How to Grow and Care Aeoniums Beautifully

Aeonium is a genus of succulent plants that is known for its distinctive characteristics. If you want to know how to grow and care Aeoniums, you’re in the right place. These plants, numbering around 35 species, are recognized by their glossy and waxy leaves that are arranged in rosettes. They are commonly referred to as tree houseleeks.

The size of Aeonium species can vary significantly, ranging from small varieties like A. tabuliforme and A. smithii, which grow only a few inches tall, to larger species such as A. arboreum, A. valverdense, and A. holochrysum, which can reach several feet in height. Knowing how to grow and care Aeoniums will help you understand the diverse growth patterns of these plants.

One of the remarkable features of Aeonium plants is their perfectly shaped rosette structures, with rounded leaves. These rosettes are so well-formed that they can sometimes be mistaken for artificial plants. When knowing how to grow and care Aeoniums, leaves can be solid-colored or variegated, with white, yellow, red, black and green combinations. While these plants produce small star-like flowers that grow in clusters from the center of the rosettes, the flowers themselves are not particularly showy.

How to Grow and Care Aeoniums

Aeoniums, when knowing how to grow and care Aeoniums, can be grown either in gardens or indoors, providing flexibility for cultivation. These plants have a slow growth rate and may take up to five years before they produce the small bunch of flowers from the center of the rosettes. It is important to note that most aeoniums, when understanding how to grow and care Aeoniums, are monocarpic, which means that the mother plant dies after flowering.

However, the plant produces “pups” or shoots that will continue to grow and produce more shoots of their own. This allows for the perpetuation of the plant’s lineage even after the original mother plant has died.

  • Common Name: Aeonium, tree houseleek
  • Botanical Name: Aeonium spp.
  • Family: Crassulaceae
  • Plant Type: Succulent
  • Mature Size: 3–36 in. tall, 6-12 in. wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • Soil Type: Sandy, loamy
  • Soil pH: Neutral, acidic
  • Bloom Time: Winter, spring
  • Flower Color: Pink
  • Hardiness Zones: 9–11 (USDA)
  • Native Area: Canary Islands, Africa
How to Grow and Care Aeoniums

Aeonium Care

In regions with warmer climates, aeoniums have the potential to thrive as perennial plants when grown directly in the ground. However, it is also quite common to cultivate them as potted plants, placing them on decks or patios. In colder areas, it is essential to grow aeoniums in containers and bring them indoors before the arrival of the first frost in the season.

When planted in gardens, aeoniums create a captivating display when grouped together in large numbers. Taller varieties, such as Aeonium undulatum and Aeonium smithii, can resemble bonsai trees as they develop a shrubby appearance. If these taller varieties become excessively leggy, they can be trimmed. The cuttings taken from pruning easily root and give rise to new plants, enabling further expansion of your planting area.

Aeoniums possess a unique water storage mechanism in their leaves and stems, resulting in shallow root systems. As a result, they prefer soil that is moist but not overly saturated or waterlogged. Along the stems of aeoniums, roots can emerge, especially if the plant becomes root-bound or if the stems make contact with the soil. It is crucial to ensure that these roots do not dry out, as they will promptly transform the fallen stem pieces into new plants. Due to the weight of the rosettes, branches that become elongated and weak may bend and break off. Should this occur, simply replant the broken stem and patiently await its re-routing process.

• Light

Similar to other succulents, aeonium plants thrive when exposed to full or partial sunlight. In regions with hot summers and arid climates, providing light shade becomes crucial, particularly during the intense afternoon hours. When cultivating aeonium plants indoors, it is advisable to position them near a window that receives abundant, indirect light for a minimum of six to eight hours daily. If you observe the presence of white or brown markings on the leaf tips, it serves as an indication that your aeonium plants are receiving excessive direct sunlight and should be relocated to a more suitable spot.

• Soil

Regardless of whether you choose to cultivate your succulents indoors or outdoors, it is essential to select a suitable planting medium. Ideally, opt for sandy loam or a standard potting mix that has been enriched with perlite. It is advisable to avoid using a mixture specifically designed for succulents and cacti, as this combination tends to be less moisture-retentive than what aeonium plants require. Should you decide to grow your aeonium plants in a conventional garden bed with compact soil, it is recommended to amend the soil with peat moss. This addition will enhance the porosity of the soil, ensuring better drainage and aeration for the roots of your aeonium plants.

How to Grow and Care Aeoniums

• Water

When aeonium plants are planted in outdoor settings, they generally rely on rainfall to fulfill their watering needs. However, when growing aeoniums indoors, it is important to adopt a watering routine that allows the soil to dry out to a depth of around an inch or two before providing a thorough soak at the base of the plant. It is worth noting that during the peak of summer and winter, when aeoniums typically enter a dormant phase, watering should be significantly reduced. Moisture should only be supplied when the leaves of the plant begin to show signs of shriveling. While aeoniums do appreciate slightly more moisture compared to some other succulents, it is crucial to avoid excessive watering or allowing them to sit in saturated soil, as this can lead to root rot.

How to Grow and Care Aeoniums

• Climate Conditions Moisture Levels

Aeonium plants thrive in a climate that resembles the Mediterranean region, characterized by moderate temperatures, balanced moisture levels, and a lack of extreme dryness. It is important to note that the majority of aeonium varieties are only able to withstand the conditions found in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. Consequently, in many locations, these plants are primarily cultivated indoors. To promote healthy growth in high-temperature environments, it is advisable to grow aeoniums in soil that is both moist and shaded. However, it is worth mentioning that the true growth season for aeoniums occurs during late winter through spring when temperatures range from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and the atmosphere is slightly damp. During this period, these ideal conditions facilitate the optimal development of aeonium plants.

• Fertilizer

To achieve optimal results, it is recommended to provide your aeonium plants with a half-strength balanced fertilizer during their active growth season. The frequency of fertilization will depend on the maturity of the plants and the nutrient content of the soil. Young aeonium plants may benefit from monthly applications of fertilizer, whereas more mature plants can thrive with a single feeding in the spring. When applying fertilizer, ensure that it is distributed at soil level, taking care to avoid excessive contact with the leaves. It is important to note that fertilization should be avoided when the aeonium plants are in their dormant phase.

How to Grow and Care Aeoniums

Types of Aeonium

  • Aeonium arboreum: This widely available plant exhibits bright green rosettes arranged on a branching stem. It possesses a shrubby growth habit and can reach heights of up to 6 feet when planted in a garden, or around 3 feet when grown in containers.
How to Grow and Care Aeoniums
  • Aeonium arboreum Atropurpureum: This cultivar attains a height of 3 to 5 feet and displays maroon leaves when exposed to bright light.
How to Grow and Care Aeoniums
  • Aeonium arboreum Zwartkop or Black Rose: Characterized by its strikingly dark foliage, this particular cultivar showcases deep burgundy or nearly black leaves. It is also known for its relatively large size.
How to Grow and Care Aeoniums
  • Aeonium Garnet: Created through a hybrid cross between A. ‘Zwartkop’ and A. tabuliforme, this variety features leaves that are green in the center and adorned with dark red tips.
How to Grow and Care Aeoniums
  • Aeonium davidbramwelli Sunburst: Although shorter in stature, reaching heights of 1 to 2 feet, this variety showcases rosettes that can span up to 1 foot in diameter. The leaves display pale yellow, white, and green stripes, with pink-tipped edges.
How to Grow and Care Aeoniums
  • Aeonium haworthii Tricolor or Kiwi: Known for its ease of cultivation, this 2 to 3-foot tall plant produces 4-inch flowers. These flowers initially possess pale yellow centers, which gradually transition to a combination of red and green as they mature.
How to Grow and Care Aeoniums

How to Propagate

By propagating aeonium, you can expand your collection significantly as a single cutting has the potential to yield multiple plants due to the branching nature of the plant. Aeoniums, like many other succulents, are highly amenable to propagation from cuttings, and even detached stem pieces that have fallen off the plant can effortlessly establish roots when placed in the nearby soil. It is advisable to carry out the propagation process during the spring, as it coincides with the plant’s active growth phase. Below are the steps to propagate aeonium from cuttings:

To propagate aeonium from cuttings, carefully cut off a younger stem piece with a leaf rosette using a clean and sharp cutting tool. Allow the cut end to heal by placing the cutting horizontally in a dry, warm, and shaded spot for approximately three days to form a callus that prevents root rot.

Prepare a small pot by filling it with a mixture of half potting soil and half cactus or succulent potting mix. Insert the callused end of the cutting into the potting mix, ensuring it is planted upright but not too deep.

Place the pot in a well-lit area with indirect sunlight and water lightly once a week, making sure the pot has proper drainage. As the plant develops strong roots, allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry out before watering again.

Potting and Transplanting

Aeoniums are an excellent choice for container gardening due to their minimal soil requirements. Growing them in containers allows for a closer observation of their unique characteristics and provides greater control over their growing conditions. When selecting a pot for your aeonium, prioritize containers with sufficient drainage holes at the base to prevent waterlogged soil, stagnant water, and the onset of root rot. Opting for containers made of moisture-wicking materials such as terracotta or clay can also aid in maintaining optimal soil moisture levels.

The ideal time to pot or repot your aeonium is during the spring months when the plants are actively growing. Annually refreshing the soil is recommended, whether by adding fresh soil to the existing container or transferring the plant to a larger pot if it has outgrown its current one. Signs that your aeonium requires repotting include stunted growth, excessively rapid soil drying, or roots emerging from the container’s drainage holes. Generally, most aeonium varieties will benefit from a new pot every two to three years.

Common Pests

Aeoniums, like many other plants, can be susceptible to common pests such as aphids, mealybugs, mites, and scale insects. However, there is another pest that requires your attention: ants. Ants are attracted to the sugary secretions produced by aphids and mealybugs, which in turn can lead to ant infestations on your succulents. Dealing with ants on aeoniums, especially those with tight buds or rosette leaves can be challenging. To address this issue, one approach is to place ant bait near the affected plants to lure the ants away. Once the ants have been successfully eliminated, you can then focus on treating the other pests. To eliminate aphids, mealybugs, mites, and scale insects, you can use a gentle spray of water or a mild insecticidal soap to effectively remove them from the plant.

How to Grow and Care Aeoniums

Common Problems

Caring for aeoniums can be both straightforward and challenging due to certain behaviors that may mistakenly indicate the plant is in decline. To ensure successful care, consider the following tips when tending to your aeoniums.

Leaves Falling Off

It is entirely normal for the lower leaves of the aeonium’s rosette to naturally shed. During this process, the rosette may also close up slightly. Although the plant may appear as if it is dying, it is likely entering its dormant stage, which typically occurs during the winter and summer seasons, especially when grown outdoors. In such cases, no specific action is required from you as the caregiver simply allow the plant to rest and refrain from attempting to intervene.

However, if you observe leaves falling off your aeonium during an unexpected period, it could indicate that the succulent is experiencing stress. To differentiate between normal shedding and stress-induced leaf loss, observe whether the rosette is also closing up or curling in addition to the leaf shedding. If you notice these additional signs, it may be beneficial to provide the plant with some water. Watch for any improvement in the rosette’s openness and uncurling, even though the shedding of leaves may persist.

How to Grow and Care Aeoniums

Brown Leaves

When aeonium plants receive excessive sunlight, their leaves can become sunburned, resulting in white or brown discoloration along the edges. Regrettably, once this damage occurs, it cannot be reversed. Your options are to either remove the scorched leaves or allow them to naturally fall off. Additionally, it is advisable to relocate the plant to a location that receives slightly less direct sunlight to prevent further sunburn.

How to Grow and Care Aeoniums

Declining Main Stem

When you have a branching aeonium with the main mother plant that has completed its flowering cycle, you may notice that the branch appears to be in a state of decline. Indeed, it is dying. However, there is a way to salvage the plant. By using a sharp and clean cutting tool, you can carefully remove the head of the branch where the rosette and flowers have already bloomed. Initially, the appearance may not be aesthetically pleasing, but you will likely find that the branch contains offshoots or “babies” that will continue to grow and eventually produce their own flowers.

By taking this proactive step, you have the opportunity to rejuvenate the dying branch and ensure the continuation of the plant’s life cycle.

How to Grow and Care Aeoniums