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What Is Aeonium?

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  • Written By: Vasanth S.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 11 July 2014
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Aeonium is a plant genus that is part of the Crassulaceae family. It consists of several perennial and a few biennial species that are native to the Canary Islands and parts of central Africa. These species have succulent leaves that are arranged in a circular pattern. Most aeonium species are active in moderate temperatures and are slightly dormant during the summer.

It is fairly easy to grow aeonium species in pots and containers. Regular potting soil provides sufficient water retention and nutrients for growing aeonium plants. They don't require fertilizers, but do require frequent watering, especially in hot weather. These plants shouldn't be placed in direct sunlight, so avoid windowsills and patios with exposure to the sun. Usually, the leaves will curl up and fade in color if exposed to direct sunlight.

Growing aeonium species outdoors presents another set of problems. This genus of plants can't tolerate freezes and generally requires seasonal rainfall, heavy in the winter and scarce in the summer. The soil can't be too acidic or alkaline and should not be pure clay. Heavily water-logged soil may develop fungus that spreads to the plants. In addition, pests such as slugs and grasshoppers may feed on aeonium species.

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Most of the water absorbed by succulents is stored in the stems and leaves of the plant. The roots are generally hair-like and are prone to drying out. Many plants within this genus develop aerial roots which extend from the stem. The leaves are bound to the stem by a fibrous material. This produces a line around the stem when the leaf is pulled off, unlike related succulents, which leave a divot in the stem when the leaf tears away.

Aeonium arboreum is a commonly grown species in the United States. It features bright green succulent leaves arranged in a moderately sized rosette. The plant has several branches which can reach a height of six feet (about 1.8 m), before drooping and eventually breaking away under the weight of the rosettes. These branches are typically replanted in a garden or in a container.

Aeonium canariense is a less common species and is generally found in specialized nurseries. It doesn't feature any branches, and the leaves sprout directly from a small stem, very close to the ground. The rosettes are very large, reaching 2 feet (about 61 cm) in diameter and the leaves are light green, with the edges becoming pink with age.

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