If you want a bit of drama in your garden the succulent we're going to talk about today will deliver in more ways than one. Echeveria afinnis 'Black Knight' is certainly a showstopper and will stand out amongst all the other plants.
Contrary to popular belief, the Black Knight is not a hybrid created by crossbreeding but a bit of a mutant. It's a form of Echeveria affinis that has developed dark colored leaves and is native to Mexico.
The Black Knight forms a rosette shape that can grow to approximately 15 cm/ 6" in width and height. The rosettes can open and close depending on their growing environment and can sometimes seem a bit bigger, especially when they are in their growing season.
This succulent forms clusters, though, from my experience offsets may not always come up and it's not unusual for the rosette to be solitary. When clusters do form the overall size can increase to about 20cm/8" in diameter.
The leaves are long and pointy with white tips. They can also get quite fleshy when the plant is a bit stressed. There's a very fine, almost undetectable coating of the white powdery substance called the Farina. It acts like a sunscreen for succulents but, because there's so little, the leaves appear quite shiny.
The colour can change during different seasons and will also largely depend on the plant's growing conditions. During the warmer months and when the Black Knight is actively growing, green is very likely to dominate the centre of the rosettes. But when the succulent is stressed by either and/ or cold, restricted rood space or drought it is likely to grow a dramatic dark chocolate colour.
The Black Knight has gorgeous red flowers that usually come up on a tall stalk around winter time, though this can vary depending on where in the world you are. They last two to three weeks and can be used as a cut flower.
Echeveria Black Knight is a sun lover and will need a certain amount of sunlight to grow well. It will tolerate filtered light outdoors but it is likely to grow leggy and, with minimal colour. Moreover, it will be susceptible to fungal disease and sunburn if it suddenly moved in direct sun.
Black Knight is not a good indoor plant and will start to struggle in a month or so as it's simply not bright enough in an average house for this succulent. It is more likely than not that echeveria Black Knight would eventually die indoors. You'd need a lot of direct sun or plant growing lights to keep it alive inside.
This succulent can be grown in pots as well as frost free gardens. In the garden it has to be planted where water doesn't pool after rain. Raised gardens or slopes are ideal.
The best potting medium for succulents in pots is a good quality succulent potting mix. It should have the right pH, good drainage and will ensure your Black Knight grows well. In the garden these succulents will grow best if a bit of potting mix is mixed in with the soil to break it apart and help the thin roots spread.
When it comes to watering, this is where Echeveria Black Knight can bring a bit of drama into your gardening world. This succulent does not tolerate frequent rain and over watering well.
It's highly susceptible to all kinds of water related issues including fungal disease such as rot or powdery mildew and splitting leaves. I'd highly recommend to keep it under cover, control the watering and only water when the potting mix is completely dried out from the previous watering.
Temperature wise, the Black Knight grows best in frost-free parts of the world but may cope during light frosts. When exposed to frost for longer periods, it can suffer from burns. If snow and frost is normal during winter in your climate, it may be best to bring this succulent indoors for the duration.
In summer, during heatwaves potted plants should be placed in shade or under shade cloth as the Black Knight will suffer sunburn when in very hot direct sun.
Echeveria Black Knight can be propagated from leaves and cuttings. It should also grow from seed but this propagation method can be unreliable and seeds can take a very long time to become a fully grown plant.
When you want to create lots of new plants leaf propagation is the way to go. The success rate is decent enough when done during the right time, which is Spring or Summer, when not too hot.
To pull leaves off simply gently tuck to the side you'll want the whole leaf to come away from the stove without breaking it. Leaves can then be placed either straight on top of potting mix or left in a tray in a dry bright spot until new growth and roots appear.
New growth should appear within about three weeks of the leaf being pulled off. It is unlikely leaves will grow well during winter, especially if your climate is cold.
For more instant results cuttings can also be propagated fairly easily. Bigger or smaller rosettes will grow well. After cutting them off with a clean pair of scissors leave the cuttings to dry for a day so the wound heals. This will prevent any diseases getting into the plant through the fresh cut.
I would highly recommend starting Black Knight leaves and cuttings in succulent potting mix even if the plan is to plant them in the garden. Roots should appear within two to three weeks. Best time to propagate cuttings is spring and summer but, if you don't get frost in winter, early autumn is good too. During heatwaves make sure the cuttings are shaded from super strong sun.
Another reason I prefer not to grow Echeveria Black Knight a lot is because it's an unbelievable mealybug magnet.
But that's not all- aphids, slugs, snails, caterpillars and grasshoppers all love to include this succulent in their diet. When growing the Black Knight frequent pest checks and control is a must as they can easily cause an outbreak amongst your other succulents too.
Echeveria Black Knight is a safe non-toxic succulent to have around pets and little humans. Despite there being no toxic properties to this succulent we do not recommend eating it.