Aeoniums: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties

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These rosette succulents from the Canary Islands are popular garden plants in arid climates, providing color accents (especially red, purple, and yellow) that vary with the passage of the seasons. Aeoniums make excellent container plants in less forgiving climates, though they require a lot of light indoors. Most of the plants in cultivation are hybrids and cultivars, rather than species (which total about 40, depending on how you count).

The most common plants in cultivation tend to branch freely and make excellent beginner propagation subjects. Each rosette will flower after a few years with an elaborate burst of yellow, white, pink, or rarely red flowers, and then die, leaving any other branches to live on. Only one Aeonium (simsii) makes a lateral inflorescence which does not result in the death of the rosette. Aeonium flowers usually make a dramatic statement in the garden and often attract bees.

Identification
It can be difficult to identify most random Aeoniums in cultivation. On top of the considerable variation within a species, any given plant can be incredibly different in size and appearance depending on the season, the exposure, the care, and the container. And most plants in cultivation are not species but hybrids or cultivars. + Show More

Care
Aeoniums benefit from typical succulent care, including strong light, regular water when the soil is going dry, and good drainage. They do not demand a lot of space in pots, but the larger plants do appreciate some extra room, and one Aeonium (nobile) gets large enough to become impractical in most containers. + Show More

Propagation
The plants which branch are usually very easy to start from cuttings taken just below a terminal rosette. + Show More

Seasonal Variation
The Canary Islands have a Mediterranean climate with wet winters and dry summers, and this pattern helps explain the behavior of Aeoniums in cultivation. + Show More

Distribution
Aeoniums are mostly from the Canary Islands, but 6 species occur elsewhere. + Show More

Relatives
Aeonium is related to Sempervivum and various other succulent genera in the Crassulaceae, most closely to Greenovia, Aichryson, and Monanthes, which overlap in distribution. Greenovia has at times been merged with Aeonium.

Suggested Reading
Joel Lode, Succulent Plants of the Canary Islands, 2010
Rudolf Schulz, Aeonium in Habitat and Cultivation, 2007

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