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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.

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.

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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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.

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