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.
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.
Aeoniums can grow all year round if the conditions suit them, but their main growing season is in the Spring and Autumn.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
We have a wide range of Aeoniums available on the website.