Gardens and Plants
Aeoniums for Your Garden
These Canary Island succulent treelets are peerless in their ease of care and graphic impact in the garden. The cultivar Zwartkop, meaning “black head” in Dutch, bears deep-purple-red leaves that in full flush start out apple-green. As winter ages into spring, larger plants will develop cones of acid-yellow flowers out of the centers of the crowns for a long-lasting show.
Just a little bit of irrigation keeps them bustling along, expanding the disk of their leaves and developing the charming mini-tree look that works so well in containers and small-scale gardens.
Few plants are easier to care for in mostly frost-free climates of California. In cool-summer zones, water them occasionally in summer to keep them lush. You can leave them almost completely dry if you’re nerdily enchanted (as we are) by their crowns’ cyclical shrinkage down to silver-dollar-size disks. The cliffs of Telegraph Hill are peppered with aeoniums left completely to the whims of rain: From summer to winter they change dramatically.
Beachside, they’re prime, but they’re also at home in brighter woodsy gardens, too. Plant them in sun or shade, in soil that drains well, and watch them expand, grow, and bloom. Like most succulents, they’re easy to root from cuttings and they’ll persist in a container indefinitely. Many of our Succulent Ornaments use aeonium cuttings and are a great way to start your own aeonium plant.
Hard frosts will damage or kill aeoniums, but if enough mass remains on your plant, it can sometimes regrow. If your garden gets a lot of frost, grow them in pots and move them into protected spots or cover with frost cloth on cold nights. Frost cloth can help protect from the hail that can pock-mark the leaves; you’ll be surprised how fast they grow out of the damage. If your tastes tend toward neatness, cut off or groom the spent flowerstalks – they will sometimes branch out after blooming. Slugs and snails can nibble aeoniums but generally pose minor problems. Lightly rooting, especially in the dry season, they sometimes need staking.
Aeoniums are among our very favorite plants, so we try to keep a wide array in stock in many sizes.