Aeonium Succulents – What are some of the different types and are they all hardy?

Aeonium Succulents – What are some of the different types and are they all hardy?

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.

Dormant Aeonium Aboreum

Aeonium Aboreum during dormant Summer season look like this

Aeonium Aboreum Succulent Problems

In Winter Aeonium Aboreum look like this- during this growing season

Aeonium Aboreum
Size: Large
Shape: Any (can be tall and lanky)
Hardy:  Extremley
Monocarpic: Yes
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 Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent Aeonium Aboreum Succulent Cacti Aeonium Aboreum Succulent Problems

Aeonium Undulatum ‘Stalked Aeonium’
Size: Large
Shape: Any (low growing)
Hardy:  Extremley
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 Undulatum Aeonium Undulatam

Aeonium Goochiae ‘Ballerina’
Size: Small
Shape: Spherical
Hardy:  Yes
Monocarpic:  No
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.

Aeonium Ballerina

Leaves are covered in small hairs and are sticky

Aeonium Ballerina

small clumping habitat

Aeonium Ballerina

Aeonium Goochiae Ballerina

Aeonium Pinwheel
Size: Small
Shape: Spherical
Hardy:  Yes
Monocarpic: No
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 Pinwheel Aeonium Pinwheel

Aeonium Decorum ‘Sunburst’
Size: Small
Shape: Spherical
Hardy:  Yes
Monocarpic: Possibly
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 SunburstAeonium Sunburst – when first purchased it in 2016

Aeonium Sunburst

Aeonium Sunburt-new leaves are more vibrant and older ones

Aeonium Sunburst

2 years growth. The pups are growing in the shade of the main plant

Aeonium Aboreum ‘Schwartzkopf’
Size: Large
Shape: Any
Hardy:  Extremely
Monocarpic: Yes
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)

Aeonium Schwartkopf Aeonium Schwartkopf

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!

Aeonium Undulatam

New Aeonium stems producing flowers on very small stems!?

Fire-wise succulents – surviving a bush fire with a succulent garden!

Fire-wise succulents – surviving a bush fire with a succulent garden!

If you are reading this blog you probably know that succulents are a water-wise plant but did you know that they are also ‘fire-wise’?? They have fire retardant properties, so they may get a little charred but will stay largely intact.

Due to their ability to store water in the their leaves and stems succulents do not really burn – they cook, bake or boil but they do not burst into flames or spread flames. While succulents cannot stop a fire, they can help protect your property from embers and slow the passage of flames.

Nothing can guarantee your home will be safe in a bush fire but you can make the area around it less flammable. If you grow succulents around your home you can create a fire shield around your house.

Succulents and cactus store water in their leaves, stems and roots making them a juicy, fire retardant barrier in the garden. If used on perimeters, as well as being integrated into your garden they become a “living safety shield” as an added protection against fire. Not only are they fire safe, drought tolerant and great to look at they can be planted to create a unique, lush, and picturesque landscape addition.

Which succulents are the most fire retardant?
Naturally the succulents with the best water storing leaves would be the best fire-wise succulents. They have a higher moisture content than hard, thin and needle-like leaves, making them less flammable. So with this in mind the succulents that would be the most fire-retardant are species such as:  Crassula, Aloe, Agave, Cotelydon and Sedums. Echeveria, Graptoveria, Pachyphytum and Graptopetalum plus any other succulents with water storing soft, thick, succulent or fleshy leaves are also flame resistant.

Agave Attenuata Fire Wise Succulent

Agave Attenuata

Succulent Garden not Pots

Cotelyldon

Aloe Succulent

Aloe

Do I need to use large succulents?
As long as the succulents have low flammability and are set well below the house windows and planted near the house any of the above succulents will provide a protective barrier.  Make sure you prune old or dead growth and remove any build up of dead leaves.  You can make a carpet of succulents (as per the photo) below to create a barrier.

Crassula Ovata Fire Wise Succulent

Crassula Ovata – Jade Plant

Aeonium Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent

Aeonium Aboreum

Aeonium Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent

Aeonium Aboreum

Article on succulents saving a house in a bush fire
I read an article on a house in Sante Fe, California that was one of only a few houses that survived a bush fire due to their succulent garden. See link below.

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/08/home/hm-succulent8