Echeveria elegans Care Guide (Mexican Snowball)

We may be paid a commission if you purchase through links on this page. More info.

photo of Mexican snowball succulent plant

Often mistaken for lookalike Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum), Mexican snowball (a.k.a. Mexican Hens and Chicks or Echeveria elegans) is an adorable clumping perennial succulent. Even for inexperienced gardeners, Mexican snowballs are easy, attractive succulents to grow in sunny spots in your house or landscape.

As a passionate succulent enthusiast with years of experience growing Echeveria elegans (Mexican Snowball), I can attest to the charm and resilience of these adorable succulents. My journey with Mexican Snowballs began when I first discovered them at a local nursery, captivated by their unique rosette shape and vibrant green foliage.

Quick Guide to Mexican Snowball

Botanical name (Family)Echeveria Elegans (Crassulaceae family)
Sun requirements Full sun preferred, partial shade tolerated
Hardiness/ZoneHardy outdoors in Zones 9+
Water needsTypical for succulent
Primary growth seasonSpring blooming
Typical sizesTypical rosettes are about 3 inches tall

Growing Requirements for Mexican Snowball

Where to Plant

echeveria elegans in full direct sunlight

Echeveria elegans is native to Mexico and Southern California, so it is a tender succulent and not very cold hardy.

A mature plant may survive an occasional quick dip below freezing, but you shouldn’t plant it in the ground unless you live in USDA zone 9 or higher. If a cold snap is coming, protect your Mexican snowballs from frost with a blanket.

This succulent also does well in a pot that can be brought inside for winter. However, transition the plant gradually, especially when moving the plant outside (to avoid sunburn).

One of the most memorable moments in my experience was during a particularly harsh winter. Worried about my beloved Mexican Snowballs’ well-being, I brought them indoors to protect them from freezing temperatures. I placed them in a south-facing window, ensuring they received the daily dose of sunlight they crave. To my delight, they survived the winter and thrived, producing beautiful pink-to-gold blossoms during the summer, as promised.

You can also grow it indoors year-round. This plant needs at least a few hours of direct sunlight daily so a south-facing window would be best. Echeveria elegans are non-toxic, so keeping them indoors within reach of pets and small children is fine.

Indoors or outdoors, Echeveria appreciate full direct sunlight, although they will tolerate limited shade. Too much shade will cause the rosettes to stretch out.

Note: With enough sunlight, your Mexican snowball may produce flower stalks bearing clusters of attractive pink-to-gold blossoms during summer.

Container and Soil

echeveria elegans in an unglazed pot filled with rocky soil

Like most succulents, Mexican snowball evolved to grow in very rocky soil, so it needs well-draining soil to thrive. This plant also needs little organic matter and gritty material for healthy growth.

Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of well-draining soil and the perils of overwatering, as I’ve had to rescue a few succulents from the brink of rot. I’ve also dealt with the occasional mealybug infestation, which can be challenging but can be managed with organic products.

For potted Mexican snowball, use a well-draining succulent or cactus mix, or make your own potting medium using one of our easy DIY succulent potting mix recipes.

Potted Mexican snowballs benefit from unglazed pots with large drainage holes because it will absorb excess moisture from overwatering. However, you should avoid using a pot that is too large or deep for the plant.

This plant’s shallow roots can’t access dampness in the soil in the bottom of a pot, so keeping the plant watered will probably mean the bottom of the pot never dries out.


Only water this plant on an as-needed basis, as with most succulents. Outdoors they probably won’t need much if any, watering outside the summer.

We recommend the “soak and dry” watering method for indoor plants. You can test the soil with your finger to confirm the plant is dry before watering, assuming you aren’t using an excessively deep pot.

Note: Avoid pouring water directly into the rosettes. Excessive water trapped in the rosettes can encourage rot.

Fertilizer and Maintenance

a man measuring liquid fertilizer in a cup

You can use an organic liquid cactus fertilizer a year after repotting your Mexican snowball in fresh potting mix. If you use fertilizer not meant for succulents, dilute it to half-strength and apply in the spring. Reapply again a couple of months after.

Over time, the leaves at the bottom of each rosette will gradually dry up. This will leave you with a bit of a stem under your plant. You can leave them as is or cut an inch below the first healthy leaf and propagate the top of the plant.


Mexican snowball is easy to propagate using offsets or the heads of rosettes you’ve pruned. Check out our propagation guide to learn how to propagate offsets and stem cuttings.

Common Mexican Snowball Problems

Mexican snowball is very resilient and low maintenance, but there are a few problems to watch out for.

  • Stretching: This plant forms short, compact rosettes when it is healthy. If you can see the stem between the leaf attachment points, you need to move your plant to a location with more sunlight. Stretching isn’t fixable, so consider propagating the stretched stems and starting over.
  • Mealybugs: Mexican snowball’s compact rosettes make such good hiding places to mealybugs. Unfortunately, you will likely not see the mealybugs until your infestation is out of control. Mealybugs can often be controlled using organic products, but it’s an uphill battle.
  • Leaves, stems, and/or roots are brown and mushy: Rot results from overwatering, inadequate drainage, and insufficient sunlight. You may need to address all three issues by repotting, relocating, and reconsidering your watering schedule.

For these or other problems, check out our guide to diagnosing and fixing succulent ailments or our overall guide to succulent care.

Leave a Comment