A friend recently asked me to recommend the perfect house plant for her needs. She needed something low maintenance, able to thrive in minimum sunlight and non-toxic to pets, since she was planning on getting a kitten. My first thought was a moth orchid because it reminded me of her (don’t ask how). But in the end, a few days later, I bought her an Echeveria succulent, even though I haven’t given it to her yet.
Big difference, you might say, but this is a plant she will love and, for me, buying it brought back memories.
See, I had my own Echeveria some time back, but my biggest mistake was the same as in any other relationship where you have found your perfect match, but only realise it when it’s already gone.
I didn’t cry, but I was pretty heartbroken when I realised that this was a plant for a neglectful owner. All they need is a watering once every 10 days or so (since they stash water in their leaves, roots and stems) and a good view of the sun (not more than six hours in a brightly lit area; no direct sunlight, because that will lead to sunburn and we all know how that feels).
But I didn’t know that back then. I treated it like the other plants I had and pampered it and watered it daily. It got sick and died from TLC and flooding.
Succulents are very beautiful and you can find them in just about every colour of the rainbow. They are pest resistant and adaptable, and you can use their cuttings to grow new plants. You can even neglect them for a while and they will love you anyway.
They’re usually found in sandy or gritty soil and prefer that kind of soil when they’re potted. You’ll need a pot with a drainage hole at the bottom to help the roots breathe.
Most importantly – take it from me – you need to pay attention to the tips of the leaves because when succulents are sick they start showing it there, either by changing colour or starting to look dull.
Don’t be shy to combine different breeds in one container that require the same parenting method, but be warned that they have a smiling effect on humans.
So, all things considered, Echeveria was perfect for my friend. According to me, these belong in the House Plant Hall of Fame.