The Aeonium Arboreum Atropurpurem: A Succulent for the Mediterranean Garden
The Aeonium Arboreum 'Atropurpurem'
The succulent plant pictured here is an Aeonium arboreum 'atropurpurem'. The common name is in question because each nursery seems to have a different name. Purple aeonium is one name. There are many types of succulents, and the aeonium is a big group.
My last focus on succulents was in the seventies. I was a single mom then, and they were an enjoyment for the householder who could not afford buying plants. The next huge interest started about ten years ago when our slope needed a do-over.
The internet and published books on the subject of succulents and cactus have made the slope gardening project a very absorbing pursuit. Pinning down the name of a single plant can be exasperating. To do serious shopping for this plant, it is best to go by Aeonium arboreum 'atropurpurem', an easy-care succulent to accent your flowerbeds or grow in pots.
Maintaining a Potted Plant
In the photo above, the plant had been in that pot for three years. To keep a good-looking shape, break off long or weak branches and clean off dry leaf segments. This plant gets twice a week watering in the hot summer. It is a beautiful walkway accent.
The plant gets full sun all day during the winter months when temperatures are between 60 and 80 degrees during the day. Occasional night frost does not cause damage.
Before spring comes, break off long stems and pull out big heavy sections by the roots, and start new with a few 9- to 12-inch stems with branching rosettes.
The Chocolate Is a Summer Color
The dark phase of the plant is pictured above. This is the warm dry summertime result. The plant is stressed, but shrinking and closing up is perfectly natural and does not hurt the plant. In the spring, the same stems will have full leaves and big yellow spikes of flowers. These seasonal changes allow aeonium to survive.
Aeonium Arboreum Succulent Flower
Below is the potted plant in bloom for the first time. It had been in the pot for three years at the time of this photo. Most types of aeonium have these cone-shaped yellow spikes, but none are as showy as the purple aeonium.
After the blooms wither and turn brown, break the spikes off at the first branching underneath.
These are hardy plants and will tolerate breakage. Neglected plantings in landscapes will shed and break, minimizing work for trimming. Two or three plants will produce cuttings for friends and extras to throw away.
Propagating the Aeonium Arboreum
I have several purple aeoniums in the succulent garden. There may be accidental breakage of branches or, most often, I will break branches off to keep a particular plant in a desired shape. Let the branch dry out at the tip as shown in the picture above. A couple of days is all it needs to dry the end and allow new roots to form. The drying will prevent the end from getting mushy or moldy—a condition not good for replanting.
Now the succulent cuttings are ready to put in soil. Use standard planting mix if it is going into a pot. If it is going into the yard, put the branch in the ground three inches deep, cover the hole with the same soil, and pat down so the branch remains standing.
Give it water once a week in the summer. If you live in any Mediterranean climate, once the plant is rooted, it can dry out for several days to one month between watering.
The Mediterranean climate is a zone that receives about 7 to 9+ inches of rain in the winter with almost no rain in the summer.
My Aeonium Arboreum Planting Projects
At one time, Cannas filled the area between the bench and wall in my yard. The less-thirsty purple aeonium is the new plant for this location. Six cuttings and stems no bigger than the ones shown with the dog started the project. Hank is my constant helper when I am working in the yard.
Succulent Planting Project
The succulents have grown full and showy.
Pulling out the plants that get too tall and replacing them with a new cutting should keep the look trim and colorful.
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© 2011 Sherry Venegas