Great Design Plant: Aeonium

Aeonium is a genus whose species are precious since a number of the very decorative succulents, with foliage that ranges from vivid chartreuse to nearly black, and that is sound colored, banded or striped. The 35 species have distinct sizes and colours, with hybridization expanding types into the thousands. Aeonium are frost tender, preferring the gentle Mediterranean climate of their native Canary Islands, but you’ll find Aeonium to become tolerant of dirt and moisture than desert natives.

Debora carl landscape layout

Botanical name: Aeonium spp
Common names: Aeonium, houseleek tree
USDA zones: 9 and upwards; hardy to 25 degrees Fahrenheit (find your zone)
Water necessity: Low, but prefers more watering than many succulents
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade (full sun in cooler climates)
Mature dimension: Varies with species
Benefits and tolerances: Soil tolerant; more tolerant of moisture than other succulents
Seasonal attention: Year-round; Aeonium are monocarpic, meaning they blossom once, set seed and then die
When to plant: It’s best to plant cuttings in fall; allow the stem wind to become callous

Shown: A. ‘Sunburst’

Billy Goodnick Garden Design


Distinguishing attributes. Succulents are very decorative, and Aeonium are particularly so. Lush, fleshy leaves are all held at the tight rosette type, with edges frequently rounded out. While Aeonium once were included from the Sempervivum genus, frost sensitivity and subtle differences led to a division.

Revealed: A. ‘Sunburst’


Here bright green Aeonium canariensis is massed in line with New Zealand flax.

Many species, like Aeonium canariensis, create offsets profusely while maintaining low to the ground, like a mat. As for sun,”I’ve noticed that the A. canariensis will burn if it becomes prolonged sun exposure,” says landscape designer Carl Balton. “They remain greener in bright to low light and may even tolerate a couple of hours of shade.”

Carson Douglas Landscape Architecture

Shown: A. ‘Alice Keck Park’

Root Layout & Landscape

Others, like Aeonium arboreum‘Zwartkop’ (or’Schwartzkopf’) grow on stalks to 3 or 4 ft tall. ‘Zwartkop’ is prized because of its near-black foliage. Sunlight deepens its colour; landscape designer Steve Atkins notes that dark purple foliage may fade to green .

Plants may get leggy with age. To tidy up, cut on the primary rosette off, permit the end to become calloused and replant. It will reroot, and the stem will sprout new growth as well.

Randy Thueme Design Inc. – Landscape Architecture

Aeonium are monocarpic, making one flower stalk before dying. Many Aeonium in farming are branching forms, meaning just one rosette will fade.

Revealed: A. canariense

Debora carl landscape layout

The best way to utilize it. Here we see how decorative grasses and the strappy foliage of New Zealand flax produce an elegant and unusual textural contrast.

Aeonium rosettes and colours pair nicely with the types and colours of different succulents.

Urban Oasis

Aeonium are very frost tender. If your climate experiences temperatures below freezing, then plant in containers that may be brought inside .

“In winter I bring them inside in the Northwest, since they are a fair-weather plant and even our medium winters can easily decimate them” Atkins says.

Debora carl landscape layout

Planting notes. Aeonium flourish in regions with wet winters and dry summers, but might survive elsewhere. Shelter them from sunlight in warm climates. Allow lots of airflow and ventilation where there’s more humidity. They are winter growers and may enter dormancy in summer, particularly in exceptionally warm climates.

Aeonium are more tolerant of moisture than other succulents, actually preferring the dirt to remain a little moist. Avoid the soil from drying out entirely but take care to not overwater. Aeonium do well in most soils other than clay.

Revealed: A. ‘Zwartkop’ and A.‘Dinner Plate’

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