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 good looks and hardiness.
Echeveria Elegans is a medium size succulent that will grow approximately 15cms in diameter and 15cm height. The plant grows low to the ground and does not produce a big stem.
The light blue leaves are covered in a dusting of farina and arranged in a rosette shape. It is this that gives the plant its nickname. Rounded at the edge and quite thick, the leaves can also form an appearance of a round-ish ball.
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 some 10 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.
Echeveria Elegans is not suitable to be grown as an indoor plant and will need at least 4 hours of sun exposure per day followed by bright light. The only way this plant can be grown indoors is with the help of professional plant growing lights.
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.
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, the plant 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 Snowballs are grown outdoors all year round, even if it rains a lot and 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 the 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.
The Mexican Snowball is also not frost tolerant and so will need to be either brought in the house or a greenhouse in winter. The plant 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.
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 unlikely to propagate from leaves. It is very hard to separate the leaves from the plant and, I have never had one actually produce 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 Elegans. The usual suspects (Aphids & Mealybugs) do like feeding on this succulent. Aphids usually in autumn, winter (in warm-moderate climates) and spring. These little, sap sucking insects particularly like feeding on the flowers and can pretty much invade over a couple of days.
Mealy bugs 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.
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.