You are currently viewing Species Spotlight ~ Aeonium Rosette Succulents!

Species Spotlight ~ Aeonium Rosette Succulents!

Aeonium (Ay-OH-nee-um) is a genus of about 35 rosette succulents, native to the Canary Islands, Morocco and East Africa. The name comes from the Greek word “aionos” meaning ageless. In my mind, I always think of these beauties as ageless roses. Like echeveria and sempervivum, they produce leaves arranged in concentric circles – around a common center. This gives them the appearance of a rose. Unlike these two, aeonium rosettes are formed on ever-lengthening, curving, woody stems. Aeonium care is a snap, especially in mild climates, though they can be over-wintered indoors. Let’s take a closer look at these flower-like plants.

All About Growing Aeonium

{Please note, some links in this post may be affiliate links to sites that pay me a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase. This commission is at absolutely no cost to you. I only recommend products and companies that I have worked with and truly love! ~Kat}

Aeonium – Tree Houseleeks

Aeonium arboreum, photo credit Forest & Kim Starr CC 3.0

Aeonium are commonly referred to as tree houseleeks. The “houseleek” refers to its resemblance to sempervivum. The tree part is due to the long and branching trunks forms by the woody stems. New growth emerges from the center of the rosette. Older leaves are sloughed off, from the ever-elongating stem. Some varieties form extremely long, tall stems, reaching four feet or more, with rosettes the size of dinner plates. Others have a more compact form, branching nicely, with smaller rosettes. The coloring is typically green, sometimes accented with cream, rose or pink in variegation. Some varieties produce striking rosettes in red so deep that it appears black.

Aeonium rosettes often look so utterly perfect, they do not seem real. If you cannot help touching the plant to be sure, feel free. There are no spikes or spines to be wary of. But do take care when handling the plant, The leaves are easily marked, though the damage does not show up for a day or so.

Aeonium – Rosette Succulents

Aeonium ‘Suncup’ at The Succulent Cafe

The flower-like rosettes of aeonium tinged with pink and yellow make for a beautiful, floral note in your succulent garden. They are long-lasting and lovely, whether you grow them in a container or in the ground. Just as in a bouquet of flowers, the rosette succulents look their best planted with others that contrast and compliment their form and color. Slim, vertical or trialing succulents like crassula, portulacaria or senecio look wonderful with aeonium.

I have a blog post and infographic devoted to recognizing the differences between rosettes succulent varieties.

Aeonium Hardiness

Aeonium arboreum ‘Black Rose’

Aeonium are generally hardy to USDA climate zones 9-11. They can typically withstand a light frost and are actively growing in the winter months when cooler weather and moisture are more prevalent. They will go dormant in the hottest summers. This is not the best choice of succulent for fiercely hot regions. If you have your aeonium in full sun while temps are fierce, and the leaves begin to curl, withhold water. The curling leaves are a sign the plant has shut down many of its normal systems in an effort to conserve water. When the return of more moderate temperatures, you will see the leaves open again. This is the time to resume your regular watering.

Aeonium Care

Aeonium ‘Kiwi’

Even more than most succulents, aeonium thrive on benign neglect. Ideally, they prefer to be protected from extremes of temperature and sun exposure.

Aeonium Sun Exposure

While aeonium tolerate a fair range from full sun to partial shade, bright light typically brings out the best coloring in their leaves. Full sun in the hottest regions will burn an aeonium’s leaves.

Watering Aeonium
Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’

Like all succulents, aeonium store water for the plant’s future use, as an adaptation to growing in very dry climates. As always, proper watering for these succulent plants is crucial. Be sure to plant your aeonium in a fast draining, gritty succulent soil. Then, water only when the soil is dry. Let the plant make full use of the water provided before adding more water to the soil. If you are gardening in a coastal region or one with a lot of dew or fog, you may find your plant seldom needs irrigation.

Color Changing Aeonium

Aeonium ‘Sunburst’

The green rosette above with yellow markings, and those that are predominantly yellow with just a few hints of green, are from the same plant. Aeonium change color throughout the year, or even on a single plant in response to light, temperature and hormone cues. In general, more sun, and more heat, often combined with a bit less water tends to bring out the most dazzling color in your aeonium. These forms of physical stress bring our vivid coloring in your succulents.

Aeonium Flowers

Aeonium arboreum, credit James Steakley CC 3.0

Aeonium flowers are spectacular and last for weeks at a time. Like sempervivum, aeonium are monocarpic succulents, meaning that each branch flowers just once before the blooming rosette dies. Many aeonium take years to fully mature to the point of flowering. And most will be well-branched, with many rosettes to survive the one that blooms. It is just the single rosette that blooms that will then set seeds and die. In the picture above, many more rosettes are not blooming and will continue to thrive on this beautiful plant. Be sure to take cuttings – aeonium propagation ensures you will enjoy this beauty for years to come.

Aeonium Propagation

Aeonium Kiwi for propagation as stem cuttings

Aeonium propagation is best done by stem cuttings. Do you see the spots on the stems in the photo above? Each is the point where a leaf had grown and was then discarded as the plant grew. Each node where a leaf once grew will develop roots if the stem breaks and drops to the earth. This is how the plants propagate themselves in nature. A branch may break under the weight of a large rosette. Where it then touches the ground, it roots and grows a whole new plant.

Aeonium are very difficult to propagate by a single leaf. The easiest method is by stem cuttings. Slip the bottom two inches of the bare stem into dry succulent soil, out of direct sun. The cut stem will callous while in the dry soil. Leave the cuttings dry for 2 weeks. Then, gently lift each cutting. If it comes out of the soil easily, replace it and wait another 2 weeks. If the cutting resists your lifting, it has begun to root! Now, water lightly and allow the soil to dry. You can then slowly acclimate it to more light, and enjoy your new plant!

Aeonium Bruise Easily

Aeonium ‘Sunburst’, photo credit Lynda Wynn

One issue to be aware of when growing the lovely Aeonium — they do bruise easily. Handle the leaves gently when you plant or propagate Aeonium or marks will become apparent within a day or so. If you order a plant online, it will likely arrive looking pretty sorry for itself, possibly sporting dramatic black or brown marks. Even bits of soil, twigs, pumice, etc. carried by the wind will cause bruising, as seen in the photo above*.

These bruises on Aeonium leaves won’t go away, but they do not harm the health of the plant. And in time, the plant will outgrow the foliage that shows these marks. Take care to avoid bruising Aeonium as you can, but don’t let it deter you from growing these beauties.

*Thank you, Lynda Wynn, member of my growing Facebook group, for the use of this photo!

Are Aeonium Toxic to Pets?

Pet Safe Succulent

Aeonium are non-toxic and completely safe to grow around cats, dogs and small children.

This symbol denotes pet-safe succulents. For more information about succulents and pets, just click on the image anywhere on this site.

Aeonium ‘Sunburst’

For a beautiful, colorful rosette succulent that is easy to grow, it is hard to beat aeonium! And if you are new to propagating succulents, this is a terrific place to start. You can find aeonium at most home stores and nurseries. I gave you links to a few of my favorite varieties above. Or take a look at varieties offered by Mountain Crest Gardens. Enjoy growing your succulent rosettes!

You can do this!

P.S. For my FREE course, 7 Steps to Succulent Success, please subscribe! Thanks so much!

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Velma Mylott

    I can’t tell you beautiful your plant are I have a few but I like color and having trouble finding we don’t have them here where can I get the different colors

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Velma,
      Are you looking for more varieties for your own garden? I can certainly try to help you with that! Where are you located? There are likely some online vendors that offer a wide range of varieties and colors. You might also want to look for a local cactus and succulent society. Groups like this often have “plant swaps” that are a great way to get some fun new varieties, and to meet others nearby who share your passion! 🙂
      Please let me know if I can help! Thanks for reading!

  2. Judy

    Great article. When you gut the top off to propagate a new plant, will the old stem put out new rosettes?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Judy,
      Thanks so much – and for the opportunity to clarify this important point.
      Yes, if the root structure of the plant is healthy, it typically will form 2 new stems (occasionally 3!) at the point where you cut off the rosette. This is a great way to encourage a good amount of branching for a fuller, denser plant.

  3. Lloyd

    In addition to growing gorgeous succulents and writing some of the best darn tutorials on the web, you are also highly skilled at slipping those “affiliate links” into your posts in a way which both makes sure the reader *knows* that it’s a link to buy something (I hate clicking on something that I think will give me more information and learn nothing but how much it costs with shipping), but working them in very naturally, there is no abrupt shift from “teaching” to “hey go buy this!” Your affiliate inclusion technique is just stellar, is what I’m trying to say.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Thanks SO much for your comments, Lloyd! 🙂
      I do try to make the affiliate linkings more of a natural assist rather than a commercial break!
      So nice to hear it is working that way.
      Thanks for reading!

  4. cathriona

    hi there, i have taken 2 cacti from my mum’s hosue when she died last year. she had both for years & i have nearly killed one of them & really want to resurrect it. from looking at your website i think it’s an aeonium. unfortunately it didn’t travel well in the car & 2 rosettes got knocked off. i popped them in the soil a few months ago & they are still sad looking . i reckon they are rooted though. i’m don’t know what to do about the main plant. it is mainly stalks as the remaining rosettes have shrivelled. should i cut the stalk back to let it re grow? would appreciate any advice. i feel bad for not continuing her years work. cathriona

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Cathriona,
      From your description, it does sound like an Aeonium, which is great news! They are so easy to revive! If you want to be sure, feel free to snap a photo and send it to me: kat [at] thesucculenteclectic [dot] com
      Continue to care for the rooted base of your plant. I would transplant it to fresh succulent soil, and keep it in bright light, but not direct sun.
      For the rosettes you rooted, try lifting them out of the soil – gently. If they slide right out, they have not rooted. But of they resist you, they have rooted! Yay! Now, it’s time to water. Be sure they are in fast-draining succulent soil. Water, and then let the soil dry well between waterings. Keep them outdoors in bright, indirect light, until they look healthy. Then, slowly, introduce them to more light.
      You can do this!

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