Sempervivum vs Echeveria: 6 Interesting Differences and Similarities
If you’re in the succulent section of the store and are confused about whether the plant you like is Sempervivum or Echeveria, you’re not alone.
At a glance, both these plants look alike. In fact, both of them share many similarities.
But they also have some key differences that differentiate the two.
So, if you’re wondering what genus the succulent belongs to, in our article, we’ve discussed Sempervivum vs Echeveria and the key differences and similarities between the two so that you can identify each plant correctly.
Sempervivum vs Echeveria: Differences
When you consider the succulents, Sempervivum and Echeveria there are many characteristics that differentiate the two and, in this section, we’ll discuss the differences between them in detail.
Also known as houseleeks, Sempervivum is also known by other names like liveforever (originating from the words “semper” (always) and “vivus” (living)) and hen and chicks. There are around 50 species of Sempervivum in existence.
These are succulent perennials that are native to the area from Iran to Morocco, the Alps, the Balkan Mountains, Carpathians, the mountains of Iberia, the Armenian mountains, Turkey, the Caucasus and the Sahara Desert.
They grow on the stony and sunny rocks and areas in the mountains, alpine and subalpine belts.
Native to the semi-desert habitats of Mexico, Central America and the northwestern part of South America, Echeveria was named after the botanist, Atanasio Echeverria.
There are around 150 species of the Echeveria succulent that grow and thrive generally in warm, dry temperate environments.
200+ Amazing Echeveria Types [With Pictures]
Sempervivum typically grows in the hardiness zones 4 to 10. They do well outdoors in extremely cold, even freezing but dry environments.
Echeveria grows well in the hardiness zones 5 to 11. With proper light and very little water, Echeveria can thrive indoors.
3. Color and Foliage
Sempervivum plants come in various colors including gray-green, red, red-brown, pink and orange. The leaves of the Sempervivum plant are narrower compared to the leaves of the Echeveria and they have pointy tips.
The rosettes of the Sempervivum plants are much smaller than those of the Echeveria plants and measure around 1-inch to 5 inches in diameter.
The rosettes of the Sempervivum usually grow in clumps and measure around two inches or more collectively.
Echeveria comes mostly in the colors gray, blue and green. The leaves of the Echeveria are usually plump, spoon-shaped and rounded.
They are wider and thicker compared to Sempervivum leaves. The rosettes of the Echeveria grow to a diameter of up to ¾ inches to 20 inches.
Sempervivum plants produce small, star-shaped flowers on top of fleshy stems during the warmer months.
Echeveria plants usually produce multiple pink, red or orange-colored, bell-shaped flowers during the warmer months.
The Sempervivum plant produces offsets that develop from an independent plant called the stolon. This stolon can separate from the main plant and grow its own root system.
The Echeveria plant also produces offsets. But all the chicks grow from a single base stem and they grow together, forming clumps.
These plants are almost impossible to be propagated by stem or leaf. The most viable way to propagate Sempervivum plants is to take the offset from the plant and repot them. Or, they can be propagated by using seeds.
You can propagate the Echeveria plant by stem cutting, offset or leaf. They can also be grown from seeds.
Sempervivum vs Echeveria: Similarities
Both Sempervivum and Echeveria are succulents and are quite similar to each other in many ways and are often confused with one another. Both these plants are often called hens and chicks.
They are quite similar in appearance, and the leaves of both plants are arranged as rosettes. Both plants have plump, fleshy stems and leaves that store water. Both Sempervivum and Echeveria reproduce similarly by producing offsets.
How to Care For Sempervivum and Echeveria
Caring for Sempervivum
These succulents are frost resistant, and once they are established, Sempervivum plants are quite low-maintenance and easy to care for.
Light and Temperature
Sempervivum prefers full sun and if grown in hot climates, then it prefers afternoon shade. Lack of light can cause the plant to grow tall, a process called etiolation.
Since Sempervivum is a frost-hardy plant, it thrives well in cold climates and can handle temperatures up to -30°F. The plant can also tolerate heat well but prefers temperatures between 65°F to 75°F.
These plants don’t do very well indoors as they will not get the adequate sunlight they need.
Sempervivum prefers a well-draining soil mix that has 25%-50% sand, perlite, pumice or gravel. If grown in a pot or container, you can use a soil mix for succulents to keep the roots of the plant dry.
Although Sempervivum is a drought-tolerant plant, it needs moisture consistently during the growing season. During summer and spring, it needs thorough watering, but you must let the soil dry out between the waterings.
Reduce the watering when the plant enters dormancy during fall. The mature Sempervivum rosettes planted in the ground can survive the winter under the snow without any watering.
But younger rosettes and potted plants need a little water even during winter.
Sempervivum plants do not need regular fertilizing, but they do well if you fertilize using a controlled-release fertilizer when the growing season begins. You can also fertilize the plants using a balanced liquid fertilizer once a week.
Use a fertilizer with less nitrogen for younger plants because too much nitrogen can cause the rosettes to become more susceptible to rot.
You can repot the Sempervivum plants during spring if required.
Caring for Echeveria
Light and Temperature
Echeveria plants grow well in full sun to partial shade. But make sure that during the summer, you do not expose the plants to any major sunlight changes and the afternoon sun.
If you’re moving the plants outdoors, do it slowly because exposure to the intense sun will cause sunburn. Move the plants indoors during the winter months to keep them healthy.
And, when indoors, place them near a window that gets the most light. Echeveria plants can tolerate very cold temperatures, even below freezing, but these plants are quite sensitive and don’t do very well in harsh conditions.
Echeveria needs a well-draining potting soil mix and using a commercial succulent potting mix works quite well.
Echeveria plants need proper watering and don’t do very well if the soil is too wet or too dry. The plant needs moderate water from spring to fall and if the leaves look wrinkled, it means that the plant requires more water.
Use a soak-and-dry method of watering for Echeveria plants and allow the soil to dry out before watering again. The plants require a little water during the winter months to prevent them from shriveling.
The Echeveria plants can grow without fertilization, but the extra nutrients help them grow better. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer or slow-release fertilizer in spring.
Repotting and Pruning
Repot the plants in early summer or spring only if needed. The Echeveria plant is self-pruning and you may need to just pick out the dead flowers and leaves to prevent any diseases.
Sempervivum and Echeveria succulents share many similarities that can make it difficult to distinguish one from the other.
But they have their differences, too, including foliage color, the shape of leaves, rosette size, offset, flowers and propagation techniques. Both plants are quite easy to grow with low maintenance requirements, which makes them great for home gardens.