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How to Care for Your Succulents

Group of Succulents

Our expert guide to help you to plant, pot and water your succulents successfully indoors and out.

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Group of Succulents

Pots and planting

When selecting the right pot and soil mix for your succulents its very important to consider where the succulents will be grown.

Choose a pot with a drainage hole if you can’t control the watering (outdoors).

Use a small layer of gravel or grit in the bottom of the pot so your succulents won’t be sitting in water. It is recommended to water your succulents in after planting to help settle their roots.

Soil mix

We recommend using a standard general multipurpose compost mix or a John Innes number 2 (sandy soil mix) and adding 30% to 40% by volume of drainage media in the form of sand, grit or our favourite perlite. This will give you a free draining soil mix which is very important for the health of your succulents. Our Succulent Compost Mix is perfectly designed for our succulents.

Soil recipe Percentage Parts
Compost 60% to 70% 6 to 7 parts
Grit, perlite, sand or a blend of all three 30% to 40% 3 to 4 parts

Without proper drainage, your succulents might suffer from root rot and struggle, especially in the winter months. Always make sure your drainage holes don’t become blocked.

Having proper drainage gives you the desert like conditions that succulents need to thrive. Most succulents will love bright light and airy conditions, but some will love shady conditions. Knowing your succulent requirements is crucial when selecting placement and compatibility.

Unlike other plants and due to their waxy leathery leaves, succulents can tolerate very windy conditions and still be very happy.

There are even many succulents that can survive in low temperatures below freezing if free draining conditions are met. This can normally be found on vertical free draining walls, rockery beds, or a windy dry part of the garden.

Watering

Over watering is the most common cause of succulent problems. Dependant on where you are going to keep your succulents depends on how often you need to water them.

Keeping outside

If keeping your succulents outside, you can probably get away with never watering your plants here in the UK. The rain every few weeks in the summer should be sufficient to give your plants enough water. Succulents store a high percentage of their water in their leaves and stems so they don’t need to be in continuous wet soil to draw up moisture like other plants. In fact, you will find that allowing the soil to dry out in between watering will make your colours more vibrant and stronger, giving you a hardier stronger succulent.

Keeping indoors or under glass

When keeping your succulents indoors it is best to allow for the soil to become dry in between waterings. When you do decide to water, it is best to soak them, this will replicate a torrential down pour (heavy rain shower). Little and often is not a good idea. You want your succulents to reach its roots out and develop a strong, robust root system trying to find nutrients and moisture. Achieving this will give you a much hardier and stronger plant.

Depending on the inside temperatures, you might water once a month or once a week. If your house has central heating turned on, then you may find your pots drying out faster. The best way to tell if it is dry is to pick up the pot and try to get a feel by the weight of the pot to figure out if it needs water.

This might sound completely different to keeping normal plants but we believe this is what makes succulents a joy to keep as they are very low maintenance plants. The more you leave them alone the more they will reward you with growth rates and stunning colours and form. We often get asked how do our succulents have such good colours and it is because we keep our succulents in this way.

For example, the Aeonium Glandulosum commonly known as disc houseleek, can be a lush green colour but when kept in dry conditions it can turn a deep vibrant red.  This plant will also change colour before flowering.

If your colours are looking washed out and not as vibrant, it might be worth cutting back on your watering regime or simply not potting your plants on. Once your succulents start competing for water and nutrients you will often find the colours will become naturally enhanced simply because you are replicating their natural dry conditions.  Often people think that you need more water and feed to enhance the colours but it’s often the opposite. In fact, less is more for these fascinating plants.

Light levels

Selecting a plant for the right conditions you have at home is crucial. You might find that you get odd growing formations know as reaching. This can simply be because you’re not providing enough natural light for the plant you have chosen.  Haworthias are great indoor plants suited to lower light conditions but at the same time can tolerate high light conditions. Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ and Aeonium tabuliforme (dinner plate) are a good choice for shady conditions, but will often fade or yellow out and even suffer from leaf burn if light conditions are too strong. Some Aeoniums would be green in colour if they were not receiving enough light to produce their dark leaf pigments. This is often found in the winter months when light levels are lower.  You need to monitor to see if your succulents are growing with the right growth formation and vibrant colours for which they are known.

Growth rates

To ensure you’re getting good growth rates from your succulents we normally recommend that you refresh your soil every year. If planted in pots this can be easily achieved. If outside permanently planted in the ground, we recommend feeding with a general all-purpose plant food.

If you want to slow growth rates down, then simply leave your soil to run out of nutrients. This will stop your plants growing as fast, it can be several months before the plant will run out of nutrients and become detrimental to it’s health. It will happily survive, as these plants originate from low nutrient deserts like conditions with little rainfall, so they are well adapted to be without.

Aeoniums

The main growing season for Aeoniums is in spring and especially in the autumn. This is because the temperature and light levels are favourable for this type of succulent. This type of succulent will often go dormant in the summer, this can be seen when the growing rosettes draw in to a closed tighter leaf formation and often outer leaves will dry up and drop off. When this happens this type of succulent will happily live off of its own nutrients and water stored in its leaves and stem. They are in a dormant state and will not accept water from its root system. This is normal, so don’t try to over water this type of succulent during the hot summer months. You will see the rosettes and leaves open up when it has come out of dormancy and now requires watering again.

Echeveria

Echeverias are a type of succulent that displays a wide variety of colours and sizes. From tight compact clump forming varieties to surreal shaped leafy giants. Their colours can range from green, pink, red, purple, blue, black, brown and even white with often multi colour leaves in one specimen. Examples such as Echeveria subsessilis, Echeveria setosa var. deminuta or Echeveria colorata ‘Desert Harmony’.

Echeverias will grow from spring right through till autumn. During the winter months they will go dormant as the temperature drops beneath 10oc. Below these temperature they will appreciate being on the dry side. Remove any dead leaves and sparingly water these succulents until spring or temperatures warm up. Make sure the roots are dry before watering during this period.

For more impressive growth rates and healthier succulents for the winter, we re-pot with a higher nutrient based compost. You can even add a 3-month slow release fertilizer in mid spring to the standard mix above. This will encourage new off sets and plenty of flowers. The overall health will then be much stronger heading into the winter months.

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Ebony – May 2024

Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony’ is the Surreal Succulents Plant of the Month for May. The selection of this plant is well-earned due to its dramatic and unique colouration, which is particularly striking as it reaches full bloom at this time of year.

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Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony’ is the Surreal Succulents Plant of the Month for May. The selection of this plant is well-earned due to its dramatic and unique colouration, which is particularly striking as it reaches full bloom at this time of year.

‘Ebony’ is a standout in our show gardens, known for its extremely contrasting colours and eye-catching shape. It’s a favourite among us and many succulent enthusiasts.

Originating from the arid regions of Mexico, ‘Ebony’ is believed to be a natural hybrid, although its exact origins remain a mystery. This highly sought-after plant is rarely available due to its propagation challenges, so be sure to get yours while you can!

Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony’

£14.95

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Superbang – Apr 2024

Plant of the Month for April is Aeonium ‘Superbang’. This ‘super’ cultivar has been chosen due to its incredible array of colours, ranging from bright limes and creamy-whites in the winter to deep reds and pinks in the summer.

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Plant of the Month for April is Aeonium ‘Superbang’. This ‘super’ cultivar has been chosen due to its incredible array of colours, ranging from bright limes and creamy-whites in the winter to deep reds and pinks in the summer. As it is changing colour at an increasingly fast rate at this time of year, we thought it deserved this award.

It is a common feature of our award-winning RHS show gardens due to its unique colouration. It adds an extra layer of contrast and beauty to our display.

It is thought to be a variety of the wonderful and popular Aeonium ‘Velour’, but this is not confirmed. It can grow to around 50cm tall and 50cm wide with multiple stages of offsets, creating a cascade of admiration.

If you have a shaded spot to fill in your collection, this will provide the perfect splash of colour to satisfy your demands.

Aeonium ‘Superbang’

£28.50

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Blushing Beauty – Mar 2024

This Aeonium captivates with its colourful hues of orange and red, which intensify as daylight increases during this season, unveiling its beauty previously concealed by winter’s darkness.

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Introducing Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’, our featured Plant of the Month for March. This exceptional cultivar, a cross between Aeonium canariensis and Aeonium ‘Schwarzkopf’, was developed in the United States by the esteemed horticulturist Jack Catlin, known for his award-winning creations. Notably, Jack also bred Aeonium ‘Velour’, the sibling seedling of Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’.

This Aeonium captivates with its colourful hues of orange and red, which intensify as daylight increases during this season, unveiling its beauty previously concealed by winter’s darkness.

Having cultivated this variety for many years, we’ve frequently showcased it in our RHS display gardens, where its consistent growth and abundant offsets have impressed. Some specimens have flourished to impressive dimensions of 3 feet by 3 feet.

If you seek an Aeonium with compact growth and multiple branches, look no further. This stunning plant promises to delight, particularly when illuminated by the gentle touch of spring sunlight. Easy and rewarding to grow a true standout in the world of Aeoniums.

Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’

£7.50

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Aeonium Spring Care Masterclass

In this article, we delve into what to expect during the spring season and provide valuable insights for both seasoned growers and newcomers to these stunning plants. From propagation to growing tips, we offer guidance to help you along your journey.

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Introduction 

The vibrant days of colour-changing are upon us as winter transitions into spring, and the gentle return of warm winds breathes new life into our Aeoniums. In this article, we delve into what to expect during the spring season and provide valuable insights for both seasoned growers and newcomers to these stunning plants. From propagation to growing tips, we offer guidance to help you along your journey. We encourage you to take the time to read and would be immensely grateful for your experienced comments, which can help others cultivate these magnificent plants

Colour Change

Spring is a thrilling time for Aeonium growers, as the cold, dark days of winter give way to the brighter, warmer days of spring. Not only does the weather improve, but you’ll also notice rapid changes in the health and colours of your Aeoniums. At the nursery, we observe these changes as early as mid-February. As soon as we get a full day of sun, the Aeoniums’ colours really begin to transform. A prime example is Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty,’ which shifts from lime green to an orangey-pink hue. Dark-leafed varieties like Schwarzkopf start the Spring with a green rosette, but as light levels increase, they transition to their more commonly known almost black rosettes.

Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’
Aeonium ‘Schwarzkopf’

Coming out of Winter

Understanding how spring affects your Aeoniums is crucial for deciding what to do next, such as repotting, taking cuttings, feeding, or watering. Gone are the uncertain days; spring gives us confidence that our Aeoniums will respond positively to whatever we choose to do with them. The increased light levels that spring offers are what the Aeoniums have been craving all winter. The sun’s energy is a vital source of power for our plants, providing them with the energy they need to thrive. Whether we’re taking cuttings or simply potting them into larger containers, our plants will respond positively and deliver great results. Spring is undoubtedly the time of year to tackle all of these tasks.

Rescuing Aeoniums from Winter Darkness.

Aeoniums can suffer during the winter months due to several reasons, such as low light, overwatering, lack of airflow, or pest infestation. However, don’t give up hope; if there is life, there is more than a chance to recover and restore them to their former glory.

Spring offers the sun’s energy, which is the catalyst for an Aeonium’s return to its natural beauty. Using our tried and tested potting-on techniques will only encourage fresh, healthy plant growth

Late Frosts

Spring may have arrived, but winter can still have a sting in its tail. It’s crucial to keep an eye on the forecasts. There’s nothing worse than being caught out by a late frost that could potentially kill or damage your special Aeoniums. Depending on where you live, if you’re planting or moving your Aeoniums outdoors, it’s best to do so when the risk of frost has completely passed. This might be mid-April in the south of the UK, or well into May or even June the further north you go. If you do decide to move them outside early, fleece is always an option if the weather turns colder.

Aeonium holospathulatum

Weather

In addition to cold spells, other weather events can also affect the appearance of your Aeoniums. Hailstones, for example, can leave marks or scars on the leaves, causing superficial damage that will eventually grow out but will affect the appearance for a short period

Rain during the spring isn’t usually an issue; the plants will take what they need. As long as you have a good, free-draining soil mix, you shouldn’t expect any root rot.

With the likelihood of heatwaves increasing due to climate change, they can also be detrimental to the health of an Aeonium by disrupting its natural dormancy schedule. While summer heat naturally encourages dormancy in an Aeonium, an unnatural heatwave in spring can trigger early dormancy, confusing the plant during its growing season. To maintain your Aeonium’s health during any spring heatwave, consider moving it to a cooler part of the garden and avoid overwatering.

Sunburn

Sunburnt leaves are a common issue observed in Aeoniums, typically occurring when plants are abruptly moved from a shaded area to direct sunlight, especially during the intense spring sunshine. This rapid transition causes the leaves to blister, just like early spring sun can burn human skin. To mitigate this, gradually expose Aeoniums to increased sunlight over time. This can be achieved by carefully increasing their exposure to direct sunlight. During the peak hours of sunlight usually between 11am and 3pm, provide shade by positioning the plant near a wall or under the canopy of another plant to create a protective shadow, you could also cover them with a fleece to shade them. After 10 days your Aeonium should be acclimatized.  

Potting On

Spring is an ideal time to repot your Aeoniums. For best results, remove all the old soil to inspect the root system and eliminate any unwanted pests, such as vine weevil. Replace it with a fresh mix of compost, ideally a blend of 60-70% standard multi-purpose peat-free compost and 30-40% perlite or grit.

If the Aeonium hasn’t outgrown its pot, you can keep it in the same one. However, for a larger specimen, we recommend using at least a 4-litre pot. A good potting technique involves placing a small amount of compost at the bottom of the pot, then holding the Aeonium in one hand, suspending it in the desired position. If possible, bury the stem slightly deeper, as this adds stability and encourages new root growth, resulting in a faster-growing, stronger plant. Firm the soil around the roots, ensuring no air pockets, and lightly water so the soil is damp but not wet. It’s important to allow oxygen to reach the new roots for a quicker-growing, healthier root system.

During the spring, water your Aeoniums roughly twice a week, ensuring the soil doesn’t completely dry out, as the roots will still be young. Place your Aeoniums in a sunny spot with good airflow. If there’s a heatwave, move them into a shadier position, as Aeoniums will stop all root growth if forced into dormancy by hot weather.

After about 6 weeks, the roots should have developed and reached the side of the pot. At this stage, you can feed them if needed with a seaweed solution or chicken manure on the surface, which will naturally wash through the soil during waterings.

Propagation

There’s no better feeling than creating your own plants, and the beginning of spring offers the best opportunity to do this. Aeoniums can be propagated through various methods, including leaf and stem cuttings, or even from seeds. Each of these techniques has its own advantages, but the quickest and easiest way is definitely through stem cuttings.

Look for a nice healthy rosette with a stem of roughly 10cm; longer or shorter is fine too. Take a sharp pair of garden snips and make a clean cut 10cm down from the rosette. This can be either an older stem or a softer, greener stem, but at this time of year, it doesn’t matter, as both will take very quickly. Allow the cutting to dry out, but place it in a cool, bright, frost-free area with airflow. Do not leave it in direct sunlight, as this will add unwanted stress to the cutting.

After 5-10 days, the cutting would have calloused over where it had been cut. This process stops unwanted bacteria from getting into the open wound when planted. It also stops rot from running up the stem. You can dip the cutting in rooting hormone, which speeds up the rooting process.

Now fill the pot with a peat-free compost mixed with 40% horticultural sand or perlite. Poke a hole and place the cutting into a pot no bigger than 7cm. The smaller the pot, the better, as it helps the airflow around the stem to stimulate root growth, oxygenate the roots, and help them develop. Bury the cutting ¾ of the way into the compost, leaving a gap between the bottom layer of leaves and the compost. This helps the air get below the leaves.

Now place the cutting into a warm position with plenty of airflow, but out of direct sunshine. Keep the soil damp, not wet, and after 6 weeks, you will have yourself a brand new plant ready to be potted into a larger pot. It’s important to note that Aeoniums want to grow, and if you give them room to spread their roots so they can take in nutrients and water during the growing season, you will see amazing results.

Upsizing your Rooted Cuttings 

If you have smaller cuttings, we find the quickest way to get them to a larger size is to gradually increase the pot size. For example, if your cutting has rooted to the sides of a 7cm pot, its next pot can be a 1-litre pot. Use our “times by 3” potting-on method; Aeoniums love it.

Once the roots of the Aeonium are touching the sides of the pot, go from a 1-litre to a 3-litre pot. Once rooted in a 3-litre pot, you can “times by 3” again and jump up to a 9 or 10-litre pot. An Aeonium should then reach full maturity in a 10-litre pot, but some varieties can continue to be upsized into a 20-litre pot if required.

Pests 

With warmer weather comes the emergence of pests. Generally, when growing Aeoniums outside during the spring and summer, there are natural predators that will prey on these pests. Insects such as wasps and ladybirds will eat aphids, while birds will pick out mealybugs. Additionally, heavy rainfall can wash away aphids.

During spring, the damage caused by vine weevils is primarily due to adult vine weevils. These elusive, beetle-like creatures emerge under the cover of darkness to nibble on the edges of leaves. We discovered that by venturing out at night, we could easily pluck them off the plants.

Typically, we find one vine weevil per plant, and each adult can lay up to 500 eggs. Therefore, it’s highly beneficial to grab your torch and explore your garden to prevent further infestation.

“Slugs and snails may nibble on and taste Aeoniums when introduced into gardens, but over time, their preference for Aeoniums tends to diminish. If you have a large infestation of slugs and snails, there are nematodes that can reduce their numbers. Alternatively, you can head outside on a damp evening and remove them by hand. However, it’s important not to simply throw them over your wall. It’s best to take them at least 2 miles away, as within their lifetimes, they can make their way back to your garden.”

We recommend that when it comes to pests, there’s no greater or safer way to remove them without the need for chemicals than by hand. Get yourself a fine pair of tweezers, and with determination, you will single-handedly remove these unwanted creatures.

In addition to commercial soapy sprays, there are numerous homemade remedies that can effectively deter pests. While many of these recipes are readily available online, we encourage you to share your own in the comments section to help others combat garden pests more effectively.

Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’

Feeding 

Proper watering and feeding are essential for healthy growth. However, if you desire more vigorous growth, Aeoniums respond well to feeding.

A simple and effective feed for growing Aeoniums is chicken manure pellets scattered over the soil surface. Aeoniums readily absorb this natural feed. Alternatively, you can use liquid seaweed feed or slow-release fertilizers, but it’s advisable only to use a slow-release fertilizer once the Aeonium has established strong root growth.

Watering

In spring, the key to watering is allowing the soil to completely dry out between waterings, which is influenced by the weather if grown outside. If rain is forecast for the week, there’s no need to worry about watering Aeoniums grown outdoors as they will take what they need naturally. However, during a heatwave, it’s recommended to move your Aeonium to a shady spot, this allows you to continue watering to encourage growth. If it remains in full sun, refrain from watering to avoid confusing the plant, which could lead to stem rot, especially for certain varieties more prone to this issue.

High humidity spotting

How to water, Aeoniums don’t mind having wet foliage but it’s important to water the plants as early as possible during sunny days as water on the leaves can act like a magnifying glass and burn the leaves. It is possible to just water the soil which is absolutely fine but sometimes you may want to wash the rosette in case any dust has landed on the leaves, this will also make your Aeonium more attractive.

Timing of watering is also crucial for optimal Aeonium growth, we water our Aeoniums in the morning allowing the plants to take up the water during the days and allowing enough time during the day for the soil and surrounding area to dry out. Aeoniums don’t like high humidity especially during the night as it can cause respiratory issues that can also lead to blotchy marks on leaves. If you ever come across this do not discard your Aeonium as there is nothing wrong with it, and a change in watering to mornings will hopefully prevent this from happening again in the future.

Creating Displays

Aeoniums are among the best plants to create jaw-dropping displays. Not only are they drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, and visually stunning, but they also come in a multitude of colours, sizes, and forms, making them an easy all-around plant to work with.

Planting up a pot full of Aeoniums can be so rewarding. It’s important to choose Aeoniums with these three key features in mind: balance, colour, and form.

Here, we have used these Aeoniums to create a balanced planting display.

Or simply create a dramatic focal point with a single plant that deserves its own spotlight.

Aeoniums can even be planted out in the garden during the summer months and lifted again in the winter. There are no limits to what you can achieve with good quality plants and a bit of imagination.

Flowering

Aeoniums boast exquisite rosette formations and produce stunning flower stems adorned with thousands of delicate blossoms, each brimming with delightful nectar. While yellow is the prevalent hue for Aeonium flowers, variations in colour such as white, pink, and deep red are also observed. Their flowering cycle initiates during winter but unfolds with the warming weather and the presence of abundant pollinators. Each flower lasts just a few days, but the plant slowly staggers each flower’s opening, giving you a flowering display that can last well over a month.

Some Aeoniums even flower later into the summer. However, don’t expect flowers every season, as some varieties like Aeonium Schwarzkopf can take up to 12 years to produce their first flower spike, while other varieties may take only 3 years.

Preparing for Summer 

As we head into late spring, the chances of frosts become less and less likely, so now is the time to position your Aeoniums in places where you can admire their beauty the most. Outdoor dining areas such as patios and balconies are ideal settings for these eye-catching plants, creating an atmosphere and a talking point among friends and visitors during warm summer evenings.

Try incorporating them into gardens by mixing them into borders with other plants; they look incredibly beautiful in and around soft grasses like Stipa tenuissima (Nassella tenuissima).

In conclusion, spring is a crucial time for Aeoniums, as they transition from slow winter growth to active growth. This season offers the perfect opportunity to repot, propagate, and care for these stunning plants. By understanding their needs and providing the right conditions, you can enjoy healthy, vibrant Aeoniums throughout the year. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, spring is the time to take action and ensure your Aeoniums thrive.

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Sedum moranense – Feb 2024

Our Plant of the Month for February goes to the delightful evergreen Sedum moranense, native to Mexico and thriving in the upper mountainous regions of the country at elevations between 2,800-4,200 meters above sea level. This incredibly hardy plant is known to withstand temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius.

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Our Plant of the Month for February goes to the delightful evergreen Sedum moranense, native to Mexico and thriving in the upper mountainous regions of the country at elevations between 2,800-4,200 meters above sea level. This incredibly hardy plant is known to withstand temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius.

We’ve been cultivating this particular Sedum for many years, and it’s truly a year-round stunner. Its compact growth form features leaves that spiral up the stems, complemented by beautiful star-shaped white flowers that grace the tips of each stem in spring. Normally evergreen but sedum has the tendency to develop red colouring during periods of drought.

The versatility of Sedum moranense knows no bounds. Whether placed indoors on a sunny windowsill or outdoors in any season, it thrives in every setting we’ve tried. Propagation is a easy, simply take a sprig and plant it wherever you desire more of this Sedum’s beauty.

Come drought, rain, or freezing temperatures, this plant remains a stellar choice for any garden or indoor space.

Sedum moranense

£6.95

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Echeveria elegans – Jan 2024

For this month we have chosen Echeveria elegans, find out more about why we choose this stunning succulent for January’s plant of the month award.

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Echeveria elegans earns the title of Surreal Succulents’ January 2024 Plant of the Month. Selected for its exceptional hardiness, beauty, and adaptability, this versatile succulent excels in challenging conditions, presenting itself as a true master of survival. Its capacity to thrive in conditions that often challenge other Echeveria varieties sets it apart, making it a standout choice.

Echeveria elegans is the model of adaptability, flourishing in wetter, colder, and extremely hot conditions. This adaptability renders it a plant suitable for everyone, whether adorning a windowsill, gracing an outdoor pot, complementing a display, or thriving in a terrarium. The plant’s resilience extends to its stunning appearance, particularly when spring unveils its abundance of salmon pink flowers.

Winter Colours

One of Elegans’ unique features is its vibrant coloration, especially during colder months. As temperatures drop, the plant naturally produces sugars to safeguard itself from frosts, resulting in a delightful pink hue, as depicted in the images. As a species, Echeveria elegans has evolved to possess these remarkable adaptation skills, earning it a well-deserved place as a favorite in UK gardens.

Please feel free to comment and share your experiences of this beautiful Echeveria a true master of the succulent world.

Echeveria elegans

£6.95

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Aeonium Winter Care Masterclass

this article covers a wide range of challenges we all face, to list a few such as extreme weather, how to take cuttings and protecting from the cold frosty nights and day.

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Please take time to explore this masterclass of winter care for Aeoniums, sharing invaluable tips from our extensive experience nurturing these unique plants over the years.

We know the importance of protection for these stunning plants during winter, this article covers a wide range of challenges we all face, to list a few such as extreme weather, how to take cuttings and protecting from the cold frosty nights and days. Please enjoy the read, we are sure there’s some valuable information that helps you.

Winter Colours

As winter nears, your plants may undergo a colour shift. Darker varieties turn greener, while variegated Aeoniums shine with enhanced colours and patterns, serving as a winter reminder of brighter summer days. The transformation from mid-summer to mid-winter can make an Aeonium appear like a completely different variety making it difficult to identify.

Aeonium ‘Blood’ in Summer
Aeonium ‘Blood’ in Winter

Light and Temperature 

Winter light is vital for Aeonium health and for keeping them compact. Inadequate light can result in leggy Aeonium growth, increasing vulnerability to pests and diseases.

Most Aeonium species grow in the sunny haven of the Canary Islands, where they have adapted to frost-free conditions. However, when cultivating them in colder regions like the UK where light levels dip and temperatures plummet, a bit of TLC is in order. Providing cover for Aeoniums significantly enhances their winter survival. Ideal options include a greenhouse, porch, or conservatory to shield them from the harshest weather. Full sun and temperatures between 6 and 12 Celsius during winter are ideal.

 If Aeoniums are kept in a conservatory above 15 degrees Celsius, they’ll be craving more light, potentially resulting in a leggier stature – unless you introduce some grow lights to mimic extended daylight hours. 

Light levels are crucial to keep your plants looking their best year-round, especially during the winter. Even when kept in cooler conditions, the higher the light levels, the healthier the plant. 

Pests and disease 

As temperatures cool, pest activity may dwindle, but don’t let your guard down – they’re still lingering. Aphids, mealy bugs, and sneaky caterpillars can hide among Aeonium leaves. Stay vigilant and swiftly remove any you spot. Pests lurking under the soil, like vine weevils, pose a threat by munching on Aeonium stems. Look for signs like a shrinking rosette, excessive leaf drop, a soft stem base, or even the plant toppling over. Early detection and removal go a long way in safeguarding your Aeoniums.

Aeoniums generally resist diseases, but maintaining good airflow is crucial to prevent any potential disease or fungal build-up.

Protecting from cold temperatures 

In the challenging UK winter, safeguarding Aeoniums from freezing is paramount. If you have a heated greenhouse or conservatory, maintain temperatures above 5°C. We recommend our tried and tested top-quality fleece for unheated greenhouses, protecting down to -10°C. Keeping them drier will encourage their natural defence mechanism, allowing them to withstand slightly lower temperatures. Nevertheless, vigilance is key; even in greenhouses, hard frosts can pose a threat, so monitor forecasts and always act when temperatures drop below 5°C.

Elevating plants above ground onto benches and shelves within a greenhouse can provide extra relief from the cold, as temperatures can be a few degrees warmer from ground level due to the cold air sinking. Place your plants on benches and shield them with fleece. In colder regions, insulate the greenhouse by lining the inside of the glass with horticultural bubble wrap. Consider installing glasshouse heaters to ward off extremely cold temperatures.

Cuttings

Winter is still a viable time for Aeonium cuttings. Opt for older stems rather than fresh growth for better success. Use sharp, clean garden snips to cut a rosette with a 3-4 inch stem. Let the cutting callous over for 3-5 days to prevent soil-borne infections. Prepare a mix of 50% multipurpose compost and 50% horticultural grit or perlite. Dip the cutting in rooting powder if available, make a hole in the mixture, and plant it. Ensure it’s in a bright spot with good airflow. Within three weeks, the cutting should root. Keep the soil slightly moist but not wet for optimal results.

Growth rate

While Aeoniums are often associated with winter growth, their optimal temperature for growth ranges between 15-21 degrees Celsius. Lower temperatures won’t halt their growth; instead, it will slow down the growth rate. The ideal time for Aeonium growth is during spring and autumn. Some areas of the UK may be better suited for Aeonium winter growth, such as inner cities and coastal regions, as temperatures are slightly higher. 

Dealing with extreme weather

In the face of extreme cold weather, safeguarding Aeoniums within a greenhouse can become relatively challenging. To help your plants through this period, consider trimming the rosettes or even harvesting entire plants, then bringing them indoors during these delicate times.

Once the cold spell subsides, place the Aeonium cuttings into empty pots without soil. They will happily sustain themselves, drawing on reserves stored in their stems and leaves. If extreme cold weather reappears, bring these cuttings back indoors for protection. By spring, there’s a high likelihood that the Aeoniums will have developed roots. You can then pot them up once spring arrives.

Wrong winter locations

Certain locations are a big no-no for Aeoniums during winter, such as a garage, dark room or a dark enclosed shed. These dry, dark and stale environments cause accelerated leaf drop, leggy stems, and an untidy appearance by spring, if they survive at all. These environments also invite pests, contributing to an unsightly outcome when the warmer weather of spring arrives. You want to keep them in bright, cool conditions with sufficient air flow for the best results.

Preparing for spring and flowering

As the Aeoniums prepare themselves for the following season, you may notice them beginning their flowering phase, if they do decide to flower. This process typically initiates with rosettes changing shape, often noticeable as early as November, readying a spectacular spring showcase. Gradually feed every 10 days with a well-balanced fertiliser as the warmer weather takes hold to encourage a more impressive flowering display. The long-lasting blossoms serve as a remarkable nectar source for bees, butterflies and other insects, especially outdoors in a sunny spot.

Aeonium ‘Red Edge’ head not going to flower
Aeonium ‘Red Edge’ flowering head

Watering and Feeding

When watering Aeoniums in winter, you must stay vigilant to the weather. Lower temperatures and diminished light levels mean slower plant growth, reducing the need for watering and feeding. Our practice involves watering every six weeks, occasionally supplementing with a seaweed solution feed if conditions allow (such as a mild winter). Unlike the growing season where we drench the soil, we limit the water they receive so the soil can dry out efficiently. Allowing the soil to dry between waterings can boost their health, excessive water during winter would mean the plant is also holding more moisture, which isn’t good when combined with freezing temperatures.

In the face of an imminent frost, it’s advisable to abstain from both watering and feeding altogether.

Growing outdoors in winter

Growing Aeoniums outdoors in winter is more feasible in coastal regions and inner cities, where temperatures tend to be milder compared to rural areas or valleys. Growing your Aeoniums in pots becomes advantageous due to the ability to move them away from approaching cold weather. Micro-climates within a garden, such as near windows, where escaping house heat provides warmth, courtyards, or balconies can serve as suitable locations as these add an element of protection. However, dropping temperatures might render these plants vulnerable to the cold. Creating protective structures or draping fleece over the plants on exceptionally cold nights can be the thing that keeps your Aeoniums alive.

It is crucial to guard against winter storms, particularly strong winds, as they can potentially harm the plants. Also, hailstones may leave marks on the leaves, so using fleece is advisable when hail is forecast. Potting or planting them in a well-draining soil mix is essential to prevent adverse effects from excessive water during the wetter months. Fortunately, Aeoniums generally handle water well in winter, especially outdoors where there is good air circulation. Feeding isn’t necessary during the winter if they’re grown outdoors.

Growing indoors during winter

Aeoniums can be grown indoors, so a suitable environment is crucial to keep your plants healthy. A suitable environment would be a bright and cool area with adequate airflow. If you do not have enough natural light available, grow lights can be helpful, and fans help keep plants healthy by circulating the air. 

Once dry, you should give them small amounts of water. You may notice the lower leaves dropping off. Do not worry; this is a natural process in the plant’s growth.

Selecting the right plant for your environment

Selecting the right Aeonium for your environment is crucial, as their hardiness varies. Some, like Aeonium ‘Phoenix Flame’ or Aeonium ‘Emerald Flame’, exhibit remarkable resilience, enduring temperatures as low as -6 or -7 degrees. To assist in identifying plants suitable for your garden, explore our website’s hardy filters for tailored recommendations.

Aeonium ‘Pheonix Flame’

Fleece usage

Using fleece to protect your plants during winter is an excellent strategy and extremely cost-effective. It allows about 30% less light to penetrate; the lower light level doesn’t negatively impact the plants beneath. Moreover, the fleece permits modest airflow, allowing the plants to stay healthy. If the fleece remains on for an extended period of time, it’s good to allow the plants to breathe on sunny winter days (but only if temperatures are above freezing). This allows you to inspect the plants and address potential issues like pests or fungal diseases that may have developed underneath. Remember, preserving your plants from frost damage is paramount, making the use of fleece a valuable protective measure.

Identifying plant health after frost 

In the unfortunate event of your plants enduring freezing temperatures, don’t lose hope – sometimes, all it takes is a bit of time and warmer weather to reveal their resilience in spring. However, if the frost has hit the plant, trimming off these damaged parts promptly is advisable. You can identify these parts by looking for black and mushy rosettes or stems. Like frostbite in animals and humans, this damage can spread, and early intervention minimises the further chances of damage and death. Light frosting may result in superficial damage, with dark stripes on the leaves indicating cell damage. Fortunately, this is something the plant can recover from, and by mid-spring, new growth will replace these affected leaves, especially after repotting and feeding.

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RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023

With July fast approaching and the RHS Hampton court flower show on the ...

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With July fast approaching and the RHS Hampton court flower show on the horizon, we would like to take a moment to look back at an amazing RHS Chelsea flower show 2023. Another massive achievement for Surreal Succulents is to have won our third gold medal in three years.

The dedicated hard work from the team helped us create a garden full of texture and colour. A massive thank you must go to Jack Drewitt, who worked tirelessly to hand build the wooden planters that included a beautiful Japanese-style burnt wood effect. The judges really loved the new look and feel of the display.

The wood effect combined with the corten steel planters and outstanding succulents were even more intriguing when lit up by the amazing lighting supplied by Lightpro professional outdoor lighting. This gave the garden a distinct new feel and it looked stunning under the cover of darkness on Gala night.

The stars of the show garden were undoubtedly the giant Aeonium ‘Deep Purple’ who stood proud and tall in the Grand Pavilion.

The show itself never ceases to deliver a fantastic atmosphere. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has the most amazing buzz that lasts the entire event. We met and chatted with so many kind and lovely visitors, answered many questions, and shared our passion for succulents. We can’t wait to go back again next year.

A huge thank you to all of our loyal customers and followers who make this dream possible. We want to continue to share this passion with you for many years to come.

From July 4th to July 9th, we will be attending this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, and we are so looking forward to seeing you there.

Explore the Garden

Constructing the Garden

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Welcome to the Wonderful World of Aeoniums

There are roughly 35 species of Aeonium which are members of the Crassul...

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There are roughly 35 species of Aeonium which are members of the Crassulaceae family. Most Aeonium species are native to the Canary Islands, but they can also be found in Madeira, Morocco, Cape Verde Islands and the East Coast of Africa.

Aeoniums are succulents that can survive in extremely dry and arid environments, they achieve this by storing water in their leaves and stems. Aeoniums come in many shapes and sizes, from the ornamental Aeonium ‘Medusa’ to the giant form of Aeonium ‘Pomegranate’ down to the tiny species Aeonium Aizoon.

Aeonium Pomegranate
Aeonium Pomegranate

Aeoniums are surprisingly incredibly easy to grow and require very little care and maintenance. In general, it is best to use a free-draining soil mix and keep your plants frost-free over the winter. You can use horticultural fleece to protect your Aeoniums from frost and hail stones if planted in the garden or potted up outside.

Most Aeoniums love full sun or part shade, the darker leaf varieties in particular love full sun, some other varieties of Aeonium such as the variegated forms and the Aeonium Tabuliforme, prefer part-shade or morning sunshine. 

Growing season

Aeoniums can grow all year round if the conditions suit them, but their main growing season is in the Spring and Autumn.

Dormant Aeoniums
Dormant Aeoniums

In the longer, hotter summer days you may see your Aeoniums becoming dormant, they prefer to grow in the cooler months’ each side of summertime. You can tell when your Aeoniums become dormant as the colours may darken right to the centre of the heads, or the heads of each rosette will bud or close like a rose bud. 

Dormant Aeoniums will shut down and not require any feeding or watering. It’s a bit like them going to sleep, over watering whilst dormant can kill your plants as they can suffer from stem or root rot. Just simply wait until the heads open up again before looking after them as normal.

You can move your Aeoniums to a cooler area with less light or a shady spot to stop this dormancy period, moving these plants will extend the amount of growth you will get in one season. 

During the winter months an Aeonium is still capable of growing but at a much slower rate, this is due to the overall temperature which is especially important during the night. The ideal growing night time temperatures for Aeoniums is between 12-16°C, and daytime temperatures between 18-22°C.

Growth and flowering

Flowering Aeonium
Flowering Aeonium

Aeoniums mainly grow in Spring and Autumn, feeding and watering the plants at these times of year will encourage plenty of growth.

Aeoniums don’t only possess great presence and structure but many varieties put on the most impressive flowering display. They produce large conical shaped flowering heads, these are covered in hundreds of daisy shaped flowers, each one packed full of sweet nectar that bees and insects absolutely adore. Flowering tends to be early in the growing season and can last for several months.

Soil mix

A simple compost mix for Aeoniums is 60% multi-purpose compost with 40% grit or perlite. This mix allows excellent drainage and air to move through the root system to encourage good robust, and healthy growth.

Watering Aeoniums 

A general rule for watering Aeoniums is to thoroughly drench the soil then let it dry out completely between waterings. If growing the plants outside in large pots or a garden during the summer, leave the watering to mother nature. If growing undercover then we recommend watering in the early mornings for best results.

Growing the perfect Aeonium

If you’re growing in pots or in the garden, the most important part of growing a big Aeonium is to establish a large root system. As Aeoniums grow the stems can become elongated, we recommend that when re-potting or planting out your Aeonium always bury the majority of the exposed stem deeper into the soil, this will encourage more roots and impressive growth. Another important point to consider is how these roots will be when the plant is large, as many Aeoniums can be top heavy, these extra roots will anchor your plant in position, and support it in strong winds.

To achieve a large root system, you want your plant to be hungry, this encourages root growth in search for food. 

We recommend planting Aeoniums in a fresh soil mix in the garden or in a pot. This fresh mix will usually contain enough food for one growing season. This will boost the plant and give it enough energy to establish a good anchor into the ground or pot. Once a large root system has been achieved, you can begin feeding. After the first year you can then use a standard good all-round feed or a slow-release fertilizer, water in a balanced soluble feed every two months to supplement the best Aeonium growth. If pot grown, you can repot each season. When repotting, it’s a good idea to clean off as much of the old soil as possible then pot up with a fresh soil mix, we always use this technique for our show plants.

Pest and Diseases

It’s important to always take good care of your succulents. A quick weekly visual inspection is a good way of keeping an eye on any pests or diseases that may affect your plants.

Many pests can affect Aeoniums such as Mealybugs, Aphids, Vine weevil, Caterpillars, slugs and snails.

Many pests like vine weevils can be treated with different types of Nematodes. Some pests like snails, caterpillars and mealy bugs can be manually removed, mealy bugs can also be treated with a 70% isopropanol mix. 

Group of Varigated Aeonium
Group of Varigated Aeonium

There are so many amazing Aeonium hybrids, such as the giant Aeonium ‘Pomegranate’, Aeonium ‘Voodoo’, Aeonium Tabuliforme x Nobile as well as hardy Aeoniums such as Aeonium ‘Phoenix Flame’ and sister seedling Aeonium ‘Emerald Flame‘ which are surprisingly hardy to  minus 7°C.

There are many variegated Aeoniums, which are sports or mutated forms of these already amazing Aeoniums. Many variegated forms were produced in China where they use many methods such as grafting, adjusting the PH of the soil mixes and even chemicals to educe or encourage plants to become variegated. It used to be incredibly rare to have a stable variegated Aeonium, as these would normally only occur from natural sports or mutations but now there are many new varieties available. 

Variegated varieties are well known for a slower growth rate than non-variegated forms, this is due to the lack of chlorophyll in the leaves to photosynthesise.  A massive advantage variegated Aeoniums have is the ability to grow brilliantly in lower light levels, they can be used to under plant larger plants or shady parts of the garden that need a bit brightening up during the summer. 

Variegated Aeoniums tend to need protection from the winter cold, and frosts

Growing tips

  • Grow in a bright sunny location
  • Use a free draining soil mix
  • Establish a large root system to maximise growth rates 
  • Once established feed regularly in the growing season
  • Water when dry and completely drench the plants and allow to dry again before watering, Drench Drain Dry 
  • Keep frost free over winter 
Aeonium

Aeoniums

We have a wide range of Aeoniums available on the website.

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Attributes Explained

We have categorised our plants based on a number of attributes to help y...

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We have categorised our plants based on a number of attributes to help you pick the right plant to buy. We’ve put together this guide to explain each of the attributes in more detail and what to look out for.

Colour

The Colour attribute represents the main colour seen in the plant throughout the main growing season, if you receive a plant that isn’t a similar colour or exactly like the plant in the image it may be due to the time of year as a succulent can colour up completely differently depending on whether it is Winter or Summer.

The colours of a succulent can also be affected by watering, feeding, weather and the position the plant was grown in. Over time if you give your plant everything it needs; the colours should return to the same colours as the images. 

We always do our best to photograph each plant true to its natural colour, and we are constantly improving our pictures so that it represents the plant as true to colour as possible.

Growth Form

The overall growth form of each plant is important to know as this will give you a great indication to where you can plant the succulent when you receive it.

Cluster/clumping a plant that will cluster into multiple heads and form a compact tidy appearance.

Pups/Pupping a plant that produces offsets from the root system, these emerge out of the soil next to the mother plant. Agaves are a prime example of this.

Single Rosette that offsets, a plant that grows on a stem that will offset as it ages, sometimes this can take a few years.

Single Rosette A stemless succulent with a compact rosette, these don’t tend to offset.

Single Stem A plant that grows on a single stem with a rosette at the top of the stem, these plants don’t always produce offsets.

Compact a plant that will grow into a very compact and neat form.

Branching a plant that will produce multiple layers of offsets, each offset will be attached to the main plant by a stem, these tend to be very easy to propagate.

Spreading a plant that will spread over an area if given the room and the correct conditions to do so.

Trailing a succulent that will trail out over the rim of pots and cascade down creating a waterfall effect.

Light Levels

Light Levels is a crucial attribute to take into consideration when deciding what plant to grow in your home or garden, this guide will help you decide the right succulent for you, whether you have full sun or loads of shade, this will help you determine the right succulent for your conditions. 

Shade a succulent that can tolerate and thrive in a shady position whether this is indoors or outside.

Part Shade a succulent that thrives in part shade, this is usually a plant that will need to be protected from the midday Sun, so morning or late afternoon sunlight would be ideal.

Full Sun a succulent that thrives in as much direct sunlight as possible.

Bright Windowsill a succulent that thrives in a windowsill that doesn’t get really strong sunlight, ideally a west or east facing windowsill away from the midday sun.

Or a North facing windowsill in the summer and a South facing windowsill in the winter.

Full Sun Windowsill a succulent that thrives in as much direct sunlight as possible, a nice south facing windowsill would be ideal.

for international buyers it’s important to note that these are based around the United Kingdom’s light levels.

Succulent Pot

Planting Location

Planting Location is a very important attribute to understand this will help you determine the correct succulent for your conditions whether this is indoors or out. Some succulents can only thrive when growing in an outside environment; this is due to the fact, they need plenty of air and natural sunlight, they may also grow too large for an indoor setting. 

Greenhouse a succulent that may need extra warmth especially at night so a greenhouse would be the ideal situation for this plant, plants in this attribute will also do very well outside during the warm summer months.

Indoor a succulent that will happily grow indoors in a naturally lit room or windowsill of your choice, check out light aspect attribute to determine the best succulents for your situation.

Patio a succulent that thrives in a pot on a sunny patio.

Dry Shade a succulent that will thrive in a shady position maybe under a bush/tree or up against a wall where they don’t receive much natural rainfall, these tend to be succulents that prefer to be protected from the midday sun.

Pot a succulent , happy to grow its whole life in a pot.

Wall where there may be a wall with a crack filled with soil for a succulent to be planted, Cornish dry-stone granite walls are ideal for these succulents.

Rockery a succulent that loves to be grow outside all year round in a great free draining soil mix and a top dress of gravel, even tender succulents can be planted in this situation and then lifted and protected for winter.

Garden a succulent that can be planted in the garden that is large enough to not be out competed by other shrubs and plants around it. Such as Agaves and large Aeoniums.

Windowsill a succulent that can be grown indoors on a windowsill.

Conservatory a succulent that will thrive in a nice warm conservatory away from the cold frosty winter evenings.

Mature Size

This attribute represents the overall size these succulents can eventually grow to, form tiny little plants such as Lithops and Haworthias to the giant tree Aloes of over 30ft tall. These succulents will only reach their full potential size if they are given the correct conditions to thrive in. Check out our, how to care for succulent’s guide. 

XSmall these succulents are as small as they come, growing no more than 6cm to 12cm when fully grown.

Small these range from 12cm to 30cm maximum size.

Medium these range from 30cm to 50cm maximum size.

Large these range from 50cm to 120cm maximum size 

XLarge these range from 120cm to over 30ft in some Aloe varieties.