Aeonium Arboreum also known as Tree Aeonium or Tree Houseleek is a succulent plant from the family Crasaulaceae.
Native to the Canary Islands, it is widely distributed all over the world and can be found in many gardens and succulent collections. It is a favourite amongst gardeners due to its hardiness and beauty.
Let's have a closer look at this beautiful succulent. All the advice below is based on growing thousands of these succulents in our nursery Fern Farm Plants.
Aeonium Arboreum grows as a medium sized shrub with the main stem branching out and ending in a rosette type arrangement. Each rosette can measure up to 25 cm, depending where it is grown- plants in shade can measure wider with longer leaves whereas plants grown in full sun will be more compact and smaller. The plant can easily grow to over 1.5m height and approximately 1m in width.
The leaves are a shade of green. New growth at the centre of the rosette is arranged tightly together. Plants in the shade are of a darker green colour, plants in the sun will have almost fluoro green colour. The colour can change with the seasons and growing conditions.
In the summer months, Arboreum is likely to grow flatter heads and lose a few bottom leaves. During droughts Aeonium can shed much of their foliage, leaving compact rosettes at the end of each branch.
In winter, when this succulent grows the most, the leaves will spread out and a round of new offsets will form around the existing rosettes. The more mature the rosette, greater the number of offsets.
Young offsets eventually branch out. This is how the Aeonium Arboreum got its nickname, Tree Aeonium.
The shape of Aeonium Arboreum can be managed into tall or more bushy by selectively clipping off offsets or whole branches.
The flowering of this succulent can be random, depending on the age and location of the plant. Most of the time the Aeonium Arboreum flowers in late winter-early spring.
A cone of small, yellow, multi-petal flowers will grow out of the centre of mature rosettes. The flowers last for approximately a month then the rosette will die. If the dying rosette is cut off, new offsets will form at the wound site. All Aeonium are monocarpic meaning the flowering rosette will die.
Monocarpic succulents send out, what is called, a death bloom. The middle of the rosette will start growing outwards and eventually transform into a bunch of flowers.
If the flowers are pollinated seed pods form but the rosette, the flower is coming out of, will perish. It is unlikely the whole plant will die as new offsets tend to form before the bigger rosettes burst into flower.
Aeonium Arboreum easily propagates from cuttings of offsets. The best time to propagate is in early spring. Aeonium Arboreum is summer dormant and difficult to propagate during summer months.
After cutting an offset or a branch, leave in a shaded, dry spot for about 24 hours and then plant either directly in the garden or in succulent potting mix in a pot. Roots should appear in 3-4 weeks. To learn more about how to propagate cuttings see our article on how to take and plant succulent cuttings.
Aeonium Arboreum is unlikely to grow a whole new plant from a leaf. A few roots may grow out of leaves but they will almost certainly shrivel and die without producing new plants.
We certainly never had any luck with Aeonium leaf propagation and believe it is not possible with any Aeonium species.
Arboreum can, however be propagated from seed. It will take a long time and care before you have a decent size plant and, to be quite honest, it is not really worth it.
Once a plant is well rooted it will start producing many offsets in autumn. In a couple of years a small cutting can grow into a good size 'tree' with lots of offsets that can easily be propagated.
Position & Care
Aeonium Arboreum is a hardy plant that can withstand poor soil and a range of temperatures. It is not frost hardy and is likely to freeze and die if exposed to temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius (32 F).
If grown in a climate where frost and snow is common in winter, this succulent should be grown in pots and brought indoors until the danger of frosts passes.
The best position for Aeonium Arboreum is morning sun, however, it can also be grown in full sun and bright shade. As mentioned above, plants in shade will grow larger, longer, droopy and deep green leaves whereas plants in the sun will be compact and a brighter shade of green.
Aeonium Arboreum is suitable to plant in the garden as well as in pots, though the pot should be fairly big. As this succulent can grow pretty big, regular re-potting is recommended, otherwise Arboreum can become rootbound and start shedding leaves. An upgrade to a larger pot once per year should be sufficient enough.
Pot plants should be kept in afternoon shade during heatwaves over 40 C (104F). Plants in the ground should cope with these temperatures as their root system can stay cool.
For best results, water this succulent when the potting mix/soil has dried up. Aeonium Arbroreum will cope with droughts, but to prevent the soil from becoming hydrophobic (so dry it will repel water), it should be watered regularly.
Aeonium Arboreum is unlikely to rot in too much rain or if watered often and actually quite likes regular watering.
Aeonium Arboreum, especially if grown in pots, is susceptible to mealybugs and aphids.
Mealybugs can either hide in between the leaves, close to the stalk or attack the root system. Aphids often appear when the weather starts warming up in early spring and are more easily spotted as they tend to attack the centre of the rosettes, though, sometimes also hide on the undersides of the leaves, out of sight.
Caterpillars, snails and other leaf munchers are also known to feed on aeonium leaves.
In Australia possums will eat this plant to the ground.
Aeonium Arboreum is said to be deer resistant.
Where Can I Buy It
Aeonium Arboreum should be easy to come by and cheap to buy. These plants are very common and are usually available in most garden centres, nurseries or online succulent shops.
As this succulent is incredibly popular ask around and you may be able to score a free cutting from family or friends.