Botanical name: Aeonium spp
Common name: Tree Houseleeks
Aeonium Plants commonly called Tree Houseleeks bear succulent, glossy, spoon-shaped leaves which are typically arranged on a basal stem in a dense spreading rosette.
Tree Houseleeks can be low-growing plants like Aeonium tabuliforme (Flat-topped Aeonium or Saucer Plant) which is about 2 in. high and about 1.5 ft wide or can be large trees like Aeonium arboreum (Tree Aeonium) which can grow to a height of 6-8 ft.
Aeoniums are monocarpic plants which means they flower only once after which they die. However, they leave behind many offsets or offshoots from which they can be reproduced.
The Genus name, 'Aeonium', is from the ancient Greek αἰώνιος / aiōnios, which means ageless, in reference to their ability to live 'forever' through the offsets.
Tree Houseleeks can be propagated from stem cuttings which easily develop roots at the point at which they come into contact with soil.
Infact, when the Aeoniums stems bend or fall over and snap off due to the weight of the rosettes, they produce roots at the point where they touch the soil. They also tend to produce roots along the stems when the plant is pot-bound.
These plants have a small root system as they store water in their succulent leaves. Due to these attributes, Aeoniums are highly susceptible to root-rot if grown in soggy soil.
Aeoniums like a Mediterranean climate, not too hot, not too cold, not too dry. In hot and dry conditions which occur in very hot summers, the plants may go dormant.
In conditions of extreme heat, the Aeoniums leaves curl to prevent excessive moisture loss. Their best growing conditions are in moist shade. The best growth season for Aeoniums is late winter to spring.
Aeonium Plants can be grown as ornamental indoor plants or outdoors in a sunny place like in a rock garden along with other succulent plants in warm climates or as container-grown plants in areas with harsh winters as they are not cold hardy.
Aeoniums are slow growers which may take up to 5 years to flower. Once they flower, they die back, leaving behind offshoots from which they are propagated.
The flowers in Aeonium Plants are small bunches of white, cream or pink flowers which arise from the center of the rosettes from late winter to spring.
Aeonium is a genus of about 35 species of flowering plants which are mainly native to the Mediterranean climate in Canary Islands while some are found in Madeira, Cape Verde, Morocco, in East Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya) and Yemen.
As indicated by Gardeners World Magazine, no toxic effects have been reported on Aeoniums (Tree Houseleeks). They are safe to grow in the home.
Aeoniums are closely related to Sempervivum which form mats of tufted, rounded leaves with pointed tips in rosettes and Echeveria which form a rosette of short, beautiful, tightly packed leaves on short stems and are covered with a white bloom, short hairs or a waxy coating.
If you would like to add Aeoniums to your collection, they are readily available online at Etsy. Purchase Aeoniums online from Etsy.
Aeoniums thrive in bright light with some direct sunlight, average warmth and moderately moist, fertile, sandy loam soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.
Aeoniums require pruning to keep the plant neat and to control the size. Repotting is needed every 2-3 years for lush growth. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Aeoniums grow best in bright light with some direct morning or late evening sunlight of at least 4-6 hours. They can also grow under a grow light where the natural light is inadequate.
Tree Houseleeks can be grown outdoors in a sunny location in warm climates. However, avoid exposing the Aeoniums to too hot direct sunlight as they can get sun scorched. The dark-leaved varieties tolerate full sun better than the green and variegated varieties.
Water Aeoniums thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to maintain the soil moderately moist.
Cut down on watering during the dormant season and maintain the soil barely moist as growth is minimal at this time.
Avoiding wetting the center of the rosette of leaves as it can lead to rotting. Water from the bottom instead.
Use chlorine-free water that is at room temperature for watering to avoid plant shock as it can lead to reduced growth.
Ascertain that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.
If growing these plants outdoors, note that Aeoniums will grow best from late winter to spring. They are dormant in Summer, therefore, minimize watering at this time.
Average warmth between 18-240C during the growing season is the best temperature for Aeoniums. Ensure that there is good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases infestations.
In frost prone climates, bring inside the container-grown Aeoniums growing outside as soon as the temperatures begin to dip, as these plants are not cold hardy.
Feed Aeoniums every 3-4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Stop feeding during the dormancy stage as growth is minimal at this time.
The best potting mix for Tree Houseleeks is sandy loam soil which is rich in organic matter. Cactus and Succulents soil is not good for Aeoniums as they require slightly more moisture than other succulents.
Tree Houseleeks have a small root system so frequent repotting is not necessary. Repot every 2-3 years at the beginning of the growing season when they have become pot-bound.
Use a pot 1 size larger than the current one and ensure that it has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy to avoid rotting.
Use a shallow, heavy pot to prevent the plant from toppling over as they can become top-heavy. Go for a clay pot as it is more porous which allows the soil to dry out faster, therefore, prevents root-rot.
If you do not wish to repot the plant, replenish the soil whenever it becomes compacted to promote a lush growth.
Pruning Tree Houseleeks is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves to keep the plant neat and also reduce pests and disease infestations.
Cut back leggy, overgrown and unruly stems and branches to control growth and reduce the plant to a manageable size. New shoots will sprout at a point below the cut. You can use the stems to propagate new plants.
Aeonium Plants or Tree Houseleeks can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season (spring) from stem cuttings.
With a sharp, clean knife or pair of scissors cut off about 3-4 in. of a young stem with a leaf rosette from a mature Aeonium Plant.
Allow the stem cutting to dry (callus) in a dry, warm, shaded place for 1-5 days before potting to prevent rotting.
After callousing, insert 2-3 in. of the stem cutting in a small pot in moist, well-drained, loam sandy soil and ensure that the pot has adequate drainage.
Place the set up in a warm, brightly lit place away from direct sunlight to avoid scorching the leaves.
Maintain the soil slightly moist by watering it only when it is dry to avoid rotting until the new Aeonium Plant is well established. Thereafter, you can begin Aeonium routine care.
Aeonium Plants (Tree Houseleeks) problems include leaf loss (drop), loss of leaf color, branches die back, pests among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.
One cause of leaf loss in Aeonium Plant is incorrect watering; either underwatering or overwatering. Aeoniums require the soil to maintained moderately moist during the growing season and slightly moist in dormancy stage.
Overwatering coupled with poor drainage will lead to soggy soil which causes root-rot. When the roots begin to rot, the plant cannot take up water to the leaves. The leaves begins to drop leaves as it proceeds to death.
Slip the plant out of its pot, wash off the soil and inspect the roots. Brown-black, mushy roots indicate root-rot. Cut away any stems showing any signs of rot. Cut off brown-black, mushy roots.
Disinfect the remaining roots and the entire plant with a copper-based fungicidal solution. Ensure that the entire plant is well covered with the fungicidal solution.
Disinfect the pot with the fungicidal solution or use a fresh pot and repot the Aeonium Plant in fresh potting soil.
Water the plant with the fungicidal solution and place it in a warm, brightly-lit spot. Do not water the plant again until new growth appears and avoid overwatering and soggy soil thereafter.
Underwatering especially during the growing season results in too little moisture in the soil which means that the plant cannot obtain water to take to the leaves for photosynthesis.
Without photosynthesis, the plant has a shortage of food, therefore, it begins to shed some leaves in a bid to save food and energy required to keep it alive.
The second cause of leaf loss (drop) in Aeonium Plant is age. This is a natural process whereby, as the plant matures, it sheds the older leaves leaving a rosette of leaves at the top of the branches.
Loss of leaf color in Aeonium Plant is due to too little light as they prefer bright light with some direct sunlight of at least 4-6 hours per day.
Too little light will cause the leaves to loss their vibrant colors therefore, move the Aeonium to a brighter spot or instal a grow light where natural light is not sufficient.
After flowering, the Aeonium Plant branch on which the inflorescence was borne begins to die back but will produce numerous offshoots. This is a natural phenomenon in these plants.
Cut away the dying branch to create room for new shoots to grow as well as keep the the plant neat and minimize pest and disease infestations.
Common pests in Aeonium Plants are mealybugs, scale insects, aphids and spider mites. Isolate the affected plant to reduce spread to other houseplants and treat it with appropriate products like Insecticidal Soap to get rid of the pests.
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