Echeveria Romeo is one of those 'unicorn' succulents people just have to have. And it is no wonder as it is also one of the most beautiful Echeveria out there.
Romeo can be quite hard to get and expensive (less so now than it was a couple of years back). It is no wonder some succulent lovers try and propagate their plants from leaves, because having one Romeo is just not enough.
Some succulents are easier to propagate than others and Echeveria Agavoides Romeo belongs to the ‘others’. The rosettes are usually solitary and if they do produce pups, it is not many. But is there another way to propagate this plant?
Unfortunately, Echeveria Romeo is quite hard to propagate in every way and leaves are no exception. We have tried with as many as 100 leaves and the results were quite disappointing. Only about 4 leaves grew new plants but the great majority eventually died.
If you would like to take your chances nonetheless, and give leaf propagation a go, read on.
Romeo is a plant every succulent lover wants in their collection. The pink, shiny leaves arranged in a rosette shape create a visual delight.
Echeveria Romeo (not to be confused with Echeveria Rubin) is a mutation of another agavoides Echeveria. Mutations in succulents are not unusual and we have them happening often as well. Thankfully this mutation occurred at a nursery where the potential of the plant was realized. It was multiplied (very likely by tissue culture) and shared with the rest of the world.
Romeo can grow to approximately 15cms in diameter as a mostly solitary rosette. Pups can occur but from experience, it varies from one plant to another. To date we've raised close to a 1000 Romeos and had various results. Some plants never grew offsets, some had a couple.
The leaves are pointy and look like they have been polished to shine. This is quite typical for agavoides Echeveria. The colour of the whole plant will change depending on many factors such as the seasons, temperature, sun exposure, pot size and so on.
The biggest influencer are the seasons. In the warmer months Romeo will be a light pink with a bit of green, turning deep pink with almost burgundy edges once the temperatures start to drop.
Position & Care
Romeo can be quite a challenging plant to keep. It likes a bright spot- morning sun followed by afternoon shade or filtered light throughout the day under 30% shade cloth. Romeo is not suitable for growing indoors, unless it is for overwintering during freezing temperatures.
Depending on where in the world you are, you can even have Romeo out in full sun all day when the sun is mild. Our summers here in Australia usually include quite a few heatwaves and so the Romeo needs a bit of extra protection from the harsh sun. We keep our Romeos in a greenhouse with 30% shade factor and hard cover to keep the rain out for most of the year.
In winter, however, when it’s around 16-22C (60.8-71.6F) during the day we keep all our Romeos out in full sun to get the best colour possible. Once the temperatures start heading north of 27C (80.6F) a 30% shade-cloth is pulled over as the foliage can sustain burns.
Echeveria Romeo is also not frost tolerant and will need to be protected from on winter. It will tolerate temperatures to about 1C (33.8F). When the mercury is expected to dip below the freezing point, Romeo will need to be either moved indoors, in the brightest spot of the house or a greenhouse good enough to keep the frost out.
When it comes to watering, Romeo is little difficult and sensitive. Some plants may develop fungal disease or ugly black spots even when the humidity is high. If Romeo is left out during rainy spells, it can even rot and die. A day or two after of rain will, however, not hurt it (so long the potting mix is allowed to dry between the rainy days).
I would recommend keeping this plant under cover where watering can be controlled. When you do water, make sure it is done properly- do not spray the foliage. A deep soak every other week will keep Romeo happy. Make sure the potting mix is completely dry before watering again.
The potting mix should be a well-draining, good quality succulent potting mix. You can always add pumice or perlite to improve drainage.
The most important thing when it comes to propagating any plant is to do it in the growing season- spring is always best. As mentioned above, propagating Romeo is difficult. There are 4 ways you can try- separating offsets (if you’re lucky enough to get any), by leaves, beheading and seeds.
All four methods are unreliable and have low success rate. You can watch a video I made on leaf propagation of Echeveria Romeo.
Seeds can be purchased, but make sure you are buying from a reputable seller. If the seeds do germinate, it may take an extra long time to get any decent size plants (well over a year). But its a fun project a succulent enthusiast may enjoy.
Beheading can work quite well, though, it is important to leave a few leaves at the bottom of the rosette, but also make the cut low enough so the top of the rosette does not fall apart. Low growing plants like Romeo can be hard to behead without destroying the plant. You can read more on beheading succulents here.
But if Romeo is so difficult to propagate how come nurseries can have large quantities available, you may wonder. Plants like Romeo (and increasingly all other plants) are produced in nurseries from Tissue Cultures. These are tiny little plants grown in specialist labs under sterile conditions, with the help of growth hormones. If you’d like to learn more about Tissue Culture plants you can search the term in your web browser- there are many great articles describing the process.
Our nursery also uses tissue cultures as it is often the only way of getting a particular plant in decent numbers.
There are a number of pests to look out for. Echeveria Romeo is a favourite of the mealy bugs. They can spotted easily as they leave white lines on the leaves. To read more about mealy bugs, click here.
Aphids, slugs, snails, caterpillars & grasshoppers can also take a bite. We have another article on succulent pests here.
Romeo is not toxic to humans, cats or dogs but we would not recommend eating this plant. If any is digested by accident, do keep an eye and see a doctor if any adverse effects occur. All Echeveria are said to be non-poisonous.
Where Can I Get It
Echeveria Romeo can be a hard plant to find, especially out of the growing season. If your favourite succulent nursery does not have these try searching online nurseries, eBay or Amazon. Where possible, check the reviews.
Our online nursery Fern Farm Plants sells small Romeos here.