addictive as Semps.