Echeveria Mexican Giant can only be described as a stunner. This large growing cultivar can indeed grow giant in comparison to most echeverias. As the name suggests, the Mexican Giant comes from Mexico though it is unclear if this plant is a man-made hybrid or if it’s endemic to Mexico. Let’s have a closer look at this beauty and how to care for it.
Echeveria Mexican Giant has large, and fleshy leaves that are very thick. They are also pointy and can range from white to pinky/ light purple when the plant is stressed by cold, sun or lack of root space. The white powdery coating that covers the leaves is called farina and protects the plant from harsh sun.
The Mexican Giant rosettes are stemless and grow to approximately 30cm height and over 40cm in diameter in good conditions.
The plant has a clumping habit and offsets usually appear in mature plants, in Spring. Echeveria Mexican Giant is not exactly generous with its offsets and mostly produces only about 3-4 pups per year. In comparison many other Echeverias can pop out over 10. It is unusual for young Mexican Giants to grow pups. The plant needs to be a couple of years old at least and some 15cms or more in size.
Flower stalks appear at the end of winter or spring (depending on your climate) and are yellow/pink. The stalks are quite thin and not very strong which can result in the flowers falling to the ground or into the rosette. We mostly cut them off so the farina is not disturbed.
Echeveria Mexican Giant is a surprisingly hardy succulent and can be grown in the garden (if you live in a frost free climate) or pots. In the garden it will tolerate poor soils, but if you want a nice big plant it won’t hurt mixing a general purpose potting mix in with the garden dirt. In pots good succulent potting mix should be used for best results.
Because the Mexican Giant can get quite big it is a good idea to upgrade the pot once or twice a year to allow the extra growth and offset production. Take care with the thick leaves as they are prone to breaking when handled. Also try not to touch unnecessarily so the white farina is not disturbed.
The best position for this plant is sun for most of the day as this will help the growth to be compact and not stretchy. Morning sun and afternoon shade is also ok. During heatwaves of over 35C (95F) there is a possibility the foliage can burn in direct sun and so it’s best to protect your plants with shade-cloth or by moving out of direct sun. Our nursery plants happily grow even in a heat of over 40C (104F) but they are protected by 30% shade-cloth which, to a degree, stops the harmful UV rays. During the cooler months the Mexican Giant will give you the best colours in full sun.
The Mexican Giant is not frost hardy and will need to be either brought in the house or a greenhouse (if you have one this is the best option) when temperatures start sinking below the freezing point. If overwintering indoors, choose the brightest possible location that will get the maximum sun.
This plant is not suitable to be grown permanently indoors unless it’s in a sun-room.
Echeveria Mexican Giant is not particularly sensitive to water and so can be left outdoors in the rain. It is important that the potting mixed used is well-draining otherwise the plant will rot. In the garden plant on a slope or in raised bed so water can run off easily.
To propagate Echeveria Mexican Giant you will need to wait for offsets to form. As mentioned above more mature plants will grow approximately 3 or so offsets per year. Do not be hasty when taking them off the mother plant and wait until they are at least 5 or more cms in diameter. Ideally they should have a small stalk that can be cut through.
Another, slightly more drastic way to propagate is by beheading the plant. With this method the top of the rosette is cut off, leaving a few leaves on the root end. The rosette which has been cut will then need to be dried for a day and replanted as a cutting in a succulent potting mix. The root end is left undisturbed and it should eventually grow new plants from where the top was cut. It is not guaranteed that new pups will indeed grow and if you are uncomfortable with this method do not do it and wait for the offsets to appear naturally.
Echeverias can also be raised from seed and we have seen Mexican Giant seeds available for sale. If patience is your virtue you can certainly give this a go. It can, however, take years before the plant grows to over 10cms in diameter.
The best time to propagate is mid-late spring when the danger of frosts have passed.
Unfortunately there is a whole score of pests that can attack the Mexican Giant.
Mealy bugs can nestle themselves in the leaves as well as roots and can be hard to spot because of the powder white coating. It is very important mealy bugs are dealt with immediately as they can cause a lot of damage and spread to other plants. If only a couple are present, they can be squashed by a toothpick. If there is an infestation, 70% isopropyl alcohol can be poured over them.
Aphids can also attack, though they are not that keen on Mexican Giants. The only time they almost always appear is when the plant flowers as aphids like to feed on the flower stalks. Pyrethrum based spray or a squash will quickly deal with these little pests.
Snails, slugs, grasshoppers and caterpillars can also feed on the leaves. While they are unlikely to completely destroy the plant, the damage can be quite significant and noticeable.
Larger animals such as deer, possums, birds and even kangaroos may raze these plants to the ground. Here in Australia we have particularly succulent hungry possums but have planted spiky Agaves in our succulent gardens. Seems to work and possums are not able to get to the plants behind them. Where deer are present, deterrents can be bought to spray around your gardens.
Echeveria Mexican Giant is listed as non-toxic to humans dogs, cats and other pets, but we do not recommend eating them.
It is unlikely that garden centres will stock these and so head to a specialist nursery or search online nurseries/ eBay/ Amazon. If you’re in Australia our small nursery has Mexican Giants in stock from time to time.