Overview and Description:Aeoniums are odd looking succulents, with long, arching stems and rosettes of leaves that can often look fake. You'd be forgiven if you had to touch one to tell if it was real or rubbery plastic. There are about 35 species and most are native to the Canary Islands and like a Mediterranean climate - not too hot, not too cold, not too dry.
The plants form fleshy rosettes and you will notice a similarity between Aeoniums and several other succulent plants, most noticeably Echeveria and Sempervivum. Aeoniums can be low growers or branched plants that grow into shrubs.
- Leaves: Rosettes with somewhat rounded leaves. Stems can be short and stubby or long and branched. Leaves can be solid colors or variegated int white, yellow, red and green.
- Flowers: Flowers stems emerge from the center of the rosettes. The small, star-like flowers grow in clusters.
Common Name(s):The genus Aeonium does not have a common name.
Hardiness:Most are only hardy in USDA Zones 9 – 11. They can withstand occasional frosts down to about 25̊F (-4̊C).
Light Exposure:Full sun to partial shade. In hot summers and desert conditions, light shade is necessary.
Mature Size:Size will vary greatly with variety. Some are low growing and get only a few inches tall, with rosettes an inch or two across. Other will branch out and grow 3 – 4 feet tall with plate sized rosettes.
Bloom Period:Most bloom in late winter or spring.
Design Tips:Needing so little soil, Aeoniums make great container plants. You can get a closer look at their unique features and have better control over their growing conditions. In high humidity or rainy areas, you won't even need to water them, although they do need regular water, so keep close tabs on them. Using a regular potting soil, rather than a fast draining soil for succulents, will help maintain their moisture level.
When grown in the garden, Aeoniums command the most attention in masses. Tall varieties can look like bonsai when they get shrubby. You can trim them if they get leggy. The cuttings will readily root and help you fill out your planting area.
- Aeonium arboreum – Widely available. Bright green rosettes on a branching stem.
- Aeonium arboreum 'Atropurpureum' – Maroon leaves, if grown in bright light.
- Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop' – Very dark, almost black leaves.
- Aeonium 'Garnet' - A hybrid of 'Zwartkop', with red leaves.
- Aeonium davidbramwelli 'Sunburst' – Rosettes up to 1 foot across. Pale yellow, white and green stripes, with pink tips. Can handle some frost.
- Aeonium haworthii ‛Tricolor' or ‛Kiwi' – Easy growing. 4 inch rosettes have pale yellow centers when young, maturing to red and green.
Keep reading for tips on growing Aeoniums and using them in the garden.