I am aware that I have not written many posts about cacti or succulents. The omission is due, not to any lack of interest in the plants but simply because, having moved around in the last few years and having to concentrate on the house and then the making of the new garden my attention has been elsewhere. But times, they are a changing. So I recently dipped my toe in the water again with the purchase of a few echeverias.
The first, and probably the best-loved and admired of all, is ‘Duchess of Nuremberg’, with big, beautiful rosettes in a desirable combination of grey and pink. Just to spoil everything it has many other names, including ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ and ‘Gloire de Nurenberg’. I suspect that one of the German names is more correct since it was raised by German nurseryman Alfred Graser (my apologies for the constant lack of umlauts) in the 1930s, possibly in Perleberg. It is also said that the raiser was Richard or Rudolf Graessner. And just to add to the confusion it is thought that three different plants were introduced with the same name, a blue plant, a grey plant and a reddish plant – who knows what the one is that we know today! Whatever, the plant we know today is a gem and popular as a windowsill plant and as a summer container plant. It is a hybrid of E. gibbiflora ‘Metallica’ and E. potosina, though both have suffered name changes.
Echeveria lilacina is commonly known as the ghost echeveria and is native to northern Mexico. Like all these ‘bloomed’ echeverias, it needs careful handling or you leave marks on the leaves.
‘Dark Prince’ should be a lot darker than this but, since I got it, the poor thing has been waiting, in part shade’ for more attention. In good light it is very dark, though usually with a green centre, but on a windowsill it looks more like this. It is apparently a hybrid of Echeveria shaviana and Echeveria affinis but I can’t see the influence of the former parent – see below.
This echeveria is a much nicer plant (to my eyes) and the thin, crinkly leaves develop a red edge when the plant is dry and in sun. The relatively tall stems of flowers are produced in summer. In the wild it is a neighbour of E. lilacina.
No prizes for guessing that this is Mexican too. It is a smaller echeveria with very thick leaves and, when stressed a bit, it develops pink tips.
Of course, none of these are hardy here, though, there is always a chance they will take low temperatures, even below 0c if the plants are bone dry. They are easy to propagate by leaf cuttings. Simply pull off a leaf, possibly giving it a twist so it comes off complete, and lay it on the surface of barely moist, gritty compost. Within a few weeks, as they start to shrivel, they will produce roots and then a tiny plant that can be potted and grown on. Apart from mealy bugs, the worst pest of these is the dreaded vine weevil which will eat the roots.