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Plant Highlight: Echeveria pulvinata ‘Frosty’

December 2014

There are a number of species of Echeveria with leaves coated with short hairs, giving the plants a plush-toy texture. One of these is Echeveria pulvinata, from southeast of Mexico City in the states of Puebla and Oaxaca. The usual form of the species has green leaves, tipped with bright red if given sufficient light. In contrast, the form known as Echeveria pulvinata ‘Frosty’ has silvery-white hairs, giving it a frosted appearance. It comes from the mountains of northern Oaxaca, to the north of the city of Oaxaca.Echeveria pulvinata ‘Frosty’ has spoon-shaped leaves with pointed tips arranged in small rosettes about 3 inches across (7.5 cm). This plant is stem-forming, and the stems are coated with the same silvery hairs as the leaves. By branching and putting out offsets, the plant in time becomes a clump, growing ever wider but never getting more than a foot tall (30 cm).

Echeveria pulvinata ‘Frosty’ flowers in fall and winter, usually commencing at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in late October or early November and ending in about February. The flower stalks are up to about 12 inches in length (30 cm), bearing chubby bract leaves along the lower portion and short-tubular flowers higher up. The flowers are about 5/8 of an inch long (1.6 cm) and red-orange at the tips, fading to a paler orange at the base and within. The flower stalks, the bract leaves, and even the sepals clasping the base of the flower are all coated with the silvery hairs seen on the leaves and stems.

This plant is often grown in pots, but it also does well in the ground if given partial shade and good drainage. It can endure temperatures down to a little below freezing, but should be protected from extended freeze.