How To Grow And Care For Aeonium Plants

I love aeonium plants. They have beautiful rosettes of leaves and vibrant colors with striking flower stems. But, to get those vibrant colors and flowers, you need to know how to care for your aeonium plants. 

I love my tiny aeoniums that look fabulous in a small pot, but I also adore outdoor aeonium plants that grow into little trees with woody branches and clusters of leaves that look like open roses.

Are aeonium plants easy to care for? Yes, they are. Aeonium plants are resilient and good for beginners, as long as you have a little bit of knowledge about them.

In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know to keep your Aeonium plants healthy and thriving in your home or garden.

Everything you need to know about Aeoniums

Aeoniums are typically characterized by both their bold colors and their striking rosette-shaped foliage. There are approximately 30 varieties of aeonium but many other sub-varieties and hybrids within this family. Aeoniums are commonly known as tree houseleeks.

We’ll cover everything from the most popular varieties of aeonium, how you should care for them, and how you can incorporate these amazing plants into your living spaces, indoors and outdoors.

Aeoniums Plants

Aeoniums are succulents native to Mediterranean regions, including North Africa, Madeira, Morocco, The Canary Islands, and Northern Africa. The Aeonium genus covers around 35 species of subtropical succulents.

Aeonium plants are known for their striking appearance. They typically form rosettes of fleshy, succulent leaves that grow in a variety of colors, ranging from deep green and burgundy to variegated patterns of cream and pink. The rosettes look so like roses that the common name of some popular aeoniums includes the word ‘rose’.

The leaves are often spoon-shaped or elongated spoon-shaped, arranged in a symmetrical rosette formation around a central bud when new leaves form. Some aeonium varieties have smooth and glossy leaves, while others have a velvety or powdery texture. Their leaves are thinner and less plump than some other succulents. They can have tiny teeth along the edges of the leaves.

Aeonium with woody branches

The leaf rosettes grow on woody branches and form several different ‘heads’, which make it look like a large bunch of flowers, bundled up together. Some species have small, compact clusters of rosettes, while others develop larger and more elongated rosettes that can be 12 inches (30 cm) or more.

Do Aeonium Flower?

Aeoniums produce small, star-shaped or daisy-shaped flowers that grow in clusters on the end of long stalks from the center of a rosette.

Flowers are usually yellow and appear in spring or summer, depending on the variety.

Aeonium arboreum zwartkop, black rose aeonium flowering closeup Aeonium arboreum zwartkop, black rose aeonium flowering

Aeoniums are monocarpic, meaning they die after blooming. But most aeonium varieties have branching stems with multiple rosettes.

The rosettes will not all flower at the same time, so while you may lose one branch, you will not lose the whole plant.

You can see the yellow flower stalks in this outdoor ‘hedge’ of aeoniums.

Aeoniums flowering outside

Popular Aeonium Varieties

As mentioned above, there are over 30 species of aeonium with additional sub-varieties and cultivated hybrid (combination of two plants).

Some of the most popular varieties of aeonium include the Aeonium arboreum, which features vivid green leaves and likes to branch. Meanwhile, the Aeonium zwartkop is recognized for its stunning black foliage.

The leaves of Aeonium Sunburst are striped with yellow or cream while Aeonium haworthii has pink-edged leaves.

Here are pictures of some of the most common and popular aeoniums.

Aeonium Arboreum – Irish Rose

Aeonium arboreum close up

Aeonium arboreum Tree houseleek

Aeonium Arboreum Zwartkop – Black Rose

Aeonium arboreum zwartkop Black Rose Aeonium

Aeonium Arboreum Atropurpureum – Purple Rose

Aeonium Arboreum Atropurpureum

Aeonium Arboreum Atropurpureum

Aeonium Gomerense – Pink Tipped Pinwheel

Aeonium Gomerense

Aeonium Tabuliforme – Dinner Plate Aeonium

Aeonium Arboreum Tabuliforme - Dinner Plate Arboreum

Aeonium Canariense – Giant Velvet Rose

Aeonium Canariense - Giant Velvet Rose

Aeonium Sunburst

Aeonium sunburst closeup

Aeonium Haworthii – Pinwheel

Aeonium Haworthia - Pinwheel Aeonium

Caring For Your Aeoniums

As with most succulents, aeoniums are hardy and fairly low-maintenance. However, if you want your aeonium to flourish and thrive, we’ve provided a guide to optimal care.

Sunlight

These plants prefer a spot with plenty of bright, direct or indirect sunlight year-round. If you are growing your aeoniums indoors, a sun-facing window is best. Aeoniums tend to be leggy and lose their beautiful shape if they don’t receive sufficient light.

They are used to a Mediterranean-style climate, and if you live somewhere that experiences particularly harsh sunlight, you’ll need to ensure you provide some form of protection from direct sun to help prevent the leaves of the plant from scorching.

Watering

Aeoniums are drought-tolerant plants and do not need much water.

They are very sensitive to overwatering and you should allow the soil to dry out before watering again to prevent any potential root rot and plant in a container with drainage holes.

Aeoniums are summer dormant plants, with their main growing season being in winter. You should water approximately once a week in winter although you should always check the soil first to see if it is dry before watering.

Reduce watering in the summer to once a month when the plant is dormant.

See our post: How To Water Indoor Succulents – A Complete Guide.

Temperature

Aeoniums prefer a mild and temperate Mediterranean-style climate with sunny days and temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 24 degrees Celsius) with low to moderate rainfall.

They do not thrive in a climate of extremes and don’t like very high temperatures, intense sun or humid rainforest environments. Nor are they cold hardy – frost is not good for aeoniums.

If you live in a cold climate that regularly experiences temperatures below freezing, you should bring any outdoor plants inside for the winter or protect them using frost cloth or coverings if you cannot move them inside.

Having said that, they can flourish in colder climates. The two photos below were taken on a springtime trip to northern Tasmania in Australia, where the temperature can drop near freezing in winter and the winds feel distinctly icy!

Black rose aeonium

Soil

As with most succulent plants, the best soil for aeoniums is one that drains easily. This helps any excess water to escape, preventing overwatering and root rot.

A succulent-specific gritty or sandy potting mix with some organic matter will work best. Just be sure to avoid any heavy or water-retentive soils.

Aeoniums can adapt to harsh soil conditions and, in the wild, can be found growing precipitously in the crevices of rock faces.

Aeonium growing in rock face

Potting And Repotting

When choosing the right pot for your aeoniums, you should always ensure that you select one with plenty of drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

Aeoniums should also be re-potted with fresh soil every 2 to 3 years or once they’ve outgrown their previous pot. Be sure to handle your plant with care, though, as aeoniums are known for having somewhat fragile stems!

Pruning and Maintenance

Remove damaged and dead leaves as you see them, and use selective pruning to help maintain compact growth.

Cutting back your aeonium will also help if it needs some rejuvenation.

Toxicity For Pets

Aeoniums are generally considered non-toxic for cats, dogs and other pets.

Pests And Diseases

All succulent plants, aeoniums included, are known for their resilience. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re not susceptible to common succulent pests such as aphids and mealybugs.

Thankfully there are plenty of specific sprays out there to help you fight off these pests.

In addition, poor drainage and overwatering can see the onset of root rot, a fungal disease that can be fatal. Follow the guidlines above for watering and soil requirements and use a container with drainage holes to minimise the potential of root rot.

Aeonium Propagation

Some aeoniums produce offset or pups, which are mini version of the main plant. These can be separated from the mother plant replanted as separate new plants. This is probably the simplest way to propagate aeoniums.

Alternatively, you can take a stem cutting and, after allowing the cut end to callous over for a couple of days, plant it in suitable soil and wait for your new plant to grow.

Incorporating Aeoniums – Indoors And Outdoors

Plant enthusiasts love and appreciate aeoniums largely due to their ability to grow well both indoors and outdoors.

So, if you’re thinking about where you should incorporate these striking succulents in your space, get to know how you can do so below.

Can You Grow Aeonium Indoors?

You can grow aeonium indoors. When kept indoors, Aeoniums grow well when kept in a sunny spot, such as a windowsill.

You’ll want to try and keep them somewhere with good ventilation and airflow to prevent any fungal disease from excess moisture around the stems and leaves.

If you want to plant your aeonium in an arrangement with other succulents, look at other summer dormant succulents, such as aloe, crassula, graptopetalum and sedums, rather than winter dormant varieties like echeveria and sempervivum.

Outdoors

Aeoniums grow well outdoors in a suitable climate that does not experience frosts. Choose a well-draining soil and pot and provide them with partial shade if you live in an area with harsh sun.

Final Thoughts

Overall, aeonium plants display a unique blend of architectural elegance, vibrant colors, and beautiful rosette leaf formations. They are stunning plants and work well in both outdoor gardens (given the right climate) and indoor spaces.

Plus, they’re easy to care for! What’s not to love?

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