About 35 succulent plant species in the genus Aeonium have particularly shiny, waxy leaves grouped in rosettes. The species range in size from the little A. tabuliforme and A. smithii, which grow only a few inches across, to the larger A. arboreum, A. valverdense, and A. holochrysum, which grow several feet wide.
The rosette structures' spherical leaves are so flawless that these species are frequently mistaken for artificial plants. These distinctive rosettes come in many colors, including white, yellow, red, and green, solid or variegated. Although they aren't particularly striking, small, star-shaped blooms grow in clusters from the rosettes' centers.
Aeoniums can be planted at any season in the garden. These are slow-growing plants, and it could take up to five years for them to produce the small flower clusters in the center of the rosettes. Most aeoniums are monocarpic, which means that after flowering, the mother plant dies, but the pups (shoots) continue to produce further shoots.
Care for Aeonium
Aeoniums can be cultivated in the ground as perennials in warmer climes, but they're also popular as potted plants on decks and patios. They should be cultivated in containers and brought indoors before frost in colder climates. Aeoniums attract the most attention in the garden when planted in masses.
When tall varieties become shrubby, they can resemble bonsai; if they become too lanky, you can clip them. Cuttings will quickly root and produce new plants, allowing you to expand your planting space.
Because they store water in their leaves and stems, aeoniums have shallow root systems. Aeoniums prefer moist but not wet soil, unlike other succulents that prefer dry soil. They can grow roots along their stems, which you may detect if the plant becomes pot bound or if the branches fall and come into contact with the soil.
Make sure the roots don't get too dry. The falling parts will soon be transformed into new plants by the stem roots. The weight of the rosettes causes leggy branches to tumble over and snap off. If this occurs, the broken stem can be replanted.
Aeonium plants thrive in full sun to part shade, as do most succulents. Light shade may be required in hot summers and desert situations. Give them bright indirect light indoors.
Because aeoniums require moisture, sandy loam or standard potting mix mixed with perlite is preferable for succulents and cacti. If planted in a garden with dense soil, it may be necessary to modify the porosity using peat moss.
Water whenever the top inch of soil has dried out in the winter. If your fingertip is dry, test it by poking it down an inch or two into the earth and watering it. Although these succulents prefer more moisture than many other succulents, too much moisture or leaving them to sit in damp soil will cause root rot.
Humidity and Temperature
These plants thrive in a Mediterranean climate that isn't too hot, cold, or dry. Only USDA zones 9 to 11 are suitable for most aeonium types. In summer, planting aeoniums in moist, shaded soil will keep them growing, but their growing season is from winter to spring, when temperatures are cool (65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and damp. They may become dormant in the summer and do not require much irrigation except in arid conditions.
Fertilize every month or so during the growing season with a half-strength balanced fertilizer. It is not necessary to feed the plant while it is dormant.
- Aeonium arboreum: This plant boasts bright green rosettes on a branching stalk and is commonly accessible. It has a shrubby growth habit and can reach 6 feet in the garden or 3 feet in containers.
- Aeonium arboreum 'Atropurpureum': When planted in intense light, this 3- to 5-foot tall variety produces crimson leaves.
- Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop' or 'Black Rose': The leaves of this cultivar are exceedingly dark, practically black. It, too, is a substantial plant.
- Aeonium 'Garnet': A mix between Aeonium 'Zwarkop' and Aeonium tabuliforme, this variety's leaves are green in the middle and dark crimson at the tips.
- Aeonium davidbramwelli: 'Sunburst' has rosettes up to 1 foot across with pale yellow, white, and green stripes, as well as pink tips.
- Aeonium haworthii 'Tricolor' or 'Kiwi': Aeonium haworthii 'Tricolor' or 'Kiwi' is a 2- to 3-foot plant with 4-inch flowers that have pale yellow centers when young and mature to red and green.
Because of the way aeonium branches, you can get a lot of plants from a single cutting, so it's an excellent method to expand your collection. Aeoniums, like many succulents, are very easy to reproduce from cuttings in the spring. Even stem fragments that fall off the plant can easily take root in the soil.
The following are the steps to take to propagate aeonium from cuttings:
- Cut off a younger stem portion and a leaf rosette with a very sharp, clean cutting tool. Allow three days for the cut end to heal by turning it over and placing it in a dry, warm, and shady location. (The callous is significant because once the cutting is planted, it will prevent root rot.)
- Mix half standard potting soil and half cactus/succulent potting mix in a small container with drainage holes. Just deep enough in the potting mixture to hold the severed, calloused end of the cutting upright. Plant in bright indirect light and water lightly once a week to keep the pot looking healthy and vibrant.
- Once the plant has formed strong roots, leave the top 2 inches of soil to dry out before watering. Repot it into a larger container as needed.
Aeonium Potting and Repotting
Aeoniums are ideal for growing in pots since they need very little soil. Containers also provide you with an up-close view of their distinctive features so you can have better control over their growing environment. You may not need to water them at all if you live in a high-humidity or wet environment.
To avoid standing water and root rot, choose a container with a drainage hole. Use a standard potting mix rather than a fast-draining succulent/cactus mix to assist maintain the required moisture levels.
Re-pot aeoniums in containers every two to three years with fresh potting soil if you're growing them in containers.
Aphids, mealybugs, mites, and scale are all attracted to aeoniums. However, there is another creature to keep an eye out for ants. Sugary compounds secreted by aphids and mealybugs lure ants to succulents. Ants are difficult to remove from succulents with tight buds or rosette leaves.
Your best bet is to place ant bait near the plants to attract them. After the ants are gone, you may focus on getting rid of the other pests. To get rid of the insects, spray the plant with water or a light insecticidal soap.
Common issues with Aeonimus
Because part of its natural behavior can lead you to believe the plant is dying, this succulent is both easy and challenging to care for. Here are some pointers on how to care for aeoniums.
- Plant Leaves That Have Fallen Off
It's very normal for the rosette's bottom leaves to shed. The rosette may also shrink a little. Even if the plant appears to be dying, it is most likely in a dormant state. Dormancy occurs during the summer. Please do not attempt to help the plant; let it alone rest. Taking stem cuttings from the plant during dormancy is also not a good idea.
However, if the plant is overly hot and underwatered in the summer, the same behavior can occur. Their leaves curl in intense heat to prevent excessive water loss. If the rosette is closing up or curling along with leaf dropping, you can detect whether the plant is stressed or not. If you suspect this is the case, give the plant a drink of water and observe if the rosettes open up and uncurl a little, though the leaves may still shed.
- Leaves that are turning brown
The leaves will become burnt if the plant receives too much sunshine. You can either remove the burnt leaves or let them fall off naturally. Move the plant to a location that gets a little direct sunlight.
- Mother Branch Is Dying
If the mother plant of a branching aeonium has flowered, the branch will appear to be dying. It's fading, but you can save it by cutting off the head where the rosette and flowers have already bloomed with a sharp, clean-cutting instrument. The branch should have kids (shoots) on it that will continue to grow and eventually flower, even if it does not appear to be very attractive at first.