Aeonium arboreum, commonly known as Tree Aeonium or Houseleek Tree, belongs to the Crassulaceae or Stonecrop family. This succulent is native to the Canary Islands, where its natural range includes arid desert regions. Tree Aeonium has waxy foliage that forms rosettes. It grows quickly and produces abundant yellow flowers on racemes from late winter through early spring. This visually striking succulent grows in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors in containers and rock gardens.
Tree Aeonium grows best in full sun during the cooler months and when grown in coastal areas. When grown inland or during the summer, provide this succulent with afternoon or partial shade.
Though Tree Aeoniums tolerate various soil types as long as they're well-drained, it prefers light, porous soil. You may want to amend your planting site with sand and limestone chips. For container gardening, plant Tree Aeonium in a moderately moist medium with excellent drainage.
This drought-tolerant plant hates water around its roots, so be careful to avoid excessive watering. In the wild, this succulent goes dormant in summer, so water sparingly during the hotter months, allowing your plant to dry out between waterings. In the winter, reduce watering to once per month.
The Tree Aeonium thrives in temperatures that range from 40 to 100 °F (5 to 38 °C) in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 to 11. During the winter, Tree Aeonium grows best with nighttime temperatures of 50 °F (10 °C).
Tree Aeonium does not require much fertilizer. Two to three applications of a balanced fertilizer during the growing season feed this succulent.
To propagate your Tree Aeonium, remove its terminal rosette or take leaf cuttings in late winter or early spring, then plant the cuttings or rosettes in well-drained soil. You can also sow seeds in sandy soil in late summer.
Though Tree Aeonium is not particularly susceptible to infestations, pests include aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and thrips. If this succulent is planted in a site with poor drainage, its roots may rot. Although the yellow flowers are attractive, each time they bloom, a rosette dies. You can avoid flowering by cutting the terminal rosette every year in late winter and propagating it by planting the rosette at the plant's base, where it will form roots.
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These succulents reach 3′ x 3′ so they need some room to spread.
They’re great in containers, alone as accent plants or with other succulents. I had many planted directly in my garden in Santa Barbara. You see them a lot in Southern California in mixed succulent plantings, even along the beaches.
Aeonium arboreum care:
Tucson: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9A/9B
Santa Barbara:: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10A/10B
My aeoniums were growing in the morning &/or afternoon sun in Santa Barbara. In Tucson, they can take full sun in the late fall/winter/early spring months. In the hot months, my aeoniums are in bright shade receiving no direct sun at all. The sun is stronger & more intense here in the Sonoran desert than along the coast of California & they’d burn in a heartbeat.
In Santa Barbara: I’ve found aeoniums need a bit more water than most succulents. I water them thoroughly & then let them go almost dry before watering again. In the summer months I backed off on the watering (maybe once a month if that) because that’s the time for aeoniums to go dormant or semi-dormant. And, I would water even less if the fog was hanging around.
Most aeoniums are native to the Canary Islands so they much prefer the climate in Santa Barbara & the temperate coastal areas of California rather than the deserts! In Tucson: I water my Aeonium arboreums thoroughly every 7-10 days (less if we’re getting the monsoons) in the summer. Because it’s so hot here, I’ve found they need supplemental watering during these months. In the winter months a thorough watering every 3 weeks seems to be the sweet spot. Mine are in a larger pot & planted in my special blend so adjust for your climate, size pot, soil mix, sun exposure, etc.
Aeoniums are hardy to 25-30F. They can handle an occasional cold snap but not a prolonged one. I never protected any of my succulents in Santa Barbara because the winter temps rarely dipped below 38F. Here in Tucson it’s a different story. When the temps. drop below 30F, I cover mine with a large sheet & that protects it just fine.
I find these arboreums grow into a beautiful shape over time & not much pruning is needed. The rosette foliage heads get heavy over time & sometimes a branch will break. That’s when I have to prune in order to make a clean cut. And of course, when I wanted to give away cuttings. Sharing the succulent love!
The name Aeonium comes from the Greek word “aionos,” which means “immortal.” And, indeed, even though most Aeonium rosettes die after blooming, they can be easily propagated by cutting off the rosettes before flowers appear, allowing the cut to heal and then inserting in soil where the new plant will quickly root. Sometimes leggy branches will snap off from the weight of the rosette. Simply re-pot the broken stem.
For more tips and tricks for growing succulents, see Gardening 101: Agave and 9 Secrets to Growing Succulents Indoors.
Finally, get more ideas on how to successfully plant, grow, and care for aeonium with our Aeonium: A Field Guide.
Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various houseplants with our Houseplants: A Field Guide.
Interested in other succulents or cacti? Get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various succulents and cacti with our Succulents & Cacti: A Field Guide.
Needing so little soil, Aeoniums are great for growing in containers, where you can get a closer look at their unique features and have better control over their growing conditions. In high humidity or rainy areas, you may not need to water them at all. Choose a container with a drainage hole to avoid standing water and root rot. To help maintain the necessary moisture levels, use a regular potting mix rather than a fast-draining succulent/cactus mix.
If you are growing Aeoniums in containers, re-pot every 2 to 3 years with fresh potting soil.