Even people who don’t typically like succulents don’t seem to mind the fabulous aeonium plant. I just walked through my gardens and counted 20 types of aeoniums. There are kiwis, Cyclops, zwartkops, haworthii, velour, arboreum, canariense, lindleyi, undulatum, gomerense and decorum to name a few.
Aeoniums come mainly from the Canary Islands and a few places in central Africa. They are fantastic for xeriscaping however they do require a little more water than most of their fleshy cousins. Aeoniums are not particularly happy in freezing temperatures but seem to manage moderate heat, although I have heard of the entire root system dying which eventually kills the plant if they get too hot. I have personally never had any heat death in my gardens, but I have seen it in hotter places. Most are able to handle temperatures as low as 25 to 30 degrees F. Aeoniums can be grown indoors or outdoors in pots as well as in the ground.
Part of the popular Crassulaceae family there are many succulents that are sometimes confused with aeoniums. Almost all are rosette shaped, as are many echeveria, graptopetalums and dudleyas. You can tell it is an aeonium by the way that their leaves attach to their basal stem. It is almost like there is a thin fiber that attaches them so when you remove the leaves the stem is not typically affected. They range in size from 1 inch in diameter to over a foot in diameter!
Aeoniums are monocarpic, meaning they flower once and die. This is a bittersweet ending and if the plant is not a branching type, which thankfully most are, this is the end of the road. Most of the time there are plenty of pups that have grown along side the flowering stem that will take over when the stem with flowers dies.
The photos above are the final flower from an aeonium cyclops. To the left is the final flower of an aeonium undulatum.
As I went back through my notes I keep about succulents I will someday discuss on this blog I realized that I could go on and on and on just talking about the aeoniums I have in my garden. In the future I hope to be able to have entire posts dedicated to each cultivar but to keep you interested I will just focus on the ones that fascinate me the most.
There are probably hundreds of variations/hybrids of aeoniums that haven’t been named yet, which only adds to confusion when you are trying to identify yours. The most popular is the aeonium arboreum. This is the classic green aeonium with mid-sized rosettes that have longer, thin flimsy leaves. They are known to be able to grow over 6 feet in height; however the tallest we have had in our gardens at full bloom was about four feet. This plant is in the parentage of many of the newer cultivars making it sometimes quite difficult to know who is what.
Arboreum atropurpureum – this green aeonium arboreum has purple ends on its leaves. They can almost completely fade into green if they are in the shade and turn into a gorgeous maroon purple in full sun. We have them from all green to all purple in our yard.
Another favorite aeonium is the arboreum ‘Zwartkop’. This and some hybrids it has mothered and fathered are probably the most ornamental of all the succulents. Their leaves are a reddish black that looks almost all black in full sun. Here is where it starts to get crazy!
So you may have several large aeonium that look almost identical, yet they are different in a few ways. The aeonium Voodoo is a perfect example. This stunner has the same parentage as the Cyclops except the roles of the parents are reversed. The voodoo has a Zwartkop mother and an aeonium undulatum as the father, tends to be a solitary plant and has larger rosettes that are the dark red to purple with a slight green eye while the Cyclops, otherwise known as the giant red aeonium, will not get as large and has a much bigger, green center than its friend. I honestly have trouble telling the two apart.
Overwhelming, even for a plant lady! Have a fabulous weekend!