How To Grow and Care For Echeveria Agavoides

Lipstick echeveria is a popular, attractive, low-maintenance succulent. It grows well in an arrangement with other potted succulents and looks great in warm-weather gardens, on its own in a small pot, or even in warm-weather rock gardens.

Plus, you don’t even need a green thumb to grow lipstick echeveria – all it requires is a sunny south-facing windowsill. If you want to learn how to care for this simple but sensational houseplant, read on.

A picture of different echeveria in pots

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Quick Guide to Echeveria Agavoides

Sun requirementsFull sun preferred, some shade tolerated
Hardiness/ZoneHardy outdoors only in Zones 9b+
Water needsTypical for succulent; water sparingly in winter
ToxicityNon-toxic
Primary growth seasonSummer
Typical sizesTypically a maximum of 5-12 inches across and almost as tall

Growing Requirements for Echeveria Agavoides

close up of an Echeveria Agavoides

Echeveria agavoides got the name “agavoides,” as well as its nickname “wax agave,” because it is shaped like an agave plant. 

Its fleshy triangular leaves grow from the heart of the plant, with minimal stem. E. agavoides is commonly called “lipstick” echeveria because its spiky leaves look as lush as lips, and the edge of each leaf looks streaked with red lipstick.

As long as you give them a suitable environment, growing echeveria agavoides is about as easy as putting lipstick on an agave. They are generally problem free unless given too much water or not enough sunlight. With minimal effort and a sunny windowsill, you can enjoy growing lipstick echeveria in any home or office.

Where To Plant

Echeveria succulents outdoors

Lipstick echeveria is native to rocky areas of Mexico. That makes it a natural and beautiful addition to a rock garden, but it is a tender succulent, not very cold hardy. Although a mature plant may survive an occasional quick dip below freezing, you should avoid planting it in the ground unless you live in USDA zone 9b or higher. 

This succulent does well in a pot. During summer, you can place it in the garden and bring it inside when the temperatures are colder. However, keep in mind that it prefers gradual transitions. 

Don’t move it directly from a part-shade indoor location straight into a full-sun outdoor location or it may become sunburned.

Echeveria appreciates full direct sunlight but will tolerate some shade. Too much shade will cause it to stretch out instead of remaining compact. 

The red leaf-tips that earned it the “lipstick” nickname appear boldest when the echeveria gets lots of bright, direct sunlight. That means when grown indoors it’s best to place it in a sunny south-facing windowsill.

With sufficient sunlight, echeveria agavoides will also produce flowers in the summer. The plant will produce short cymes (flower stems of up to 12 inches). The small flowers that grow from the cymes are typically pink or orange at the base and yellow at the petal tips. 

Container and Soil

A person putting cactus soil mix in an unglazed pot

Like all succulents, lipstick echeveria benefits from excellent drainage. Pick a pot with a large drainage hole in the bottom. You should also choose an unglazed pot because it absorbs excess moisture from overwatering.

Avoid using a pot that is too large for the plant. A large pot with a lot of soil will retain moisture for too long, encouraging root rot. 

E. agavoides need well-draining soil. You can use a well-draining succulent or cactus mix, or make your own potting medium. 

This is a simple recipe for potting medium that will work well for your lipstick echeveria:

  • Two parts potting soil, 
  • One part sharp/coarse sand (optional), and
  • One part gritty amendment (such as perlite, pumice, or pebbles).

Watering

A picture showing watering an echeveria succulent

Overwatering your lipstick echeveria can cause leaf drop, root rot, and puts the plant at greater risk of opportunistic pests. It is particularly vulnerable to rot if you water carelessly and it drips down into the crevices of the plant where it doesn’t easily evaporate.

If you have plenty of exposed soil around your echeveria, you can use the “soak and dry” method: 

  1. Confirm that the soil is fully dry to at least an inch of depth. 
  2. Place the pot in a sink.
  3. Gently water the soil around the plant until water streams out the bottom, being careful not to drip water on the plant itself.
  4. Wait a minute for the water to absorb throughout the soil as much as possible.
  5. Water the soil again, to make sure the potting mix is completely saturated. 
  6. Let the pot drain fully. If water accumulates in the saucer under the plant, dump it promptly.
  7. Move the plant back to its home. Let the potting mix dry fully before watering again.

However, if your lipstick echeveria fills the pot, so that you can’t water it in the sink without wetting the plant, you can try the “dunk and soak” method instead.

  1. Confirm that the soil is fully dry to at least an inch of depth.
  2. Add a few inches of water to a bucket with a larger diameter than the pot.
  3. Carefully lower the potted plant into the bucket and set it down, making sure the displaced water does not rise high enough to touch the plant or flow over the top edge of the pot.
  4. Leave the plant in the water to soak and draw water up through the drain hole. When the soil is damp, after a few minutes or more (depending on the size of the pot and its drainage holes), carefully remove the pot. Leaving the plant in the bucket too long could oversaturate the plant and drown the roots.
  5. Hold the pot over the bucket to allow excess water to drain before returning the pot to its saucer. If water accumulates in the saucer under the plant, dump it promptly.
  6. Move the plant back to its home. Let the potting mix dry fully before watering again.

Both methods require a pot with drainage holes. 

Water on an as-needed basis using the “finger test.” The plant needs watering when you press your finger into the soil and confirm it is fully dry to at least an inch of depth. Once you get a sense of the weight of the pot at the correct stage of dryness, you won’t have to use the finger test. 

In the winter, while the plant is dormant, be especially careful not to over-water. Once a month should be plenty. 

Fertilizer and Maintenance

Woman holding an Echeveria Agavoides

E. agavoides have low feeding needs. You won’t typically need to fertilize it for the first year after you either purchase it new or repot it in fresh potting mix. After that, you can use a liquid cactus fertilizer, preferably organic, diluted to no more than half strength. Apply in the spring and again a couple of months later. Do not fertilize at all during winter dormancy.

Over time, the bottom leaves of your plant will gradually dry up. Most people remove them. Eventually, this will leave you with a bit of a stem under your plant. You can leave it, but the proper method of pruning your tall echeveria agavoides sounds a bit drastic: beheading. 

  1. Using a sharp sterile knife or clippers, sever the stem of your echeveria agavoides a couple of inches below the base of the healthy leaves.
  2. Cure the plant’s stem in a dry location with good air circulation, out of direct sunlight, for several days.
  3. Then stick the stem end into a pot full of fresh, succulent-appropriate potting mix.

For more detail on echeveria pruning, check out this video.

You can also keep watering the stump of the old e. agavoides. Leave it in a shady spot. Often they will produce offsets after a beheading, so you can propagate more plants.

Propagation

Mid-spring is the best time for propagating your lipstick echeveria. Your plants will have a much higher survival rate if they are several weeks out of dormancy.

Echeveria agavoides propagation is easiest using offsets (also known as chicks or pups). They grow under the original plant (or from the stump of a beheaded plant). This species does not produce offsets until it is mature, and even many echeveria produce fewer offsets than typical succulents.

Wait until offsets are big enough that they have their own stem (and ideally roots) when divided, or you may kill not just the offset but damage the mother plant. To propagate offsets:

  1. If you find it hard to access the area between the offset and the mother plant with your fingers, remove the plant from the pot. You can use it as an opportunity to repot the mother plant or freshen up the soil.
  2. Using your fingers, remove your offset from the mother plant with a gentle twist. If you can’t without damaging the mother plant or other offsets, insert a sharp, sterile knife between the mother plant and pup, pulling them apart. 
  3. If the offset has roots, gently detach them from the mother plant’s roots. Repot the mother.
  4. Leave the offset lying on a plate or table in the open air for several days after cutting it to cure it. Keep it dry and out of direct sunlight. This will allow the raw area to heal over, forming a callus. This step is important to avoid bacterial or fungal growth at the cut end.
  5. After the callus has formed you have the option of dipping the cut end in a rooting hormone. This is typically unnecessary but it can speed up the process, especially if you picked an offset without any roots of its own. 
  6. Plant the callus end in moist, well-draining potting mix (including lots of perlite or coarse sand). Keep it out of direct sunlight. Indirect light is fine. Don’t overwater, but you also don’t want to let the potting mix dry out.
  7. Once the offset is growing and well rooted you can move it to an area with more sun exposure, but do so gradually to avoid sunburn.

Offsets are the easiest way to propagate your lipstick echeveria, but you can also use individual leaf cuttings. It may take a propagated leaf a long time to produce any visible new growth. You will want to cure it like an offset, then lay it in a pot of an appropriate potting mix, keeping it moist until you see results (death, or possibly new growth).

For a more detailed guide to methods of leaf propagation for succulents, check out this video. 

You can also grow lipstick echeveria succulent from stem cuttings or seeds.

Enjoy Your Lipstick echeveria

Echeveria agavoides may look fancy, but they’re remarkably low maintenance. Other plants will come and go, but as long as you provide the right conditions, you may enjoy a healthy relationship with your lipstick echeveria for decades to come. 

About The Author

Emily Cordo is a Master Gardener and DIY remodeling enthusiast. She is co-owner of a small garlic farm in central Indiana, built on the values of permaculture, organics, and biodiversity.

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