Aeoniums originate from around the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and Madeira. They make good conservatory or plant room specimens and can be bedded out in summer for a dramatic effect. Aeoniums are also ideal as potted patio plants. They are easy to care for, they grow quickly and will tolerate long periods without water.
We pot our plants in John Innes No. 3 Potting Compost. Potting Compost No. 1 or No. 2 can be used as well but the plants will not grow so rapidly.
Any type of pot can be used provided that it has drainage holes. For plants which will spend some time on a patio, clay pots are useful to prevent the plants from blowing over.
During the growing season, water the plants approximately once a week or whenever the compost has completely dried out and feed with any pot plant food about once per month.
Aeoniums will tolerate a minimum temperature of zero degrees Celsius; a temperature of -1 or -2 degrees will kill most types. The plants will grow from January until October provided that daytime temperatures reach 15C and do not fall below about 5C. If the temperature can be maintained then the plants can be watered as described above.
Aeoniums flower from a pyramidal spike anytime from December to June. The colour is usually yellow, but white, pink and red flowers occur in some species. The branch bearing the flower spike often dies once the seeds have ripened.
Some species of Aeonium are stemless or have very short stems and do not need pruning. Taller growing species can grow up to 1.5 metres but sometimes lose their lower leaves.
Branching can be encouraged by watering and feeding well. To make a plant more ‘bushy’, cut the main stem at the required height and branching will occur in a few weeks. The removed top can be rooted by leaving it to dry off in a shady warm area for 2 – 3 weeks and then potting it up to form a new plant.
Some types of Aeonium have red, purple, brown or bronze coloured leaves and all show the best colour if exposed to plenty of sunlight, especially if grown outside. In winter many of the varieties have greenish leaves but will soon colour up again in the spring.
Species with leaves variegated white or yellow will show the brightest colours in full sun.