Echeveria Ebony Care & Propagation

Echeveria Ebony is a popular Agavoides cultivar with pointy edges. It is a great collectable succulent that will reward you with a fantastic display of colour in the cooler months or when the plant is stressed. 

Ebony can be quite expensive as it is not one of those succulents that grow fast or spread prolifically. Below we will discuss how to care for this plant and what would be the best way to propagate. But first let's have a look at some of its characteristics.

Description

Echeveria Ebony is a type of an Agavoide Echeveria. As with most Agavoides, it has pointy, shiny leaves and grows in a rosette shape. The colour of the leaves will change throughout the year and when the plant is stressed (either rootbound or kept dry) or in the cooler months, the edges of each leaf will turn dark red/burgundy/almost black creating a spectacular show. In the warmer months, Ebony is mostly light green. 

Echeveria Ebony is often confused with Echeveria Lipstick. Lipstick also turns dark red on the edges but it's leaves are narrower & darker green. Ebony is almost grey-green in colour.

Individual Ebony rosettes will grow to about 15-20cm in diameter and approximately 10cm in height. The rosettes can produce chicks but they are not very prolific ‘hens’. Some plants will never produce any at all while others may pop 2-3 now and again.

This is Echeveria Ebony at the beginning of Autumn. It is just starting to colour up. The edges go much darker once the temperatures start dropping further. 

These are young Ebony plants in summer. The colour on the edges are usually non existent this time of year unless the plant is very stressed.

Position & Care

Echeveria Ebony is quite a hardy succulent and will deal with a variety of conditions. I would advise to be on the safe side as Ebony can be a little too pricey. By this I mean keep it out of the sun or under shade-cloth during heatwaves (when the shade temperature is forecast to be over 35C/95F) and also keep out of very heavy rain. In my experience, Ebony is not particularly sensitive to water, however, I have head one or two (out of 50 though) rot when the rain has been persistent for a week or so. Our nursery Ebonys are bought as tiny little tissue cultures and grown for a year before we sell them. The majority are usually fine just growing outside, under 30% shade cloth. This is a great way of preventing damage from UV which is very high here in Australia and also hail. If you don't have a shade-cloth place the plant in a spot where it will get morning sun-afternoon shade or filtered light in late spring and summer. The rest of the year, Ebony can be grown in full sun to get those colours out. 

Ebony is not frost tolerant and will die if exposed to temperatures below 0C/32F. In cold climates with snow or frequent frost, Ebony will need to be over-wintered in the house or a greenhouse.

In general, Echeverias are not suitable to be grown indoors as very few houses will have bright enough rooms to sustain their needs and Ebony is no exception. If you have to keep Ebony indoors in winter, make sure it is on the brightest windowsill or get plant growing lights to help her along.

Echeveria Ebony is a fantastic pot plant. To get it to grow full size upgrade the pot every growing season. In warmer climates this plant will make a fantastic garden addition and tends to be a lot more hardy than when it's grown in pots.

Succulent potting mix is best for plants in pots. Pumice or Perlite can be added to help with drainage. In the garden, planting straight in the ground is ok, though if the soil is too heavy a bit of potting mix can be added and mixed through to help the plant establish. Garden succulents are in most cases much hardier than their counterparts in pots.

A bit more re watering- Ebony in pots will need regular watering in summer (whenever the potting mix dries out). In winter water sparingly and keep mostly dry, especially if the plants are indoors due to frost. Garden plants in the ground will only need to be watered in periods of drought.

Propagation

Echeveria Ebony is not an easy plant to propagate and mostly grows as a solitary rosette, not producing offsets. On average, out of every 100 plants we grow only about 10-15% will produce any pups. If you are lucky enough to have a pup producing Ebony and want to propagate, wait until the pup is big enough with a good stalk before taking it off.

Ebony will produce new growth when her centre is wounded and so beheading is a good way to gain more plants. To read more about how to behead a succulent, go here.

Leaf propagation is also very very hard. I have once tried with approximately 30 leaves and only 5 produced new growth. The rest shrivelled off or rotted. Another problem you will come across when trying to propagate from leaves, is taking them off without breaking. Ebony has thick and wide leaves growing close together which makes it incredibly difficult to separate from the stalk. In order for a leaf to grow new shoots, there can be absolutely no breakages or bits of the leaf left on the stalk. One trick will, however, make it easier. Try and keep your Ebony on the dry side as the leaves will not be as plump and therefore easier to pull off entire. We have a separate article on how to grow succulents from leaves here. To be honest, I would not recommend trying to propagate Echeveria Ebony from leaves as it is not likely to work out.

Seed propagation is possible but it can take a long time for a seed to produce any decent plants (at least over a year, close to 2). Also, beware of fake seeds. Only buy from reputable seed shops where reviews can be checked out.

As with any plant, only propagate in the growing season. For Ebony mid Spring is the best time to undertake any beheading, pup separation or seed sowing.

Pests

Ebony is susceptible to a few pests. Mealybugs can attack roots as well as the foliage and Aphids also tend to find their way into the centre of the rosette, especially in spring, autumn and around flowering time. If there are ants (who protect and ‘farm’ pests) on or around your plants it usually means you have either mealybugs, aphids or scale.

Slugs, snails, grasshoppers and caterpillars have also been known to snack on the fleshy leaves.

The good news is that Echeveria Ebony is not the absolute favourite of these pests and they are likely to attack other plants, but if they are in abundance or there is an infestation, it is likely they will find their way to Ebony too.

Toxicity

Echeveria Ebony (like the majority of Echeverias) is not listed as toxic to humans, dogs, cats or any livestock. This plant should, however, not be eaten and if it is accidentally consumed (by a child etc.) a doctor should be consulted as a precaution.

Where Can I Buy It?

Echeveria Ebony can be bought in specialist succulent nurseries or online. Our nursery sells small Ebony on our website fernfarmplants.com.au in Australia.

Elsewhere in the world check your favourite succulent nurseries or online. If you can’t find them,  Ebay or Amazon may have sellers who stock these. It is always easier and cheaper to get one in the growing season as they are more abundant.