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By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Also known as Mexican hen and chicks, Black Knight echeveria is an attractive succulent plant with rosettes of fleshy, pointy, blackish-purple leaves. This article can help with that.
About Black Knight Echeveria
Echeveria plants abound in variety, and their ease of care makes them popular succulent plants to grow. The new growth in the center of Black Knight rosettes provides a bright green contrast to the dark outer leaves. In late summer and fall, Black Knight succulents produce colorful, coral-red blooms atop slender, arching stalks. As an added benefit, deer and bunnies tend to steer clear of Black Knight plants.
Native to South and Central America, Black Knight echeveria is suitable for growing in the warm climates of USDA plant hardiness zones 9 or above. The plant won’t tolerate frost, but you can grow Black Knight echeveria indoors, or grow them in pots outdoors and bring them inside before the temperature drops in fall.
Growing Echeveria Black Knight Plants
Outdoors, Black Knight plants prefer poor to average soil. Indoors, you plant Black Knight in a container filled with cactus potting mix or a mixture of regular potting mix and sand or perlite.
Black Knight succulents prefer full sunlight, but a little afternoon shade is a good idea if you live in a hot climate. Intense afternoon sunlight may be too intense. Indoors, echeveria Black Knight needs a sunny window, but no direct sunlight during hot afternoons.
Water the soil or potting mix and never let water sit in the rosettes. Excessive moisture on the foliage can invite rot and other fungal diseases. Water indoor Black Knight succulents deeply until water trickles through the drainage hole, then don’t water again until the soil feels dry to the touch. Be sure to pour extra water out of the drainage saucer.
Cut back on watering if the leaves look shriveled or wilted, or if the plants are dropping leaves. Decrease watering during the winter months.
Echeveria Black Knight plants don’t require a lot of fertilizer and too much can burn the leaves. Provide a light dose of a slow-release fertilizer in spring or apply a very weak solution of water-soluble fertilizer occasionally throughout spring and summer.
Remove lower leaves from outdoor Black Knight plants as the plant matures. Older, lower leaves may harbor aphids and other pests.
If you bring Black Knight succulents indoors in autumn, return them to the outdoors gradually in spring, beginning in light shade and slowly moving them into the sunlight. Drastic changes in temperature and sunlight create a difficult adjustment period.
This article was last updated on
Read more about Echeveria
Echeveria 'Black Knight'
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Where to Grow:
Can be grown as an annual
Soil pH requirements:
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
On Jan 14, 2018, LonnieMiller from Windsor, MO (Zone 6b) wrote:
Echeveria affinis 'Black Knight' is NOT a hybrid. Quoting from the International Crassulaceae Network:
"This is not a hybrid with E. affinis as one parent, but it is the species E. affinis itself, distributed as ISI 269 in 1959 as a clone somewhat different from the type species :
"This collection differs from that of the type (see the C&SJ., 30:195) in its blacker, slightly differently shaped leaves. Collected by R. J. Taylor under bushes and trees on the road between Mazatlan and Durango, Mexico. The surrounding country is mountainous, the altitude about 5000' with rains even in summer."
The name 'Black Knight' must not be used any longer, the name of the plant is Echeveria affinis." End quote.
On Jan 2, 2009, hankeat from Berlin,
Germany (Zone 7a) wrote:
I like the narrow, black colour leaves. Mine blooms at the moment. I used brush to pollinate it. I'll try to collect and sow the seeds.
On Jul 13, 2006, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:
This Echeveria hybrid (Echeveria affinis hybrid) is sometimes confused with E Black Prince (as it was by me for a while). but this plant has long, more tubular, upright leaves, while the Black Prince is a flatter plant with short, triangular leaves. Both have the brownish leaves, though Black prince often gets pretty black at the leaf tips. Both also have nice red flowers, usually in winter to spring. This hybrid rarely offsets, while Black Prince offsets easily. I have no problems growing either plant, though if over watered in super hot weather, this one tends to rot.
Cactus and Succulents forum→Black knight echeveria problems
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I do restart mine every couple years maybe as the rosette gets smaller atop the stem. When I root cuttings I leave them outdoors in bright shade, a little morning sun maybe, until there is a visible sign that they are growing again. At that point more morning sun or 50% shade maybe, with gradual adjustments over the course of weeks to months until the young plant can handle a full daily dose of direct sun. You have to baby them when they are little (esp. leaf propagations) but always try to give strong light, never leave them in deep shade. To some extent the plant tells you how it is dealing with the exposure. When it loses the black color it needs more light.
You can grow one of these as an indoor plant but that requires hours of daily sun (an unobstructed south-facing window is great for overwintering). Reflected light indoors is no good on its own. Given these plants can be a little sensitive to too much sun, they are even more sensitive to too little sun. The happy middle ground is where I try to put them.
Is there something about how you are watering or feeding maybe? Or some other aspect of their care?
These have gotten a lot of rain, I was concerned about root rot but the soil drys fast and I've been lucky.
Steve, that is an Aeonium, not an Echeveria. note the fine hairs along the edges of the leaves. The long stems are also a hint. The plant looks like it's really thriving, though.
Steve I love your aeonium. That's the one succulent that I haven't tried yet. I was warned away from them. Supposedly they don't grow well in SoFla. I'm gonna try anyway. Thanks.
The black(ish) Echeverias seem to be a bit seasonal in their growth pattern here, where temps are mild. More active in summer and fall, around the time they flower. So you might see a slowdown in coming months, nothing to be alarmed about. Be vigilant for mealy bugs on small plants. they are easy enough to spot because of the contrast.
Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’
The vibrant colors of this Aeonium will create a striking contrast in any setting. Get yours at Mountain Crest Gardens by clicking this picture.
Aeonium arboreum is a striking succulent with large rosettes of deep purplish-black leaves. The rosettes can reach up to eight inches in diameter and the entire plant can grow up to three feet in height. The size and gorgeous color of Zwartkop make it an ideal plant for outdoor succulent gardens, provided that the climate is appropriate.
Aeonium arboreum are native to North Africa and typically grow during the winter and are dormant during the summer. They require porous soil and proper watering techniques in order to thrive. They do well in full or partial sun, but the color of the leaves will deepen as the plant receives more light.
Zwartkop are not frost hardy and must be brought inside or covered during frigid weather. They do well in container gardens, especially when they can be left outside during warm weather and brought inside when temperatures drop.
Zwartkop are best propagated from stem cuttings. As the plant grows, the bottom leaves of the rosette will fall off, leaving a bare stem. To keep the plant looking tidy, you can remove the rosette to replant elsewhere and the bare stem will produce another rosette.
Echeveria affinis (aka. ‘Black Knight’) on 6-12-14, #229-14.
Once outside again, I cut the top portion off so it could regrow and look better. Many succulents need this done from time to time.
Echeveria affinis (aka. ‘Black Knight’) on 6-29-14, #230-41.
I didn’t say I discarded the old part. I somehow have not been able to accept throwing away plants that are still alive without feeling a bit guilty.
Echeveria affinis (aka. ‘Black Knight’) on 7-12-14, #231-46.
Growing succulents is very simple as long as you follow a few basic rules. One is they need fast-draining soil. You can achieve this in several ways such as amending the potting soil with extra grit and perlite. I have been mixing 2 parts or potting soil with 1 part chicken grit and 1 part perlite. This isn’t perfect and I am “still working on it”. I think the best recipe should drain almost as fast as water is poured in while also absorbing thoroughly into the soil. You know how peat is, though. Once it dries out it is hard to get it to absorb water again. Some additives cause the soil to be harder and even less absorbent. There are some very good recipes for cactus and succulent potting soil but sometimes the ingredients aren’t readily available.
Watering can also be tricky. They need regular watering during the growing period while outside, but very little during the cooler months while inside. The dormacy table that is available online says Echeveria are winter dormant although they still do some growing. This is especially true in a warmer environment with less than adequate light. Their leaves and stems will stretch and become weird.
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. If you can’t think of what to say, please at least click on “like” so I will know you visited this page. For further reading, you can click on the links below.
FOR FURTHER READING: INTERNATIONAL CRASSULACEAE NETWORK DAVE’S GARDEN PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE WORLD OF SUCCULENTS ECHEVERIA CARE GUIDE PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE ( GENUS / SPECIES ) WIKIPEDIA ( GENUS )
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