This group mostly consists of quick-growing, small to medium-sized succulents that form rosettes of waxy leaves. These succulents may be stem-less or shrub-like. Natives of the Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands, Madeira and parts of Africa, they thrive best in warm, dry climates. Since they grow well in direct sunlight, they are good for window gardens, though some prefer shade. Mature plants range in height from 1½ to 6 feet. The foliage varies among the varieties; some are colored dark purple, bronzy-purple, or green variegated with creamy yellow. From the center of the rosettes arise a stem with clusters of flowers that may be golden yellow, pale yellow, pink, red, or white. After flowering, the rosette, and in some varieties the whole plant, dies. The seed pods that follow are papery when ripe. A. tabuliforme (Saucer Plant, Dinner Plate) forms a flat rosette the shape and size of a dinner plate. It grows up to 2 inches high and 12 inches across. The rosette is sometimes crested in shape. This plant flowers and dies after three years and usually does not produce offsets. Therefore, several plants should be kept to cross-pollinate the yellow flowers and produce seeds. This variety needs protection from hot sun. A. arboreum 'Atropurpureum' (Purple Rose Tree) is a pretty variety that grows up to 3 feet high and 4 feet wide. In the sun, the green leaves turn dark purplish-red. From late winter to spring, yellow flowers are borne. Mature plants form
large bushes. A. arboreum 'Schwartzkopf' (Black Aeonium) is a handsome plant that grows up to 3 feet high and 4 feet wide. This plant is so dark purple it appears black. This hybrid will maintain its beautiful color throughout the winter if placed in a bright location.
Aeoniums need a minimum temperature of 41º F. Most varieties thrive in full sun. They need porous, well-drained soil, with a generous amount of limestone chips and sand. If grown in a greenhouse, they should be repotted in late summer just as new growth begins. In late spring, watering should gradually be reduced.
Cuttings may be inserted in sand in late summer, or seeds may be sown in light, sandy soil.
- A. arboreum (Dinner Plate, Saucer Plant) & var. foliis purpureis, albovariegatum, atropurpureum, Schwartzkopf;
- A. canariense (Velvet Rose, Canary Island Aeonium);
- A. floribunda;
- A. tabuliforme;
- A. Manriqueorum;
- A. haworthii (Pinwheel);
- A. undulatum.