Succulents

Complete Guide to Echeveria elegans: How to Grow & Care for Mexican Snowballs

Read our complete guide to Echeveria elegans for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting and caring for "Mexican Snowball" Succulents
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Of all the different types of succulents, Echeveria Elegans has one of the most recognizable appearances.

An evergreen plant that features whose leaves range in color from light, silvery-green to a light purplish shade, Echeveria Elegans grow in a tight rosette formation and shoots out a 1 foot tall pinkish-red stem that display showy pink, yellow-tipped flowers that resemble the shape of a lantern during the late winter and spring seasons, Echeveria Elegans (also known as “Mexican Snowballs” or “hens and chicks”, or “Mexican gem”) are indeed one of the most show-stopping of all succulents.

When grown outdoors in the proper conditions, Mexican Snowballs spread and will create a thick carped of rosettes, making this plant a great addition to rock gardens or as groundcover. Echeveria Elegans can also be planted in containers and thrive indoors when presented with the proper conditions.

Interested in growing this show-stopping succulent? Read on to learn some important planting and care tips that you can use to ensure Echeveria Elegans will provide long-lasting beauty.

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Echeveria Elegans: An Overview

  • Likes full sun to partial shade
  • Grows up to 8 inches tall and 12 inches wide
  • Can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 to 50 degrees F, though cooler temperatures should be limited, as it is not considered cold hardy. This plant is considered hardy in USDA zones 9a to 11b in outdoor locations.
  • Can be propagated via leaves and offsets
  • Deer-resistant
  • Native to Mexico
  • Very little problems with disease and pests, though aphids, mealybugs, and vine weevils can be problematic.

Succulent Plants from Amazon

How to Grow Echeveria Elegans

Mexican Snowballs can be grown both outdoors and indoors. In either location, the following growing tips should be adhered to in order to ensure success.

  • Like all succulents, Echeveria Elegans needs to be planted in quick-draining soil. Prolonged exposure to moisture can result in root rot and can ultimately drown and kill the plant. Use a commercially made succulent or cactus soil, or you can make your own substrate by mixing standard potting soil with coarse sand and perlite.
  • This plant is native to Mexico, and as such, does best in warm locals. While it can tolerate temperatures that fall as low as 20 degrees F, it should not be exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time. Hardiness zones for outdoor plants are 9a to 11b.
  • As with all succulents, Mexican Snowballs prefer full sun to partial shade; however, excessive exposure to direct sunlight should be avoided. Whether growing indoors or outdoors, choose a location that receives sunlight in the morning and late afternoon, but does not receive direct sunlight in the early- and mid-afternoon; particularly during the summer.
  • The same method of watering other types of succulents should be used to water Echeveria Elegans. They cannot tolerate long-term exposure to an abundant amount of water; however, they do not like to be dry for prolonged periods of time either. The “soak and dry” method should be used; in other words, only water when the soil is dry and the leaves have a shriveled appearance, and when watering, fully soak the soil.

We recommend Organic Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix

Propagating Echeveria Elegans

Mexican Gems can be propagated from both offsets and leaves.

Leaf Propagation

To propagate Echeveria Elegans from the leaves, select a healthy, firm leaf. To remove the leaf from the stem, use a twisting motion and gently, yet firm tug it from the stem of the plant. Be sure to remove all of the leaf from the stem; it’s okay if a bit of the stem remains on the leaf, however.

Once the leaf has been removed, let it sit for a period of a few days until a callous develops over the end of the leaf. Fill a container with well-draining soil and water it. Place the calloused-over leaf on top of the soil.

Water only when the soil is completely dried out. Once the roots have secured themselves into the soil, a rosette has developed, and the “mother leaf” (the leaf that was initially removed from the plant for propagation) has withered away, the new Echeveria Elegans can be replanted.

We love the look of Echeveria Elegans
We love the look of Echeveria Elegans

Offset Propagation

Mexican Snowballs produce small offsets that develop around the base of the plant. You can use these offsets to propagate new plants. To do so, just remove the offsets from the soil and set them aside to dry for a day or two.

Fill a container that features a drainage hole with well-draining soil (either pre-made succulent soil or substrate that you have mixed yourself), soak the soil, and plant the dried-out offset a shallow hole in the soil. The roots should be covered, but they should not be placed too deep in the soil.

Water the re-planted offsets when the soil appears to be fully dried out or when the leaves of the offset appear to be shriveled.

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Repotting or Ground-Planting Echeveria Elegans

Whether you are planting propagated or nursery-purchased Echeveria Elegans in a container or in the ground, make sure that the plant has gained an adequate amount of size before transplanting. Then, use the following tips to ensure successful planting:

  • Carefully remove the plant from the soil.
  • Remove any excess soil from the roots of the plant.
  • Inspect the roots. Remove any damaged or rotted roots from the plant.
  • Dig a shallow hole in well-draining soil that in a container that features a drainage hole or in the ground.
  • Wet the soil.
  • Place the plant in the hole container or ground and gently cover the roots with soil. Make sure that the roots aren’t buried too deep.

Echeveria ‘Melaco’, Rosette Succulent from Amazon

How to Care for Echeveria Elegans

While Mexican Snowballs are easy to care for, they do require proper care in order to maintain their health. Whether you’ve planted them indoors or out, use the following tips to properly care for your Echeveria Elegans.

Watering Echeveria Elegans

As with other types of succulents, Echeveria Elegans should be watered sporadically, but thoroughly. The “soak and dry” method is ideal for this plant. In other words, wait until the soil has dried out completely and the leaves have a shriveled appearance before watering.

When watering, completely soak the soil. How frequently you will need to water this plant depends on the specific location that it is being grown in. For example, during the winter months for both indoor and outdoor plantings, watering may only be required once a month, but during the warmer weather, indoor and outdoor plantings may need to be watered once a week or once every two weeks.

The best way to determine when your Echeveria Elegans will need to be watered is by keeping a close eye on it. When the leaves look as if they’re dried out, it’s time to water the plant. Avoid overwatering, as it can cause root rot and can ultimate drown and kill the plant.

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Fertilizing Echeveria Elegans

Generally, Mexican Snowballs do not require fertilizer; however, depending on the health of the soil, some additional nutrients may be beneficial. If you are adding fertilizer, however, don’t overdo it; adding too many nutrients can be detrimental to the plant.

Pruning and Grooming Echeveria Elegans

These plants are considered self-pruning. Other than removing dead blossoms and leaves every once in a while, extensive pruning and grooming is not required, which further adds to the ease of caring for this plant.

Pests and Insects

For the most part, Mexican Gems aren’t particularly prone to pest and insect infestations; however, as mentioned, aphids, mealybugs, and vine weevils can become a problem. If you notice these pests on your plant, you can either spray it down with water to loosen and disturb the pets or insects, or you can apply an insecticidal soil drench, which will pass into the plant, thus keeping these troublesome pests and insects at bay.

Do not apply an insecticide directly to the leaves of the plants. Doing so will disturb the waxy, whitish-gray coating on the leaves. This waxy coating is a natural protectant that prevents the leaves of the plant from being damaged by the sun.

Care in Cold Weather

Though Mexican Snowballs can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 to 50 degrees F, they are not considered cold-hardy. Therefore, if you live in a location where the temperature gets cold for prolonged periods of time and you’re keeping the plants outside, make sure that you move them to a warm location before the first frost sets in. An indoor location that is warm and receive adequate amounts of sunlight, such as a sunny window or a solarium would be ideal.

Summing It Up

Whether you call them Mexican Gems, Mexican Snowballs, or their scientific name, Echeveria Elegans, these plants make a beautiful addition to an outdoor garden and do well planted in containers that are kept indoors, too. However you intend on planting them, it’s important that you follow proper growing and care tips. Though they are a relatively low-maintenance plant, in order to ensure the health of the plant, proper care is vital.

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Hollie Carter

Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at hollie@gardenbeast.com or follow on twitter https://twitter.com/greenholliec

1 Comment

  1. A deer came along and ate all the flowers off my Mexican Snowball, do I need to do anything like cut the long stem back or just leave it be?

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