Echeveria Elegans also known as the Mexican Snowball is a succulent plant native to, as the name suggests, Mexico. It is very popular and widespread due to its attractive rosettes and hardiness.
Although Echeveria Elegans is a hardy succulent, there are a few things to know about this plant. The advice below is based on growing many thousands of these succulents in my nursery Fern Farm Plants.
Echeveria Elegans is a medium sized succulent that will grow approximately 15cms in diameter and 15cm height. The plant grows low to the ground and does not produce a tall stem stem.
The light blue, icy leaves are covered in a dusting of a protective farina and arranged in a rounded rosette shape. This gives the plant its nickname. Spherical in shape and quite thick, the leaves can also form an appearance of a round ball.
In winter the whole appearance a bit more ball-like as the rosette closes up and grows more compact due to the cold. During the growing season, it opens up, growing flat.
The colour of the leaves can change with the weather. The biggest influencing factor is the cold and it is not unusual for Echeveria Elegans to grow pink on the back of its leaves, especially on the lower part of the rosette. This colouring usually disappears once the weather starts getting warmer.
Echeveria Elegans has a clumping habit. The offsets/chicks start forming in autumn. A mature rosette can produce 10 or more offsets every year.
Echeveria Elegans also produces lovely flowers. They usually start appearing in winter and continue growing through spring. The flowers come up on a high stalk and are bell shaped. The colour is yellow- orange.
Position & Care
Echeveria Elegans ‘Mexican Snowball’ is quite an easy succulent to look after. It will grow in pots as well as the ground and will tolerate a range of conditions.
Just like most Echeveria, Echeveria Elegans is not suitable to be grown as an indoor plant and will need a minimum of 4 hours sun exposure per day followed by bright light. The only way this succulent can be grown indoors is with the help of professional plant growing lights or if you have a sunroom.
If grown indoors for too long, Elegans is likely to start stretching towards the window and the bottom leaves are likely to fall off. Eventually, the whole plant will very probably die.
If grown in pots good quality succulent potting mix should be used and the plant will need repotting once it has outgrown the pot so it can reach its full size and produce offsets. An upgrade to a slightly bigger pot every spring will result in a big and offset-prolific plant.
In the ground, Elegans will grow just about anywhere, though better the soil larger and nicer the plant. For instance, it will survive in poor quality soil, but is unlikely to produce many offsets. If potting mix is mixed through to improve the soil, Elegans is likely to grow to its full size and grow an abundance of offsets year on year.
Although the Mexican Snowball is endemic to semi desert regions of Mexico, it copes surprisingly well with water and rain. Our nursery Elegans are grown outdoors all year round, even if it rains a lot. Surprisingly, they grow incredibly well and are not susceptible to rot or fungal disease. Having said that, it is good to follow the usual advice on watering succulents- leave the potting mix to dry out between waterings.
Echeveria Elegans can suffer a bit during extreme heatwaves where temperatures go over 35C/95F. If these kinds of temperatures are common in your part of the world, it is best to move Elegans to a morning sun-afternoon shade position or under shadecloth. Plants grown in the ground should be able to deal with heatwaves without protection, though some leaves may get burn marks.
Despite its nickname, the Mexican Snowball is also not frost tolerant and will, therefore, need to be either brought in the house or a greenhouse while he weather is frosty outdoors.
It will be fine outdoors to about 1C/33.8F. As soon as the freezing point is reached, the water in the Elegans will start freezing too, eventually killing the plant.
If planted in the ground it is possible to protect this succulent with a frost cloth. To read how to keep succulents alive in winter, see another one of our posts here.
Echeveria Elegans is best propagated by offsets as they are both plentiful and easy to separate once they have grown a stalk.
The offsets should be ready to propagate by the end of Spring but it is important to not try and propagate in winter, even if the offsets have a stalk then as they can rot in winter. If propagated in Spring, the offsets will grow roots fast.
Elegans is can be tricky to propagate from a leaf and in most instances, the leaf dies before producing a new plant.
Seed propagation is possible but not advisable. It can be very hard to source good quality seeds and even if the plants germinate, they will take a couple of years before the plant reaches a decent enough size.
A lot of pests can attack the Mexican Snowball. The usual suspects (Aphids & Mealybugs) do like feeding on this succulent. Aphids usually start appearing in autumn, winter (in warm-moderate climates) and spring. These little, sap sucking insects particularly like feeding on the flowers and can invade over a couple of days.
Mealybugs make an appearance once it starts getting warmer and they can attack both, leaves and roots. Aphids particularly like the flowers and can swamp the stalks and also start sucking on the rosettes below.
Slugs and snails also like the Elegans quite a bit and can make holes in the leaves.
Caterpillars, Grasshoppers and bigger, succulent eating animals can also have a go.
Echeveria Elegans is listed as non toxic to humans, cats, dogs and other pets. We would however strongly discourage you from trying to eat one.
Where Can I Buy It?
The Mexican Snowball should be a fairly easy succulent to find. If your local succulent nursery does not sell it, online nurseries sure will.
Our nursery Fern Farm Plants sells this plant in Australia here.