A Flying Aeonium

November 18, 2008

Aeoniums are very beautiful succulent plants...

Susan from California writes:
Dear Diana

There have been gusty winds here in California and some of my pots have fallen over – my 2 foot high Aeonium Schwarzkopf fell breaking off some stems and the pot broke too.
What’s the best way to pot the stems that broke off and should I repot the original into a larger pot, or the same size? (It’s been in that pot for a while, but now I can see the root ball it’s not as big as I thought and some of the finer roots broke away when it fell).
Also do they need food and what’s the best watering schedule for them?
Hi Susan – sorry to hear about your flying Aeonium!
They are very beautiful succulent plants, but they do take a bit of looking after, so I’ll see if I can help to avert further disasters.
A while back I had similar problems with a beautiful Aloe Barbadensis (the real Aloe Vera) which grew so top heavy that it keeled over no matter how big a pot I put it in.
In some ways these handsome, heavy succulent plants really should be in the ground, but we don’t all have the right growing space or conditions for that, so the best that we can do is pick a good sized clay pot and put some broken brick or stone in the bottom, then fill around the plant with really sandy, gritty soil and put the plant somewhere it will not be attacked by sudden gusts of wind on a fresh day.
Aeoniums can be very spectacular if you like desert plants, agaves, cacti, and such.
There are several types but the best known are Aeonium Haworthia (which grows multiple rosettes of leaves) and Aeonium Schwarzkopf which produces single rosettes of magnificent mahogany black leaves per stem.
They are surprisingly willing to re-grow after damage such has overtaken your plant.
The stems can simply be trimmed and replanted in a new pot (with cactus compost) and if you still have the leaves (you can keep most cuttings or broken stems in water for a while) put four or five around the edge of a small pot full of gritty (cactus) compost and either put the pot in a plastic bag or keep it in a cool light place and quite often new plants will come up where the leaf touches the soil.
As to the main plant, re-pot it in its present pot (if clay), as above and fill with cactus compost.
Trim any damaged stems or leaves and it will re-grow in a month or so.
Before now, I have cut the head, plus an inch or two of stalk, off a plant which had become too stalky, set it in a new pot of compost where it re-grew happily - and watched with surprise as the old stalk grew a perfect new set of rosettes.
Answering your final question, I have never fed them – I don’t think desert plants need plantfood, and as to watering, as long as your aeoniums are in gritty free-draining soil, simply when you feel they need watering.
As always,
Happy horticulture,