The Aeoniums – Beautiful Winter Succulents

The Aeonium is a succulent, subtropical garden plant of the genus Aeonium and family Crassulaceae, native to the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean region of North Africa. If a plant looks like a hens and chickens on top of a thick stalk it is possibly an aeonium. They look very much like the sempervivums of Europe and the echeverias of Mexico and Central America.

Aeonium has light yellow flowers that form long clusters. In most cases the plant dies after flowering when the seed matures. Don’t be too hasty in composting the plant, though, new rosettes sometimes appear lower down on the stems.

aeonium arboreum albovariegatum-garden

Most aeoniums are easy to grow if they get bright light in the winter, filtered light in summer, cool nights and good air circulation. They should be drenched and let dry between waterings, but make sure you have given them excellent drainage in your garden. While they are dormant or cold (they can take temperatures to 45°F) they need less water. When dormant, aeoniums often drop their leaves-if your aeonium has not flowered it is probably just resting.

aeonium canarience velvet

Aeonium canarience velvet

Types of Aeoniums

The fleshy rosettes of these evergreen succulents form living sculptures of bright green, bluish green, or purple. Clusters of yellow, pink, or white flowers bloom in spring or summer. Grow them in rock gardens, or display in patio containers or a sunny spot indoors. They tolerate light frost but require good drainage. Start new plants from cuttings.

aeonium hawortii-potted

Aeonium hawortii

The cultivar “Schwartzkopf” is a very dark selection of Aeonium arboretum with tall arching stems and large heads of deep purple black foliage. It differs from the common Aeonium arboreum “Atropurpureum” which has somewhat shorter stems and smaller heads of dark reddish purple foliage. Sometimes it produces nice crested stems and seems to to change in and out of its crested mode during the years.

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Aeonium canariense (giant velvet rose) has large, floppy, green velvet rosettes.

Aeonium arboreum “Schwartzkopf” is a selected form of the green Aeonium arboreum. The purple variety, Aeonium arboreum Schwartzkopf, needs much stronger light to keep its dark purple color. This plant from the Canary Islands is a popular house plant and often used as a feature plant in summer bedding. It is not frost hardy. New plants are easily started from cuttings of individual rosettes. The plant is monocarpic so a flowering rosette will inevitably die.


Aeoniums can be reproduced from seeds and leaf cuttings. Indoors, they may never set seed. If you plan to make leaf cuttings, do it while the plants are young and vigorous. Do not wait until they are in their final decline. At that time the leaves may not have enough vitality to root.


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