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Echeveria First Lady – Everything You Need to Know

by gardeningit
Echeveria First Lady

When it comes to pretty cacti, Echeveria First lady is not one to be missed. This adorable little plant has grey-green ruffled leaves that look delicate but are fairly tough. They have a waxy layer on top which not only makes them shiny and beautiful but also protects them from environmental damage. What’s even more amazing is that the leaves turn bright pinkish-red when given the proper care and exposed to moderate amounts of sunlight.

Classification

Family: Crassulaceae

Subfamily: Sempervivoideae

Genus: Echeveria

About the Echeveria Genus

Echeverias are a large family of succulent plants that were first discovered in 1828. They were named after a Mexican botanical artist called Atanasio Echeverria Godoy. These plants are found in the dry zones and warm areas of the world because of their desert origins. They are very commonly used as ornamental garden plants because of their adorable, unique looks.

This particular genus has been cultivated and bred hundreds of times and has many rare subspecies falling under its umbrella. Echeveria First Lady is one of these hybrid species.

Common Names and Synonyms of Echeveria First Lady

  • Echeveria Crinoline Ruffles
  • Ruffled Echeveria
  • Hen and Chicks

Origin and Distribution

These plants are native to Texas, Mexico, and North, South, and Central America and are mostly found in the dry areas of this distribution due to their preference of dry, warm desert-like habitats.

Structure and Features of Echeveria First Lady

Foliage

The leaves are not fuzzy, instead, they are powdery. They have a waxy surface which serves as a protective barrier against extreme or harsh environments like hail, excessive rain, and scorching heat.

Evergreen

Like most Echeveria succulents, under good care, these plants are evergreen, which means that they stay healthy and pretty-looking all year long. This particular feature makes them ideal for displaying and decorating around the house or outdoors.

Height

They grow as tall as 9 to 12 inches and spread the same as well. This one is particularly taller than most of its fellow Echeverias.

Temperature Tolerance

Being a desert-loving plant, it thrives in warmer temperatures and is not easily damaged by extremely hot climates. However, it is not very fond of the cooler temperatures so it is suggested that you move the plant indoors if it starts to get too chilly outside.

Flowers

The First Lady blooms in spring and summer and grows beautiful orange flowers that appear on tall stalks. A blooming Echeveria First Lady is a sight worth seeing.

Drought-resistance

One of the most favorable features of a houseplant is its resistance to lack of water and this plant wins at that. It originates from the deserts so it has a high water-conserving capacity which means that if you forget to water it or have to leave town for a bit, it will be fine on its own.

Disease resistance

Even though it is a tough, waxy plant, First Lady is not entirely free of botanical enemies. Bugs, insects, and fungi are unfortunately a common cause of death among this specie.
To prevent this from happening, make sure you water your plant moderately. Do not overwater it, as that is what causes fungal growth. Also, make sure your soil is well-drained and there is no water is sitting in it.

Mulching your plant is also a good way to avoid pests and weed from attacking your plant.
If your plant catches bugs, like spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs, use neem oil and alcohol as natural remedies. If you need something even stronger, use insecticides and pesticides for extra help. Just make sure you don’t damage the plant by using too much of these chemicals.

Maintenance

Given that it does not require a lot of regular watering, feeding, and grooming, Echeveria First Lady is a fairly low maintenance plant.

Durability

These plants are extremely durable if given the particular Echeveria First Lady care. They have a perennial life cycle so they will last you looking fresh and healthy for years and decades on end. This is another big reason why it is so in demand for display purposes.

Growth

Like most succulents, this one is a fairly slow-growing plant as well. However, its growth rate depends on multiple factors like how healthy it is, its age, environment, and the climate it is growing in.

Toxicity

Even though the plant itself is not toxic, it is advised to be kept out of the reach of children and pets because its waxy leaves are not easily digested if eaten. Plus, any poisonous chemicals, dust, and insects on the surface of the plant can be dangerous for humans and animals alike.

Pollination

First Lady is not a self-pollinating plant. It attracts hummingbirds and flowers yearly. So, it produces offsets all year long.

Echeveria First Lady Care

As all Echeveria Pure Love and Fleur Blanc, this one loves bright lights and warm temperatures too. It has some particular, but not troubling water needs and is overall very easy to take care of. Its low maintenance is one of the many reasons people love it as a houseplant.

Water Requirements

This plant’s watering needs are fairly low, especially after maturation. Use the “soak and dry” method to water it, meaning that once you thoroughly water the plant, make sure it is completely dry before you water it again. It could be days, even weeks before that happens which is fine. Just stay away from overwatering it. Also, avoid using sprays and opt for a watering can with a narrow nozzle so you can control the amount of water that goes into the soil and make sure that it does directly and only into the soil. Moisture on a succulent’s leaves is not a good thing. It can cause fungal growth and dramatically slows down the growth of the plant.      

Soil Requirements

Well-drained soil with a neutral pH and a dry, sandy texture is suggested to grow this plant in. However, it can thrive in slightly acidic or slightly alkaline soil as well. Just make sure your pot has appropriate size and numbers of holes in it so it can drain the excess water properly and there is no water sitting in the pot. As we discussed earlier, this can potentially damage and even kill the plant. Do not put rocks at the bottom of your pot either. They can store water and cause excess moisture in the soil.

Sunlight Requirements

Echeverias love well-lit, bright environments. They can thrive in full as well as partial shade. Make sure they get enough light to grow healthy but not so much that the leaves start to burn. Use a shade cloth if you have to put them outdoors in direct sunlight and use artificial growing lights if you don’t get enough sunlight indoors.

Temperature Requirements

Warm temperatures are a favorite of the First Lady as they have been trained by the nature to live in hot, dry climates. However, the plant is sensitive to cold temperatures and can easily die if exposed to temperatures lower than 5 degrees Celsius. So, it is advised to shift the plant indoors or to a warmer spot if the temperature starts to drop outside.      

Fertilizer Requirements

The Echeveria First Lady does not require a lot of regular fertilizing when matured. However, in its growing phase, the optimum amount of fertilizer can prove to be very beneficial for its fast and healthy growth. Dilute and organic fertilizers are especially beneficial for this purpose.

Re-potting

When it comes to re-potting the plant, it is ideal to re-pot them annually, preferably every spring or summer when they start to bloom. However, several other factors play a role in deciding when the plant should be repotted, for example, its growth, the health of the plant, the size of the plant, the size of the pot, the environment it is kept in, and the care it is being given.

Just make sure that when you repot the point, the new pot is bigger than the old one and the soil that you put the plant in is optimum, if not ideal, for succulent growth.

Grooming and Mulching

Even though the Echeveria First Lady does not need regular grooming it is beneficial to make sure that the roots and the lower leaves of the plant are healthy and do not contain any bugs or fungal growth. And to make sure that this does not happen, mulching with sand and gravel is a very good way of protecting your plant against any possible weed and insect attacks.

Echeveria First Lady Propagation

It is very easy to propagate an Echeveria succulent. Follow the steps below to propagate your plant in no time.

  • Simply cut a leaf or remove a flower from a mature First Lady plant.
  • Fill an unglazed, clay pot with a suitable soil mix and dig a small hole with your finger.
  • Now put the flower in the hole and press the soil around it.
  • Put it in bright, indirect light, water it in moderate amounts and frequency, and protect it from strong winds and dangerous pests.

Timeline

Week 1-4: After you have potted the plant, give it regular water and fertilizer. You may especially need to water it more if it is being kept indoors.

Week 4-6: As small roots start to grow and the leaf you used to propagate a new plant, dries up, you will see a new plant growing next to it.

Months 2-5: This new plant will start growing into a ruffled, rubbery flower with grey-green leaves.

6 months-1 year: By now, your new First Lady plant will be growing into a mature rosette with green, waxy leaves, and pink-red margins.

Some Common FAQs

My Echeveria First Lady is Elongating and Growing Taller and Taller. What Should I Do?

Succulents tend to grow too tall for many reasons, some of which are lack of sunlight or just the basic genetics of the plant. If you feel like it is growing too tall for your liking, you can behead the plant and re-pot it.

Here is you how can do that:

Gently pull the stem of the plant and remove it from the pot. Shift the plant to a bigger pot and trim the excess growth with a clean, sharp pair of scissors. Fill the new pot with succulent soil mix and press the soil around the stem. Now water the plant as per routine.

My Plant Was Delivered Dry. What Should I Do?

Easy! You water them. Don’t panic. Succulent plants are packaged completely dry so by the time they get delivered, they can look pretty pale and unhealthy. Simply put your plant in the pot you had prepared for it and water it as frequently as it needs. It will freshen up in no time.

What Kind of Potting Material is Best for This Echeveria Succulent?

There are many options available, for example, plastic, clay, ceramic, wood, glass, metal, etc, but all of these have their pros and cons.

Plastic pots are cheap, lightweight, and durable, so they are a good choice to pot a succulent in if it has holes for drainage.

Clay pots are especially recommended to pot these plants. They are breathable and they dry quickly, allowing the soil to dry properly.

Ceramic pots are beautiful but not as breathable, so they are not a great option for plants that require dry soil for ideal growth.

Both wood and glass, look beautiful and are fairly breathable but wood rots and cracks over time and repetitive exposure to moisture and glass pots tend to be high maintenance in the sense that they can break easily.

Metal pots are a definitive no-no! They are not breathable, can rust, and easily overheat in warm temperatures and under direct sun.

As concluded plastic and clay pots are the best way to go to plant succulents.

Uses and Display

As we have established, this plant can be grown both indoors and outdoors. And because of its beautiful features, it can also be displayed both indoors and outdoors. Its beautiful ruffled leaves make it ideal for decorating shelves, desks, and window sills.

It can be displayed as an individual plant, in the form of clusters or amongst a group of other plants. It can be put in containers, in rock gardens

Final Thoughts

The Echeveria First Lady is a rare flowering succulent that is native to mainly Mexico and North America. These plants can be grown indoors as well as outdoors under moderate light and temperatures. If given the proper care and protection against pests and fungus, they can last you for decades. This makes them perfect for decorations and to give someone as a gift.

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