Whenever I see my lovely urns planted with succulents I will think fondly of the gardens of Portland! On my recent trip attending the Garden Blogger Fling I was inspired by all the lovely container filled with cacti and succulents that we saw at so many of the gardens we visited. Portland has a very temperate nearly Mediterranean climate. That was a surprise to me! Ever since I got home I have had the desire to add more art and containers of succulents to my garden. Succulents are difficult to grow in our clay soil. But if you put them in containers they are fine except during a hard freeze, when they will need protecting. While looking for annuals to put in a few gardens we were doing maintenance on, I found these wonderful urns.
A few days later I found these fun succulents. Echeveria runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’ – a succulent from family Crassulaceae (Stonecrops) native to semi-desert areas of Central America, from Mexico to NW South America. The genus Echeveria is a large genus of flowering plants, species, runyonii. It is sometimes called Mexican Hen and Chicks. It was named by past Huntington Botanic Garden Director Myron Kimnack. The genus Echeveria is named after the 18th century Mexican botanical artist Atonasio Echeverria y Godoy in 1828 by the French botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle (DeCandolle) who was very impressed with Echeverría’s drawings. The correct pronunciation for the genus is ek-e-ve’-ri-a, though ech-e-ver’-i-a seems more prevalent in the US.
Topsy Turvy is a fast growing rosette-forming succulent with thick silver-blue leaves that curve upwards with inverted tips pointing back towards the center of the plant. The individual rosettes can grow about 6 inches tall and as large as 1 foot across. It multiplies by sending pups out around the base and grows in a mounding formation. It flowers on long arching stalks that rise above the foliage with apricot coral blooms in late summer or early fall. It is hardy down to 25° F, some sources say even colder. I think it best to cover them here in Houston or better yet move them inside during a hard freeze.
Echeveria prefers medium water. It is important not to let the soil dry out completely or get so wet the roots rot. When watering water the soil not the rosettes. Over or under watering can both lead to wilting, shriveling and dropping of leaves. Observing your plant while you get the watering right is important.
Like most Echeveria Topsy Turvy is shallow rooted and needs well drained soil. I have read that “sandy” in the soil requirements for succulents simply means that the soil needs to drain well. If you do add actual sand to your soil, make sure that it is coarse grained. Fine sand will clog the air pockets in the soil. Fertilizer is not a continual requirement for Echeverias. These succulents grow natively in soil without a lot of nutrients.
Echeverias like light similar to what they’re used to in their native growing grounds. They thrive in full sun but can tolerate light shade. However, try to avoid drastic changes in sunlight and summer afternoon full sun. Even though my porch faces west the late afternoon sun is blocked by very tall Sycamore trees. When moving plants from lower light conditions (indoor to outdoors) into full sun, be wary of sun scorch, most easily avoided by ensuring plants are well-watered before moving them on a cloudy day. The more light a plant gets the better it will display its colors and shape.
I have put mine in lovely tall urns that flank top front step.
Yesterday the Texas Native Plant Society posted this beautiful picture on Facebook. It is an Echeveria native to the Big Bend region of Texas. According to Michael Eason the photographer that took this picture this is the only species of this genus found in the United States, and is only found in Presidio, Jeff Davis and Brewster Counties. I wonder where I could find one for sale?
For more information and native locations: