Torrey Pines Landscape Company

Torrey Pines Landscape Company
As featured in Ranch & Coast Magazine ( design by )

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aeoniums (pronounced A-oh-knee-ums) are a genus of about 35 species, native to the Canary Islands, North Africa and other parts of the Mediterranean. The name comes from the ancient Greek word 'aionos' meaning immortal. This genus is part of the Crassula family. (A quick lesson in classification from the broadest to the most specific goes as follows: Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus & Species.) Most of the species of Aeoniums form rosettes on basal stems and bloom in the spring or summer. The centers of the rosettes are the new growth and as they age, the oldest (outer) leaves wither and fall off. The stem heights varies with species along with the structural density. They are dormant in the summer and grow in the winter. One of the great features of these succulents is how easy they are to propagate: simply snap off a rosette along with an inch or so of stem and plant it. There's an expected period of droopiness which passes when the new cutting develops roots. This succulent likes a bit more water and shade than others. The general rule of thumb is that the darker the leaves of the species the greater the sun tolerance.

Aeonium arboreum varieties grow to about a 2-3' in height. The key to highlighting these garden gems is to keep contrast in mind. We use the Aeonium a. 'Zwartkop' in full sun with a backdrop of contrasting brightness. The shiny deep magenta leaves appear almost black (schwarzer kopf literally means black head in German).
Aeonium 'Cylops' has a larger rosette size, reddish-bronze outer leaves with pale green new growth at the centers. The floral stalk which is actually an elongated rosette, produces immense conical clusters of yellow flowers.
Aeonium "Sunburst' is another stunning variety with a large rosette size. The leaves are boldly variegated white, lemon and green with pink leaf margins.
Aeonium 'Kiwi' have smaller rosettes on shorter stems providing a bank of low growing beauty. I was so inspired by the yellow and green leaves rimmed with brilliant red that I featured a photo I had shot in Balboa Park's desert garden in an ad we ran in the Ranch and Coast magazine.
There are some species that break away from the traditional pin wheel rosette shape like the Aeonium tabuliforme which grow nearly flat hence their common name of 'Lily Pad Aeonium". Because they grow so closely to the ground, they are vulnerable to absorbing too much moisture and rotting. Their dramatic 15" wide floating heads are dramatic and well worth the added effort to provide them with well-drained soil and circulation.

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