Fig. 1 Woolly Rose (Echeveria cristata 'Doris Taylor') flowers
Every summer in my garden, the Echeveria cristata 'Woolly Rose' (a.k.a. Echeveria 'Doris Taylor') sends out colorful flowers that look like candies. The rosette foliage of this plant is covered evenly with a thick mat of trichomes that gives it a velvety appearance - thus the name Woolly Rose. Not only the plant is beautiful but it is also a source of nectar for the hummingbirds (Fig. 2). Whenever my plants bloom, I move the ones that are in pots to a place where we can enjoy the view from the kitchen window.
Fig. 2 When in bloom, Echeveria cristata is a hummingbird magnet.
Tips in Growing Woolly Rose
1. Soil. Plant Woolly Rose in the garden where the soil is well drained. Improve drainage of clay soils by adding sand or pumice in planting area. In containers, use cactus mix for good drainage and weight. Adding good amount of Perlite and sand to regular potting soil works as well.
2. Sunlight. Woolly Rose is adaptable to a wide range of environments but the plant will look its best in the right place. In the summer (Zone 9), position Woolly Rose where it will get a few hours of morning sun or a short period of afternoon sun. Too much exposure to sunlight will result in washed out yellowish color of the leaves while too little sunlight gives relatively greener foliage and longer internodes. The right amount of sunlight will give the plant a bluish green color and compact rosette foliage. Contrary to popular belief, succulents thrive best in partly shaded environment.
3. Water. The plant can tolerate periods of dry conditions but they grow faster and look better if they get adequate water. Adjust watering based on the weather. Watering is needed more frequently in summer and spring time, when the soil dries up faster, than in the cooler months of fall and winter. The size of container is also a factor to consider when it comes to watering. Plants in smaller containers require more frequent watering than those in larger containers/
Fig. 3 Echeveria cristata planted along with some Aloes.
4. Fertilizer. Woolly Rose performs better when it gets sufficient soil nutrients. Although the plant does not need a lot of fertilizer, it is responsive to fertilization during growing season. A low dose of complete fertilizer is all the plant needs. Succulent/cactus fertilizers (2-7-7 and 1-7-6), available at local nurseries, are easy to use and can be applied as often as every other week.
5. Protection from Frost. Woolly Rose is easy to grow - the only problem, especially where I live, is the susceptibility of the plant to frost damage. In areas where freezing temperatures are expected, protect the plant by moving them to a sheltered area. With a little bit of protection this plant will continue to provide a delightful touch in the succulent garden.
6. Propagation. The plant is easy to propagate through cuttings. Stem cuttings collected under the lowest leaves are the fastest to root. Collect and stick the cuttings where there is a little bit of moisture and warmth. Figure 3 shows Woolly Rose growing from the sides of an orchid plant. Cuttings were directly planted into the holes. Some succulents can be easily propagated from the leaves but this is not the case with Woolly Rose.
Fig. 4 Trichome-covered rosette foliage.
Note: Extreme temperatures, drought, and nutritional deficiency are conditions that can cause stress to Woolly Rose - all of which can contribute in the loss of the basal leaves and exposing a dark brown stem (Fig. 4). However, this is not necessarily alarming. In fact, this is a natural process that gives that plant an aged look.