Plant Highlight: Echeveria derenbergii
Many species of Echeveria are notable for their highly ornamental tight rosettes of succulent leaves, and most of these come from Mexico. A good example is Echeveria derenbergii, native to northern Oaxaca and just across the border in southeastern Puebla. This small clumping species has been popular as a cultivated plant since its discovery in the 1920’s, used in pots, planter boxes, rock gardens and plantings of succulents.
Echeveria derenbergii has chubby pale blue-green leaves with pointed tips, and the tips are often flushed pinkish-red. Each rosette is normally less than 3 inches in diameter (7½ cm), but plants are quick to make offsets and form clumps. The species comes from a mountainous area and has fairly good cold tolerance, withstanding winter lows down to 20° F (-7° C).
The flower stalks on E. derenbergii are shorter than most species, rising only to a height of about 4 inches (10 cm) and bearing about 3 to 6 flowers. Each flower is cupped within a ring of five bracts which match the color of the leaves. At the bud stage, the flowers are red-orange or coral-red with paler bases, but when they open they show off their yellow interiors. This is a spring-flowering species, with its peak season coming in late March and April.
Echeveria derenbergii is easy to grow if given good drainage, and can be readily propagated by removing offsets. In cooler coastal conditions, it does well in full sun, but in warmer interior gardens it benefits from a little shade in the hottest part of the afternoon.