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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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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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Agave Care Guide

Agave montana, Agave parryi var. truncata, Agave parryi 'cream spike'

Agaves are very easy to care for and can be extremely tough plants that require little attention to thrive. A free-draining soil mix is vital….

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Agave montana, Agave parryi var. truncata, Agave parryi 'cream spike'

About Agaves

Agaves are in the Asparagaceae family with over 270 known species native to Mexico and the surrounding region. Agaves are known for their beautiful structural forms and make stunning feature plants in pots, gardens and rockeries. Many species can survive temperatures well below freezing and are incredibly happy growing outside in the U.K, when given the correct amount of drainage. Be careful when handling these stunning plants as they come covered in an armoury of spikes. These are to protect themselves from being eaten in their habitat as they grow in arid locations where water is scarce.

Agave leaves unfold very slowly and incredibly neatly from a central conical shaped crown. Many species leave very pronounced markings and patterns where the previous leaf rested before unravelling. 

Agaves can take many years to flower and are often called century plants because of this, with some varieties taking up to 50 to 60 years before flowering. Some of the larger species of Agave can produce an incredible flowering display of over 12 meters high.

Due to the time they take to flower, it is very rare to find hybrid forms of Agave, but when they do arise, they are often beautiful and highly sought after. Variegated Agaves are visually stunning, with many coming in compact forms, making them the ideal collector’s plant.

Soil Mix and Feeding

Agaves are very easy to care for and can be extremely tough plants that require little attention to thrive. A free-draining soil mix is vital. We use 50 percent soil and 50 percent grit or perlite for drainage, a supplementary feed in the warmer growing season such as a slow-release fertiliser or regular balanced liquid feeds will help these plants grow. 

Agave victoriae-reginae 'white rhino'
Agave victoriae-reginae ‘white rhino’

The ideal time to feed Agaves is during the repotting process. Add a 5 to 6-month slow-release fertiliser during the spring at the recommended amounts or a well-balanced liquid fertiliser every two to three weeks.

Adding these will help to encourage good strong growth throughout the summer.

Planting

Planting your Agave at an angle will keep the plant’s crown from becoming waterlogged and allow the rainwater to drain freely out of the plant. It is especially important when grown outside where you cannot control the watering.

Pot on your Agave when it becomes pot bound, this is an excellent time to remove dead and dying older leaves and roots. It also allows you to pot on any pups that may have appeared. Always wash your hands after handling agaves as the sap can be irritant.

Many Agaves are cold hardy and will happily grow outside year-round given the correct amount of drainage. Choose a spot where they will receive plenty of sunlight. A bright location is essential, especially during cold winter months.

We like to underplant with rocks for two reasons. It will help keep the plant free draining at the base, and it also keeps weeds at bay as Agave can be hard to weed around due to their spines. Its good to use a thick layer of top dress to keep the leaves off the wet soil to avoid rot as the Agave grows.

You can use horticultural fleece to keep the plant dryer if the winters are particularly wet. You could choose to pop a temporary shelter over the Agave for the winter, as this will ensure extra protection against the cold and wet, especially if the Agaves are young and tender.

Positioning 

Positioning Agaves is incredibly important for them to achieve a mature size. Most Agaves prefer full Sun to Part shade. Variegated Agaves prefer part shade as this intensifies the colouring and markings. Position your Agaves where they can’t danger passers-by or pets with their sharp spines.

Watering

Agaves respond well to regular watering once a week during the summer, but if the weather is scorching, sunny and dry, it is always good to water up to 3 times a week. When watering, make sure the free-draining soil mix is thoroughly drenched and well saturated. The best time to water Agaves is early morning when the Sun is less intense. During the winter, Agaves require a lot less water, a slight moistening of the soil is sufficient for the colder months as the plant is dormant. 

Over-wintering Agave

These plants don’t just look tough, they are tough and can deal with all types of extreme weathers, from heatwaves to windstorms and torrential downpours. Some species, such as Agave montana can survive long periods under snow. 

The winters are usually the resting periods for Agave, it is always best to keep the soil on the drier side during these colder months. Sunlight is vital during the winter, as much direct sunlight will ensure a healthy plant come the spring.

You may even choose to snip the spines off the end of the Agave, to make them safer to be around. It also makes it easier to apply the fleece in the winter and prevents puncturing the horticultural fleece. This will not affect the plants in any way but be careful not to cut into the leaf tips.

If Agaves are grown in pots, then they can be moved into a greenhouse, conservatory or indoors on a sunny windowsill for the winter.

Growing tips

  • Use a well-draining soil mix 50% multipurpose compost and 50% grit of perlite.
  • Feed and water regularly during the growing season.
  • Plant at an angle so water can freely run away from the crown.
  • Use a good thick top dress to help the Agave from rotting.
  • Place in a bright sunny location for optimum growth rates.

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Haworthia Care Guide

Haworthia come in a fantastic range of unusual shapes and colours from s...

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Haworthia come in a fantastic range of unusual shapes and colours from spiralling formation to geometric sculptural forms. They are mainly slow-growing plants, most of which enjoy warmer temperatures and don’t require intense light, making them well suited to life indoors. The majority of the Haworthia growing season is in the wintertime. They come in a range of unique colours with many popular hybrids coming out of Asia.

Haworthia are native to South Africa where they can be found growing camouflaged in arid and rocky outcrops, they have adapted to survive in extreme heat with little water required. They are closely related to Gasteria and Aloe and often referred to as rock plant or crystal plants.

They grow in rocky outcrops to disguise themselves from animals, so not to be eaten for their moisture content. Due to this, Haworthia have the most impressively tall flower spikes, this is so they can attract pollinators without exposing their location to thirsty animals. They also have tiny flowers on their very thin flower spikes which are pollinated by flying insects.

Haworthia grow in the sweltering temperatures and will not tolerate frosts or cold weather so are best grown indoors or overwinter in a greenhouse.

Amazing

These plants can be impressive artistically sculptural in growth formation with the most fascinating features, of these being their translucency fleshy parts. Giving these plants the nickname window plants as you can literally look into the centres of the leaves and plants. Haworthia are a talking point in any collection, they are very photogenic for social media platforms with all of their exciting and unusual features.

Colour

One of the most enjoyable parts in growing Haworthia is the impressive range of colours you can achieve in your plants from different heat and light conditions. In low light, they can have a very lush appearance, whereas when grown in hot and intense light levels, they can take on a different array of colouration. There are even hybrids with golden metallic lines in the leaves that look electric.

There are many colourful variegated forms of these unusual plants, but due to the slow growth rates, they can command extremely high prices. The variegation can come in several colours from yellow to the highly collectable and rare pink and orange forms of many of these species.

Some Haworthia have a vast root system in comparison to the plant above. The roots can almost look like a hand made out of parsnips. With these large root systems, Haworthia are typically planted in ceramic pots as the root system can grow and reshape the pot when they run out of growing space.

In habitat, these plants grow very low in the ground with only the tips of the leaves visible, this isn’t necessary when potted as you can admire more of the plant when planted up higher.  

Growing tips

We use a grittier soil mix for all of our Haworthia, of 50 percent soil and 50 percent perlite and grit.

They will benefit from an extra thick layer of top-dress starting at the base of the plant.

You can feed them for faster growth rates, but it will have an influence on the colour with a lusher appearance.

Haworthia require very little water but make sure the soil is dry before its next watering, but water as you would with most succulents, drench the plant but avoid getting the crown of the plant wet.

If your plants look dehydrated, you can water more often or plant your Haworthia deeper into fresh substrate.

Happy plants will look full and plump with a shiny appearance.

Haworthia will enjoy feeding during their growing season.

Haworthia growers often trim the root system to encourage the plant to sprout more roots but be sure to let them heal before watering them. 

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How to Care for Aloe polyphylla

Aloe Polyphylla also commonly known as the Spiral Aloe. The Aloe Polyphylla is a Surreal Succulents favourite, it has fantastic growth patterns and can withstand temperature well below freezing making a perfect outdoor year round UK succulent.

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Aloe polyphylla also commonly known as the Spiral Aloe.

The Aloe polyphylla is a Surreal Succulents favourite, it has fantastic growth patterns and can withstand temperatures well below freezing. Making it a perfect outdoor all-year-round UK succulent.

The Aloe polyphylla is native to the Maluti mountains of Lesotho which is an area rich in minerals and high levels of winter snowfall, it is also the national plant of Lesotho.

The Aloe polyphylla breaks all the usual rules for keeping succulents. They are an incredibly thirsty and hungry plant that benefits from extra feeding and watering during the growing season. They respond by appreciating air to the root system and not drowning in water. This will cause their roots to rot, slowing down growth rates. To achieve a growing medium that will encourage root development, we use standard multipurpose compost at 55% then we add 35% of perlite and a further 10% grit to the mix. We also add a natural feed e.g. chicken muck.

As the Aloe grows, the bottom leaves of the Aloe polyphylla naturally dry out and die back. This process encourages new roots to develop, old leaves can be removed carefully by hand. When planting this succulent, it will benefit from being planted on a hump or mound. Angling the Aloe will encourage the water to run away from the leaves and to the root system.

  • Angle your Aloe to allow excess water to run off of the crown. You can angle the plant to suit your garden.
  • One of the most unusual features of this Aloe is that it can survive and thrive in temperatures well below freezing.
  • This succulent has impressive growth rates when happy.
  • The Aloe polyphylla is a hungry, thirsty plant and best kept outdoors.
  • The perfect UK outdoor succulent, hardy to -15°C (on mature specimens).
  • Plant in full sun on a mound and at an angle.
  • Use a free-draining soil mix and add a natural feed.

For more information, view our product page. The Aloe polyphylla is incredibly popular, so we can’t guarantee it will always be in stock. Sign up for our newsletter to be updated when products come back in stock.

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How to Care for Aeonium Tabuliforme

One of the most beautiful Aeonium species around, always drawing the att...

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One of the most beautiful Aeonium species around, always drawing the attention at shows with it’s fascinating Fibonacci spiral and its compact and almost flat growing form.

The Aeonium tabuliforme is one of the more tender Aeoniums, it grows incredibly well outside but needs protection from frosts or ideally temperatures below 4°c. When planting this Aeonium it is best to slightly angle it so that water can freely run off from the crown (centre of the plant), it can even be planted vertically in walls and rockeries. In nature this plant can be found growing on the side of cliff faces so is well suited for vertical living.

This succulent is a great feature plant and will appreciate some shade but can tolerate full sun when planted at an angle. It also makes a great indoor house plant.

Plant in a good free draining soil mix, we feed our Aeonium tabuliformes in the spring so they can grow and shut down for the winter. Feeding less, leading into the winter months produces a tougher plant that has a higher chance of surviving the winter cold spells.

  • Use a good free draining soil mix.
  • Only feed in the spring.
  • Angle the plant so water can freely drain off from the centre of the plant.
  • The tabuliforme will tolerate shade making it a great house plant.
  • Protect from frost and freezing temperatures.
  • Doesn’t mind being pot bound.
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Hardiness zones

Aloe Succulent in Cold

Overview of out green, amber and red hardiness zones for protecting succulents from low temperatures.

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Aloe Succulent in Cold

In the hardiness zone category we have decided to use a traffic light system to help you choose and understand the requirements for your succulents. This will help you understand where to place your succulents in a suitable location and what time of year to protect them or bring them in for the winter.

 

 

 

Green zone -2°C / 28°F and below

These type of succulents will tolerate below freezing temperatures, they should happily live outdoors here in the UK all year round but will not like being continually soaking wet during winter so ensure good drainage at all times.

Amber zone -2°C / 28°F

These type of succulents will live outdoors all summer but you need to watch them when temperatures approach freezing. These succulents will not like being kept soaking wet during winter or colder months so ensure good drainage at all times. When temperatures approach freezing you would want to protect them with horticultural fleeces or bring them in for these cold spells.

Red zone +4°C / 39°F

These type of succulents will live outdoors all summer but you will need to treat these succulents as tender. When temperatures drop for the colder winter months you would want to ensure they stay above 4 degrees for them to survive.

For more care advice please read the How to care for succulents guide in our advice and inspiration section.

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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.