Aeoniums are small shrub-like or tree-like plants consisting of long, branched and short, stubby, and unbranched species. The hardy succulents are best known for their conspicuous rosettes, which grow from a single stem.
The leaf rosettes which branch at the ends look like giant flowers. Aeoniums reproduce by branching out and forming offsets from a solitary flower head. Unlike most succulents which thrive during summer, aeoniums do best in winter or spring.
Hot and dry climates activate dormancy in Aeoniums characterized by curled and droopy leaves. For this reason, propagation of Aeoniums is most effective when done while the plant is actively growing, usually in autumn. If you take cuttings in summer while the Aeoniums are dormant, they will not root.
Ways of Propagating Aeonium
Before you get started, you will need:
- Pruning Shears
- Plastic Wrap
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Potting Mix recommended for Cacti and Succulents
- Plastic Tray
There are various methods of propagating Aeonium, which we will discuss in detail below:
Seed Propagation of Aeonium
Seed propagation is only applicable for unbranched species. Aeonium blooms develop slowly and start as a swelling on the leaves. After some time, flower stalks emerge from the apex of the swelling leading to bountiful flowers. Though the tiny daisy-like flowers are breathtaking, most Aeonium plants die shortly after blooming.
After the Aeonium blooms, collect the seeds and leave them in a paper bag to dry. Next, fill a shallow plastic tray with a root blend containing a good succulent soil mix. You can either buy a ready-made blend or come up with your own using two parts coarse sand and one part pumice.
Place your seeds on the mix and scatter them evenly. Cover the seeds with more potting mix and water the tray completely. Move the pot to a bright but shaded area and cover it with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap will help keep the potting mix wet until germination occurs. Once germination begins, get rid of the plastic wrap.
When the seedlings have reached about half an inch in width, transfer each seedling to its nursery pot. The best pot size would be at least two inches. As the plant continues growing, transfer it to the next container size. Maintain the soil level to avoid burying the plant.
Propagation of Aeonium Through Stem Cuttings
First, sterilize the pruning shears by immersing in rubbing alcohol. Next, figure out the size of the stem cutting you would like. For tree-like Aeoniums, cut at least 5 inches. But for smaller shrub-like varieties, you can take at most a half-inch cuttings. The piece of the stem should contain the leaf rosette.
Place the stem cutting in a shaded place for a few days to allow the wound to heal. Depending on how thick the succulent is, you can give the cutting between three to seven days. When you allow the cut to heal, it helps prevent rot and stops the cutting from excessive water consumption.
Once your cuttings have been calloused over, fill a clean container with cacti and succulent mix plus perlite. Blend the mixture well and slightly moisten it. Remember to use a container with draining holes at the base; the pot should be large enough to accommodate the cutting. Plant the cutting in the rooting medium and sink it just enough to hold the cutting uprightly.
Move the container to a bright spot where the cutting can get indirect light. Slightly water your cutting at least once every week. Once your Aeonium develops roots, water it thoroughly and ensure the soil surface is completely dry before watering again.
Propagation of Aeoniums by Division
Propagation by division involves cutting through the root of the Aeonium, usually when the plant has become too large for its pot. If the plant is not too big, use the usual cutting method. First, pull out the Aeonium to take a division from it. To remove the plant, tip the container on one side and smack the base using your hand to release it. Once released, shake the dirt off.
Select a branch that goes right into the root. Start the division at the intersection of the stem and root. Do not cut the entire root, just the part aligned with the stem. Use a sterilized cutting tool to avoid spreading any infection in the plant membranes. You can sterilize your knife or shear by boiling or dipping in alcohol. Allow the cutting tool to dry before using it.
Once you decide on the division point, cut down the crux of the plant, ensuring that the cut is straight. Now you have two: the Mother plant and the propagate. Repot the original plant and stick your Aeonium cutting in a potting soil specifically for succulents.
The succulent blend should be very well-drained. You can also opt to dip the cutting in rooting hormone first, then put it in the soil blend. Rooting hormone is not necessary but can help speed up growth. Monitor your Aeonium regularly and ensure that you provide its environmental requirements for the best results.
Propagating Aeoniums Through Leaves
Propagation of Aeoniums using leaves is a tried and tested method but can take a long time to mature. For greater chances of success, use thick leaves. To get started, take a whole leaf-cutting inclusive of the node.
Twist off the leaves gently using your fingers. Allow the leaf cuttings to dry for a few days. Next, place the leaf in your preferred medium, either water or potting soil blend. Move your container to a sunny spot and wait for the roots to grow.
Beheading Propagation of Aeoniums
Beheading of Aeoniums involves cutting the long or small head off. After cutting the head, please leave it dry in a cool area. You can either put it in soil or water and wait for rooting. If you use soil as a medium, ensure that the stem is covered with some soil.
Ensure you provide adequate and scattered lighting and water the plant once the top inch of the soil is dry. Later on, the plants take root, and the leaves take on a shiny appearance. You can now transfer the plants into their pots.
The Best Propagation Mediums for Aeonium
Aeoniums, like all other succulents, are hardy plants. They can survive without soil and even grow on rocks and peat moss. However, once the plants have rooted, they outgrow their containers and should be transferred to a more suitable medium, preferably a succulent potting mix.
The type of soil you use for your succulents will determine how much water is retained. When selecting a potting mix, go for one that can drain well because Aeoniums require well-draining soil. Choose porous soil so that it can completely dry out.
An ideal succulent soil considers simple root development by taking brisk air and water exchange into account. Succulent mixes are rich in the natural matter and inorganic elements. Inorganic materials include pumice and perlite, which promote soil aeration. Materials like coarse sand and gravel control the potting medium’s water.
You can buy readily available succulent potting mixes which contain peat moss, perlite and compost. We do not recommend regular potting soil because it contains too much organic matter, retaining moisture. Equal parts of a cactus potting mix blended with perlite for enhanced drainage. However, adding perlite or pumice can make the potting soil more porous.
To make your potting mix, you will need:
- Succulent Mix
- Peat Moss
- Coarse Sand
- Ground Fir Bark
If you use the above ingredients, there are three blend options.
- Mix equal parts of potting mix and perlite. Blend until the texture is coarse and falls apart when squeezed. If it forms a lump, please add more perlite.
- Mix potting soil with one perlite and gravel(2:1). To test if the blend is well combined, wet the soil and feel the texture. An excellent mix should feel rough.
- Combine peat moss and ground fir bark equally to create the base potting blend. Mix two parts of the base potting blend with coarse sand.
The soil pH should be slightly acidic with a range of around 5.5 to 7.0. You can add horticultural lime if the soil is too acidic or white vinegar if too alkaline.
Aeoniums can be successfully propagated in water. Some people argue that water propagation is easier than soil propagation. Firstly, take your cuttings and let them dry for some days. The cuttings could be healthy leaves or leggy stem cuttings. Fill translucent jars with water and cover with clear plastic. Prick a hole at the centre of the plastic.
You can use plain tap water, purified drinking water or distilled water. Make sure that your cutting tip is in direct contact with the water. Leave the cuttings in a sunny spot for a few weeks and change the water if it has a murky appearance.
Aeoniums take very long to root in water; you might have to wait for at least six weeks. Even then, the roots will be minimal. You can transfer the rooted cuttings to the soil but dry them first.
Propagation outcome depends on the environment. If you want to multiply your succulents, Aeoniums will not give you a hard time because they are easy plants with unique qualities.