How to Care for Aeonium Arboreum

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I've grown Aeoniums along the coast of California & now, here in the Arizona desert. These Aeonium arboreum care tips cover you for both climates. They do great in containers!

Time to serve up more succulent love. This go round it’s those fascinating rosette forming aeoniums which I grew lots of in my Santa Barbara garden. I was told they wouldn’t do nearly as well here in Tucson but I brought few cuttings with me anyway. To my surprise, they’re doing fine.

This is all about Aeonium arboreum care, in 2 very different climates.

I was going to do a post and video about growing aeoniums in the desert but then thought: why not include the coastal regions of California (also including San Diego, Los Angeles, the Bay Area & points in between) where I lived for 30 years. Aeonium arboreums are known for being tough and I believe that’s why mine are doing so well here in the desert. Other varieties of aeoniums aren’t as adaptable.

Some sold as Aeonium arboreums are actually hybrids so you may never know which 1 you have. Mine can labeled as Aeonium arboreum and Aeonium arboreum autropurpureum (say that 3 times fast!) when I bought them years ago. You may also be familiar with the variety Zwartkop and its striking purple/black foliage. Regardless, the care is the same.

This post and video are about growing Aeonium arboreums in containers outdoors. I’ll touch briefly on how to grow them as houseplants at the end. You may want to read this if yours spends the warmer months outside.
By the way, one of the common names for this plant is Tree Aeonium. They’re in the Crassulacaefamily along with the vary popularJade Plant.

Step 1: Aeonium Arboreum: Things to Know

Size

These succulents reach 3′ x 3′ so they need some room to spread.

Uses

They’re great in containers, alone as accent plants or with other succulents. I had many planted directly in my garden in Santa Barbara. You see them a lot in Southern California in mixed succulent plantings, even along the beaches.

Growth Rate

Medium to fast.

Aeonium arboreum care:
Tucson: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9A/9B

Santa Barbara:: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10A/10B

Exposure

My aeoniums were growing in the morning &/or afternoon sun in Santa Barbara. In Tucson, they can take full sun in the late fall/winter/early spring months. In the hot months, my aeoniums are in bright shade receiving no direct sun at all. The sun is stronger & more intense here in the Sonoran desert than along the coast of California & they’d burn in a heartbeat.

Watering

In Santa Barbara: I’ve found aeoniums need a bit more water than most succulents. I water them thoroughly & then let them go almost dry before watering again. In the summer months I backed off on the watering (maybe once a month if that) because that’s the time for aeoniums to go dormant or semi-dormant. And, I would water even less if the fog was hanging around.

Most aeoniums are native to the Canary Islands so they much prefer the climate in Santa Barbara & the temperate coastal areas of California rather than the deserts! In Tucson: I water my Aeonium arboreums thoroughly every 7-10 days (less if we’re getting the monsoons) in the summer. Because it’s so hot here, I’ve found they need supplemental watering during these months. In the winter months a thorough watering every 3 weeks seems to be the sweet spot. Mine are in a larger pot & planted in my special blend so adjust for your climate, size pot, soil mix, sun exposure, etc.

Hardiness

Aeoniums are hardy to 25-30F. They can handle an occasional cold snap but not a prolonged one. I never protected any of my succulents in Santa Barbara because the winter temps rarely dipped below 38F. Here in Tucson it’s a different story. When the temps. drop below 30F, I cover mine with a large sheet & that protects it just fine.

Pruning

I find these arboreums grow into a beautiful shape over time & not much pruning is needed. The rosette foliage heads get heavy over time & sometimes a branch will break. That’s when I have to prune in order to make a clean cut. And of course, when I wanted to give away cuttings. Sharing the succulent love!

Step 2:

Propagation

Propagating Aeonium aboreums is easy by stem cuttings & division. I would heal aeomium cuttings off for 6 months & they’d be just fine. You can see me propagating the cuttings I brought from Santa Barbara here & my Aeonium arboreums here.

Warning: the latter is an old post & video but you’ll get the drift!

Soil

I have you covered with a dedicated post about the soil mix I use for aeoniums. And, you can see how much these plants have grown in 7 months.

Repotting/Planting

I cover repotting & planting in the same post as above. The main things I need to warn you about: these arboreums get quite heavy as they grow larger & can easily break when you’re planting them. You’ll see that if you watch the video.

Feeding/Fertilizing

I’ve found that aeoniums aren’t that needy when it comes to fertilizing. Right now I feed all my container plants with a light application of worm compost followed by a light layer of compost over that in early spring. Don’t too it too late because these plants go dormant or semi-dormant in summer.

Easy does it – I top dress a plant this size with 1″ of worm compost & 2″ of compost. In case you’re interested I also use this worm compost/compost blend to feed container plants & houseplants. I can’t recommend a specific fertilizer because I’ve never used 1 for my aeoniums. Mine look just fine so I have no need.

Step 3:

Pests

Mine have never gotten any here in Tucson. In the Spring in Santa Barbara, they’d occasionally get orange aphids on the tender growth. I just hosed them off & that took care of them. I’ve heard they can also get mealybugs, especially when growing indoors. It’s best to take action as soon as you see any pest because multiply like crazy. Pests can travel from plant to plant fast so make you get them under control pronto.

Pets

I’m including this because you may be growing your Aeonium arboreum as a houseplant. I consult the ASPCA website for my info on this subject. Because they’re in the same family as Jade Plants, I’d take caution. I will say that pack rats have gnawed away at many of my plants & leave these aeoniums alone. Many plants are toxic to pets in some way & I want to share my thoughts with you regarding this topic.

Step 4: Growing Aeonium Arboreum As a Houseplant

I’ve grown aeoniums as houseplants. These are the 2 most important things to know: they need high light from a natural source & to dry out between waterings. In the summer, back way off on the watering frequency. Be sure to keep them out of hot windows & away from direct summer sun. And, rotate yours every month or 2 so it gets light on all sides.

Make sure that the soil mix you use drains well & is aerated. I use straight succulent & cactusmix when I’m planting them as houseplants. You want to hose those gorgeous rosettes off once or twice a year. Heat can blow a lot of dust around. The leaves of your plants need to breath & a build up of dust can prevent this. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for spider mites & mealybugs. Your Aeonium arboreums would love to spend the warmer months outdoors. If you’re in a rainy climate, be sure to have them under protection. The same goes for any hot afternoon sun – avoid it.

Step 5: Good to Know:

If the lower leaves start to turn yellow & droop, no worries.

It’s the nature of this plant – the lower leaves die out as it grows. Mine has even more brown leaves in the summer when it’s slightly stressed due to the excessive heat.

Don’t overwater your aeoniums, i.e. too often. If you live on the coast, back way off on the summer watering. Aeoniums are naturally adapted to handle dryness for a few months except in extremely hot climates like mine.

Keep yours out of direct hot sun. They’ll burn baby burn!

Aeoniums do great in pots. These arboreums can stand alone as accent plants & also look great in mixed succulent plantings.

There are many varieties & species of aeoniums. All are gorgeous.

The color of my Aeonium arboreum autropurpereum is much more burgundy/red in the cooler months. That’s in reaction to the colder temps. My Paddle Plant is tinged with much redder at this time of year also.

You might notice aerial roots coming off of the stems of your Aeonium arboreum. This is normal for this plant. They’re either reaching for water in the soil (like mine here in Tucson) or they’re forming to anchor the plant as it gets heavier.

The rosette heads will eventually have “baby rosettes” growing off of them. The heads can get so heavy that the branches snap off. More cuttings to propagate I say!

Learn more on our blog: www.joyusgarden.com

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