The Aeonium Aboreum succulent was one of my very first succulents. It is the epitome of what I believe a succulent should be! Can be grown in full sun, survives on only rainfall in the garden(or a pot) and can be easily propagated. I have seen Aeonium Aboreum (pronounced – Ay O nee um) growing on the side of the road. However, there are numerous other Aeonium’s. In total there are about 35 different species of Aeoniums. Not surprisingly I have only seen about 5-10 different species in my State . Are all the Aeonium species as hardy and what other Aeonium’s are there?
All Aeoniums are winter growers and therefore look their best during the winter months. So don’t be worried if your Aeonium looks different during summer. This is when they are dormant and therefore do not require a lot of water. To cope with summer temperatures they can change their appearance dramatically. If you are not aware of this you can think that there is something wrong with your plant. Many, but not all, Aeoniums are monocarpic. This means that when they flower the flowering stem will die. If the Aeonium is the type that has many stems then only the stem that flowers will die. However, if the plant does not produce multiple stems then the whole plant will die – sadly. Usually the plant will not flower for about 5 years though.
Pests include aphids and mealy bugs, I have also seen snails make a nice meal out of some of my Aeoniums.
Aeonium Aboreum during dormant Summer season look like this
In Winter Aeonium Aboreum look like this- during this growing season
Shape: Any (can be tall and lanky)
Aeonium Aboreum is the most common of all Aeonium species. The Aboreum can grow to the height of a one story house if left to grow as it pleases and not pruned back. It is easily propagated.
Aeonium Undulatum ‘Stalked Aeonium’
Shape: Any (low growing)
One of the larger species of Aeonium with thick stems that grow about 1 metre (3 feet) from the ground. Other rosettes do not branch off the stem like most Aeoniums. The plant is monocarpic so the flowering stem will die when it flowers which is normally after about 5 years. It is easily propagated.
Aeonium Goochiae ‘Ballerina’
This Aenioum is a smaller species in that it is very low growing. It reaches about 20cm (8inches) tall at maximum height. It is slightly hairy and the leaves are a bit sticky. Some have a red tip point on them. It grows in a compact ball shape.
Leaves are covered in small hairs and are sticky
small clumping habitat
Aeonium Goochiae Ballerina
Aeonium Pinwheel is as hardy as the Aboreum and has the added advantage of growing in an amazing spherical compact shape. It is easily propagated and when pruned back it will replace the part of the sphere that has been taken.
Aeonium Decorum ‘Sunburst’
This is a beautiful Aeonium and one that I am reluctant to neglect as I have rarely seen it for sale (at Bunnings or nurseries etc) in South Australia. It is now nearly 2 years old and has produced only two offsets. However, this may be due to the fact that I have kept it in my greenhouse and it has not had a lot of water during its growing season. The new leaves in the centre are a vibrant and deep colour. However, as the leaves get bigger and older they can lose a bit of their colour intensity. I have no had any problems with pests of any kind and it survives with semi regular watering.
|Aeonium Sunburst – when first purchased it in 2016
Aeonium Sunburt-new leaves are more vibrant and older ones
2 years growth. The pups are growing in the shade of the main plant
Aeonium Aboreum ‘Schwartzkopf’
This Aeonium can be absolutely stunning in the Winter and is one of my favourites. It turns a very dark purple when it is grown in the sun, however, if grown in full shade it will be totally green and look like a normal Aeonium Aboreum. (as above)
These are just a few of the different types, the ones that I have and can comment on. Are they all hardy?, I would say the above are. That is; hardy in a Mediterranean climate. Aboreum is definitely in a league of its own when it comes to hardiness however the other species (except Sunburst) have survived on rainfall only in the garden with hardly any attention or care!
It is believed that the Aeoniums that are monocarpic usually only produce a flower when they are a mature plant – say at least 3-5 years old. However, I found my Aeonium Undulatum (as seen above) had a few new stems start to grow a few months ago and these are already starting to flower!! So I am perplexed as to why they are flowering straight away and will see what happens after they have flowered. Watch this space!
New Aeonium stems producing flowers on very small stems!?
If you love succulents you will always want more. If you love succulents you will know that it is not hard to propagate and grow more of the succulents you have. 90% of succulents will produce offsets/babies/pups at some point in their lifespan. Some succulents will start replicating themselves at a very young age whereas others will not until the parent plant is about to die.
Graptoveria multiplying in my garden
One of the many amazing things you can say about succulents is that they are the plants that keep on giving. Yes of course there are other plant species that produce new shoots and offsets but as a type of plant; succulents produce offsets in abundance. Once they are growing in their ‘happy place’ or perfect location there is no stopping them.
What methods can i use to propagate succulents?
There are a few different ways that succulents multiply. Many will naturally produce offsets which grow below and next to the parent plant. Some can be propagated by gently pulling off a leaf – which will grow into a new plant and others will produce new plants simply by pruning back the plant. Of course you can always propagate from seed but you can do that with any plant and even though it is very satisfying to do so it takes a very long time.
Not long after pruning Aeoniums start producing new offsets
Which succulents produce offsets as apposed to propagating from leaves?
The succulents that are the most prolific at producing offsets are some of the most popular. Echeveria, Aloes, Pachyphytum, Pachyveria, Graptopetalum, Graptoveria and Sempervivum genus’, just to name a few, start producing offsets very early in their lifespan. It is not unusual to buy your first plant from a nursery or store that has more than one offset already growing. However, please note that succulents that produce offsets can still be propagated from leaves!!S
Echeveria Princess Anne
What do I do when my succulent starts producing babies?
You can do absolutely nothing when your succulent starts growing a new plant from a fallen leaf or producing an offset. Nature will run its course and a new plant will grow from the leaf and/or plant. You can carry on in the knowledge that sometime in the future (maybe about 3-4 months) you will have a twin of the succulent you purchased.
The tiny balls are Sempervivum offset starting to grow
About 5 months later!
Do succulents that produce offsets also propagate from leaves?
It is important to note that just because a succulent produces offsets it does not mean that you cannot propagate from leaves as well. Satisfation wise, an offset gives you a new plant alot faster than growing it from leaf propagation. Leaf propagation can take up to 12 weeks just to form a tiny plant on the end of the leaf.
When can you transplant an offset?
You can transplant an offset as soon as it has developed its own tiny roots. I would even say you could transplant it before the roots have formed. However, success rates will be higher if you wait for the roots to form. Depending on whether you are in a hurry or not, the longer you leave the offset to develop where it is the stronger the new plant will be. Another consideration is if your offsets are numerous they may all be squashed into the pot and this can hamper growth. If this is the case it would be more beneficial to remove a few of the offsets to make room for more to grow. (see examples below).
Succulents can look amazing mass planted in your garden. See post : Landscaping with succulents
So do not be afraid to use one of the offsets to plant in your garden and start an area dedicatd to a mass planting of succulents. Most succulents that grow numerous offsets are fairly small but can still look amazing in a mass planting.
Surprisingly, it does not take much for a succulent to get sun burnt! There are a few reasons why and how your succulent could/would get sun burnt and there are a few things you can do if it does.
It was not that hot and my succulent still got sun burnt!
If you move a succulent into a sunny position from its usual shadier spot there is a very high chance that the leaves will get sun burnt. Of course there are variables to consider. Summer sun is a lot stronger than winter sun, so should you move your succulent to a sunnier position in the winter chances are they will enjoy the sun and be fine but should you move your succulent to a sunnier position in late spring or summer the end result could be sun burn. It really depends on the intensity of the sun.
Aeonium Pinwheel – sun burnt leaves.
My brand new succulent got sun burnt as soon as I put it in the sun!
Keep in mind that succulents grown in nurseries are grown under shade cloth. This is how all succulents are propagated and grown. Even a baby succulent offshoot/pup grows in the shade of the parent plant until it is old/strong enough to survive the strong rays of the sun. So if you purchase a new succulent and put the plant in the sun there is 90% chance that the leaves will get sun burnt. Every succulent that I buy I put straight into the sun knowing this will happen, but I know that in the end the succulent will be stronger and used to growing in the sun (assuming it a succulent species that likes sun). It can actually take a few months for the succulent to acclimatise and during this time can look a bit worse for wear but I believe it is worth it.
Above are a few of my succulents that were sun burnt this summer.
If you do not want your succulent to get sun burnt but ultimately would like your succulent to grow in a full sun position you need to start the plant off in a semi-shaded position and gradually allow the plant to receive more sun (time) as it matures.
My succulent suddenly has sun burnt leaves and I did not move it into the sun?!?!
If you are growing your succulent in a half shade/half sun position and one day (during summer) you find the leaves have sun burn this would probably because it was a very hot day (ie 40c/104F) and the intensity of the sun was stronger than the succulent was used to, The heat of the sun on these hot summer days will easily burn your succulent’s leaves.
What can I do about my sun burnt succulent?
Leave the burnt leaves on the plant.
There are a few things that you can do about your sun burnt leaves. Sun burnt leaves do not look at all attractive and the first thing you will want to do is to get rid of them. However, if you are experiencing a heatwave or know there is more hot weather on the way and you are unable to move your succulent to a shadier position (as it may be planted in the ground!) then it is best to leave the sun burnt leaves on the plant. They will protect/shade the lower leaves on the plant below that did not get sun burnt.
Cut the burnt leaves off the plant.
Yes you can carefully snip out the sun burnt leaves to make the succulent look nice again, this will not be detrimental to the plant. Usually the leaves that get sun burnt are the outer leaves so they should be fairly easy to access.
If you leave your sun burnt leaves on the plant they will eventually complete their natural cycle and go brown, dry up and drop off the plant in due course.
Will my sun burnt succulent die?
No it will not! Usually only a few leaves will burn. The new leaves forming in the centre of the succulent actually look amazingly healthy in comparison. Conversely, you would expect the new (inner) leaves to be burnt and the older leaves (to the outer edge of the plant) to survive. This is not the case, the succulent is preparing its new growth for the hotter more intense sun. The older leaves have not been prepared for these conditions and have not been grown to cope with the sun’s intensity – this is why they burn.
What can I do to prevent sun burn?
You can protect your succulents from sun burn by moving them into the shade when it is a hot day out of the intense heat from the sun. So either move your pots into the shade for the duration of the heatwave or if they are planted in the garden cover them with some shade cloth. This will deflect some of the intensity of the sun.
The answer to the question – which locations do succulents thrive in – is : any and all locations! There are so many succulents that there will always be a species that will thrive in a location in your garden.
If you are a succulent novice or a well seasoned succulent gardener there will always be a new succulent that you acquire that you will be uncertain about which location to put it in. Does it cope with full sun, is it a shade lover?
If the succulent you buy comes with an ID tag (that’s if you are very lucky) its possible it ‘might’ give you a ‘vague’ idea of the sort of growing conditions the succulent would thrive in. General suggestions like ‘full sun’ or partial shade’, ‘fertilise in spring’. They are generalised by the nursery for all plants that they grow. For further explanation on some of these see: (How much sun do succulents need? Morning or Afternoon? Full or Part? )
This ID tag contradicts itself – may tolerate dryness but the soil must not dry out! – not helpful!
But how will you know if your succulent is just surviving or if it is thriving?
Signs that your succulent is just surviving.
There are signs that will tell you that your succulent is not doing well. Such as, stretching (etoliation) from not enough sun/light, wilting leaves from over watering, puckered leaves from under watering and burnt leaves from too much sun. It is surviving but not as well as it could. These signs do not mean that it is dying but it could be doing a lot better in a different location.
Stretching succulents: If your succulent is not receiving enough sun/light and is stretching then it needs to be moved straight away into a position that gives it more light. Stretching (also known as etoliation) is not reversible, the only remedy is to prune the plant back so that it can start again in its new sunnier position where it wont stretch and will grow compact and healthy.
This is an example of an etioliated/stretched succulent. Tall and lanky rather than short and compact.
Burnt leaves: If your succulent has burnt leaves it may be because it has been previously grown in a part sun/part shade situation at the nursery. The good news is that having burnt leaves will not kill a succulent, once the burnt leaves become the oldest leaves they will shrivel and die. The new leaves that grow from the centre will be strong and healthy and will have acclimatised to full sun and will not get sun burnt. Succulents will acclimatise to new locations in 2-3 months
Note: The only exception to this rule is if there is an abnormally hot day/week (around 40C/104F) the chances are that even a succulent growing in full sun can still get sun burnt leaves.
These leave are suburnt.
Wilting/Pale leaves: Over watering can cause the leaves to look pale or yellow and they will wilt. If you notice this on a few leaves then do not water the succulent until you see signs of recovery. This could be weeks or even a month! It may already be too late and the plant will die but you may catch it in time. See post: How often should I water succulents? Do succulents need water?
Puckered Leaves: It does not happen very often but sometimes you can underwater your succulent and it will have puckered leaves. Give the plant a drenching of water and leave it to dry out. Do not make the mistake of then giving it too much water.
Puckered leaves can be a sign of an under watered succulent
Signs that your succulent is thriving
It can take some time to know if your succulent is thriving. It is not something you can know within a week of receiving the plant. The signs that it is thriving are:
– not showing any of the above mentioned conditions
– new growth – especially in the succulent’s growing season
– flowers – a succulent will only flower in the right growing conditions
– pups/babies -succulents will only produce offspring if it has the right growing conditions to do so
– getting to its maximum species size
Succulents can thrive and look different!
A succulent will always adapt to its growing conditions. See example below. Both of these succulents are the same genus/species and are producing babies/pups ie thriving. Sempervivums (House Leeks) are grown on roof tops in Europe so would receive full sun at some times of the year and no sun at others and would therefore look different during different seasons.
These Sempervivum are exactly the same species. The Sempervivum on the left are growing in partial shade. The Sempervivum on the right have 8 hours of full sun.
Whether your succulent is grown in the ground or in a pot. If it is not doing well do not be scared to dig it up and move it or put the pot somewhere else. The majority of succulents are very hardy and if it is not doing well in one position there is no harm in moving it to another location.
I have found that planting a succulent in the garden, that is not doing so well in a pot, makes the world of difference. As long as the soil conditions and drainage are correct the roots of the plant will fair better in the ground, as the conditions are not so variable, compared with a pot which can heat up and dry out quicker and constrict the roots.
The difference between a succulent ‘surviving’ and a succulent ‘thriving’ is location, location, location!
Which succulents grow in full shade?
Do Succulents really prefer Sun?
This a question that people ask a lot. A common misconception is that succulents are indestructible. I was under this same impression when I started with succulents. It can certainly seem that way when you see them growing on the side of the road. However, like any plants, succulents have their likes and dislikes. Too much of their dislikes and they will curl up and die.
I hardly watered my succulent! Why did it die?
Common misconception number one is that succulents do not need ‘any’ water. Only misting a succulent with water is not enough and even though some varieties of succulents can survive without water for years not watering a succulent can also kill the plant. Succulents ‘do’ need water like any other plant. Misting a succulent will not give their roots the water they require. A good watering once a week in Summer, ensuring the water drains through the soil would be sufficient. Once per month in Winter.
I watered my succulent every day and it still died!
On the reverse side of the watering coin, over watering is the number one killer of succulents. As soon as I buy a succulent I wait at least a week before I water it. Hardware stores and sometimes nurseries will over water succulents as they have a watering regime for all their plants and include succulents in this regime. It is a natural human instinct that to care for a plant you need to water it. You have to trust the science of succulents- less water is good. Too much water can rot the roots as per the photo below.
This Echeveria had too much rain. The outside leaves are soggy and pale. Pale due to lack of sun, soggy due to too much rain. It did not die though.
This is classic root rot from too much water. The leaves are thin as they are not storing water. If your succulent looks like this it wont survive unless it has produced an offshoot.
Does your succulent get enough light?
Some succulents will survive inside as long as they are near a window that receives strong sunlight/light for part of the day. Some will survive in a partially shady spot in the garden. There are so many different types of succulents with different light requirements. Some succulents will not survive inside and require full sun to grow and thrive. If your succulent is not receiving enough light then it will grow long and lanky (called etioliation) and not look right.
Both of these succulents have stretched (etiolated)
Both of these succulents have stretched (etiolated)
Is your succulent really dying?
You may think your succulent is dying or looking decidedly ill when actually it is just growing to its circumstances. If you identify the problem for the type of succulent you have then you can change the position and/or watering conditions and your succulent should perk up in no time and be the healthy looking plant it was when you first bought/received it. See post: Where can I identify my Succulents? to find out what conditions your succulent prefers.
Why are the leaves on the bottom of my succulent dying?
It is natural for leaves on succulents to turn brown and shrivel up. They will then drop off. This does not mean that your succulent is dying. They are the oldest leaves on the succulent. You can pull them off or cut them off with secateurs. See post: Should I prune my Succulents?
Succulents will usually not die without water alone and will not die without sunlight alone. It is usually a combination of the two.Some succulents will look different in their dormant season. The succulent below – an Aeonium Aboreum has its dormant period during the Summer. It will come to life again in the Winter.
This Aeonium is fine and healthy but looks different as it is dormant in the Summer.
This Graptoveria shrivelled up and looks dead. However, the 4 attached rosettes sprouted new roots into the ground!
This Graptoveria Succulent looked like it would die. It has hail damage. It took a few months but it did fully recover.
My Aeonium has drooped and the leaves are falling off. This is due to extreme temperature, lack of water and dry soil.
Even those of us who love growing succulents have succulents that die. Most of the time we can pin point a reason as to why they die but sometimes plants just die and we do not know why! Do not let this stop you trying again or getting a different succulent to nurture. See post: Succulents 101: A Beginners Guide to Succulents – Part 1 and Succulents 101: A Beginners Guide to Succulents – Part II for some tips if you are a beginner.
I killed this succulent by moving it from a semi shaded position to a full sun position and did not water it for a few weeks!
It is certainly ok to prune your succulent. You can prune your succulent any time you feel they are getting stretched or overgrown. You can also take cuttings to propagate new plants or to encourage new growth. There are a few other reasons why you would prune a succulent.
Should I prune dead or rotting leaves on my succulent?
If your succulent has dead leaves or you buy a succulent with lots of dried/dead leaves around the base of the plant the leaves can be removed. It’s natural for leaves to die on a plant. It’s like hair falling out your head.
Dead leaves around the base of the plant.
Easily removed by pulling the leaves off.
If you pull them gently they should easily come away from the stem or you can cut them off with secateurs. This encourages new growth, deters any bugs or mould and improves the look of the plant.
Agave leaves die but are still firmly attached to the plant.
A pair of secateurs are required for cutting the dead leaves from the plant.
Should I prune a plant that has stretched/etiolated?
If you have a succulent that has stretched due to lack of light, pruning is the best way to rectify this. The succulent will look a bit worse for wear at first but in time new growth will be more compact and the succulent will look healthier.
This is an example of pruning. Some of the long leaves were pruned and the stem produced new growth. I eventually removed all the long leaves.
Should I prune the flowers on my succulent?
Most succulents flower, some are more prolific than others. My Echeveria plants seem to flower all the time. When the flower dies you can prune it. Some flower stems have leaves on them which are great for propagating a new plant as the stem has more hormones from producing the flower. The best time to prune a flowering species of succulent is after it has finished flowering.
These flowers are truly dead. Time to prune.
If you have a large succulent that flowers the best time to prune is after the plant has finished flowering. If, however, you do not have the time or inclination to prune, don’t worry, the flowers will die and drop off by themselves eventually with no adverse reaction to the plant.
I rarely prune this Crassula Ovata Jade Plant.
Should I prune my succulent to make it a nicer shape?
Succulents often need pruning just like any other type of plant when it comes to shape and to control size. The succulent you buy will grow bigger and will not look so cute and compact after a while so pruning is a necessity if you want to keep your plant compact. However, do not panic, succulents are fairly slow growers. So you won’t be out there pruning all the time!
I have been pruning this Crassula and replanting the cutting to make a succulent carpet.
I have pruned this Aeonium and replanted the cuttings at the front of the plant.
What instrument should I use for pruning succulents?
I use normal garden secateurs to prune, or if the leaves are dry enough I pull them off with my fingers. Some leaves are ready to come off and fall off as I touch them. If you have pruned a succulent that has a disease make sure you clean the secateurs thoroughly so that the disease is not transferred from plant to plant.
Where do I prune my succulent?
Do not worry! you cannot hurt a succulent by pruning it. There is no wrong way to prune it. If there is a part that is protruding that looks out of place, prune it off as far back as you like. Pruning is really trial and error. If you have not pruned before give it a go and learn from your mistakes. The photo below is a Graptoveria succulent I have. It was pruned by a passing German Shepherd!! I was a bit annoyed at the time but didn’t throw it out and here we are quite a few months later with a new shoot!