The Aeonium arboreum is a species within the genus of Aeonium, with a number of varieties, that makes a big, bold statement. This whimsical, branching succulent grows tall with large, green plate sized rosettes at the end of each stem. The rosettes are made up of petal shaped leaves and feature a handful of colors depending on the variety!
This guide will provide you with all of the details you need in order to care for your Aeonium arboreum!
Table of contents
- Mature Size: 4 feet tall with 8 inch rosettes
- Sunlight: Full sun
- Water: Drench and dry waterings; a bit more water requirements that most succulents
- Soil: Well-draining, gritty soil
- Temperature: Grows best when temperatures are in the 50°F’s
- Hardiness Zone: Zone 10
- Propagation: Stem Cuttings
- Flowers: Yellow
Like most other Aeoniums, Aeonium arboreum originates from the Canary Islands. This is a small, Spanish owned archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean off the tip of northwest Africa. These islands are made up of rocky, volcanic soil. The climate is mainly a sub-tropical desert so it is best to grow your Aeonium arboreum with its natural environment in mind!
Aeonium arboreum is a whimsical tall branching bushy succulent. Stems branch out near the ground and can reach up to four feet tall. Each is topped with one single plate sized rosette.
This plant looks even more like it is from straight out of a Dr. Seuss book when it flowers. Each rosette will eventually flower. A long shooting stalk grows from the rosette and produces numerous yellow blooms that form a triangular tree shape.
These succulents are monocarpic, meaning once they flower, the rosette will die. However, don’t let this deter you from growing this beautiful plant! It can take years for each rosette to bloom. At this point, numerous other offsets will also have formed, so you will still have a handful of rosettes that will continue to live. So instead of feeling a sense of dread when you notice a flowering stalk, enjoy this spectacular phenomenon!
- Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’: rosettes have a light, lime green center that fades into a deep burgundy red towards the outer portions of the leaves. This burgundy deepens to a near black when exposed to ample sunlight.
- Aeonium arboreum var. atropurpureum: similar to ‘Zwartkop’ in that it has a green center, however this variety will have leaves that fade to more of a purple/red tone than deep black/burgundy.
- Aeonium arboreum var. luteovariegatum: a two-toned variety with green and white leaves that develop a red border when in direct sunlight. The leaves of this variety can be wavy.
- Aeonium arboreum var. holochrysum: this particular variety turns a reddish-brown with copper tones when exposed to bright, direct sunlight
- Aeonium arboreum ‘Silk Pinwheel’: with deep red wine leaves, this variety has a dusty coating that lends to its silky name
Providing proper sun exposure is one of the most important aspects of Aeonium arboreum care. This succulent loves the sun!
It is happiest in the brightest part of your yard or garden. If kept as an indoor plant, make sure that this succulent is in your sunniest window that receives at least six hours of sunshine per day.
Even though this Aeonium thrives in direct sunlight, the hottest of summer days can cause the leaves to burn. If your plant is in a pot outside and you expect a heat wave that will last a couple of days, move the pot to a shadier portion of your yard to avoid damage.
If you live in a climate that has long stretches of sweltering days and want to plant an Aeonium arboreum in the ground, it is best to do so in an area of the garden that gets direct morning sunlight and partial shade in the afternoon.
To best care for your Aeonium arboreum, you need to make sure you are providing it with a watering cycle similar to that of its natural habitat on the Canary Islands. Aeonium arboreum prefers to be watered a bit more than the average succulent.
When watering, drench the soil completely to allow for complete saturation. Before watering again, check the top two inches of soil. If this portion of the top soil is dry, it’s ok to water again.
Unlike many other succulents, Aeonium arboreum is dormant during the summer. This means that its active growing season is in the winter. During the winter and into early spring, the rosettes will be full and plump.
As the seasons change, so should your watering. Water more frequently in the winter than in the summer because this succulent will be actively growing. However, regardless of the season, continue to check the soil before watering to avoid overwatering.
Plant your Aeonium arboreum in rocky, grainy soil as this mimics the terrain in which this succulent grows in nature. This allows for adequate drainage to avoid root rot.
You can buy cactus/succulent soil from the store. To add extra draining capabilities, add 1 part perlite to 1 part cactus mixture. If you want to make your own soil, use the following combination:
- 1 part organic
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part coarse grain sand
When deciding if you can plant an Aeonium arboreum outside, make sure you take average temperatures and highs and lows into consideration. This succulent does best in temperatures from the mid 50°F’s to high 80°F’s.
During the winter months, you will see the best growth when nighttime temperatures hover in the 50°F’s.
Aeonium arboreum is hardy to zone 10 so does not do well with prolonged exposure to frost. Hardiness zone 10 indicates that a plant can withstand temperatures as low as 30°F. However, given that this succulent grows best when the lowest nighttime temperatures are in the 50°F’s, I don’t suggest that this succulent be planted in the ground in areas that have bitterly cold winters.
If you want to enjoy your Aeonium arboreum outside but have frosty, cold winters, plant in un-glazed ceramic pots that can be brought in as the temperatures take a dive.
You don’t need to fertilize your Aeonium arboreum if it is planted in the ground. In fact, too much fertilization can cause this succulent to stretch out too much. It can also lead to discoloration of the leaves. The soil in the ground provides enough nutrients to keep your Aeonium healthy. Adding a new layer of mulch every spring is a way to provide additional nutrients.
I do, however, suggest fertilizing your Aeonium arboreum if it is planted in a pot. Because there is only a limited supply of nutrients that will ultimately be depleted in potted soil, fertilization is helpful. It is important to time this correctly with the growing season.
If your potted Aeonium arboreum is outdoors, it will follow the natural growing cycle. Growth picks up as days and nights become a bit cooler, so fertilize once at the beginning of fall and again halfway through winter in mild climates. Use a balanced fertilizer and dilute it to half strength.
If you keep your Aeonium arboreum inside year round, fertilize only when you see new growth proliferating. Because the succulent will lack cues from nature to follow its normal dormant and growth seasons, keep a close eye on when your plant is actively growing to know when to fertilize.
Aeonium arboreums can be propagated easily via stem cuttings. You can replant the stem cutting, topped with a rosette and expect the bottom portion of the original stem to grow new pups.
Using a sharp sterile knife or plant shears, cut the stem one inch below the base of the rosette. Cut at an angle to create a sharp point instead of a blunt end. Allow the cutting to dry out, or callous over, at the bottom before replanting.
Place the pot in a window that gets morning sunlight only. Moderately water every couple of days for the first two weeks. This is the period in which roots are forming.
Once the stem cutting has fully rooted and is firmly set in the soil, slowly introduce the succulent to more light. The more mature the cutting, the more it can handle bright, direct sunlight and less water. At this point, it is best to water the cutting as you would an adult Aeonium arboreum, drenching with plenty of water then allowing the top two inches of soil to dry before watering again.
The two most common Aeonium arboreum pests are spider mites and mealy bugs. If untreated, these sneaky pests can kill your succulent so early identification is key! I like to inspect all of my plants weekly for signs of infestation.
Mealy bugs are often mistaken for mold because of the fuzzy white coating they create over their bodies for protection. Small, contained mealy bugs can be treated using rubbing alcohol or neem oil. Follow these steps:
- Soak cotton balls either with neem oil or a half-strength rubbing alcohol mixture with water
- Coat the affected areas using the saturated cotton balls while removing the bugs
- Do this daily for five to seven days to ensure complete removal
If an infestation has gone unnoticed and has spread, the best option is to cut and completely remove this area to avoid spread to the healthy parts of the plant.
Spider mites are harder to identify because they are so small. The first sign of a spider mite infestation is the appearance of yellow or brown spots on an Aeonium arboreum’s leaves. As these pests begin to take over more areas of your succulent, you will notice fine webs trailing between the leaves and stems.
To halt a spider mite infestation, remove all of the webs. Make a half-strength rubbing alcohol solution with water in a spray bottle. Spray the entire area with this solution. After a couple of hours, spray the plant a second time with water only. Wipe off the leaves and stems with cotton balls.
Always separate plants that are infested from those that are not to avoid spread!
Tips and Tricks
All plants have weird characteristics that may seem abnormal but are actually completely normal parts of their life cycle. These tips and tricks will give you a little extra information on how to best care for your Aeonium arboreum!
- Don’t worry if you see the bottom most leaves begin to shrivel up! As an Aeonium arboreum matures, it sheds its oldest, bottom leaves. When the dried up leaves are barely attached to the stem, I pull them off so they don’t drop and become an inviting treat for insects.
- Prune leggy or drooping stems to keep this succulent looking healthy. Use sharp pruning scissors. You can utilize these cuttings to make new plants!
- Eek, it’s summer, you planted your Aeonium arboreum in the ground and it is beginning to close up and dry out! Your plant is not dying! It is just going through it’s natural dormancy to protect itself from the summer heat.
As summer gives way to the cooler days and nights of fall, increase the number of times you water your plant. Sometimes fall brings rainier weather, so just sit back and let nature do the job for you! Your plant will begin to open up again as it becomes rehydrated.
- When propagating Aeonium arboreum stem cuttings, you actually get two viable pieces of plant! The first is the cutting with the rosette that can be planted in new soil as detailed above. The second is the bottom portion of the original stem, which, if cut at the correct place, will grow new shoots. These shoots will mature and grow rosettes of their own.
The best place to behead an Aeonium arboreum is approximately ½ to 1 inch below the base of the rosette. This gives both the rosette and the original stem the best chances of survival and renewal.
- Aeoniums are fast growers so it is important to repot this succulent every two years to avoid it from becoming root bound.
With all of this information in your succulent toolbox, you will have no problem taking phenomenal care of your Aeonium arboreum. Growing this succulent is a fabulous way to add color, dimension and intrigue to your garden.