How to make an Aeonium arboreum branch (Part Two)

A year ago I experimented with nipping out the growing point of my Aeonium ‘Zwartkop‘ to make it branch. It worked and this is a little update on progress. Here’s the plant 13 months on:

The whorls of leaves on my plant have always been quite small, so that’s not an effect of the branching. I may be keeping it too dry as the leaves shrivel up and fall off quickly, any tips on that appreciated. As you can see it has formed three nice little branches – one of which naturally died back in summer and has again split in two (on the right, see below).

You’ll also have noticed that the plant has adopted a jaunty angle. It just kinda flopped gradually because it’s top heavy. Originally I was staking it upright but I hated the look and I like jaunty-angled things so I let it flop over. This had an interesting effect on the plant you probably already noticed, lots of shoots along the more horizontal part of the stem.

This was unexpected though perhaps shouldn’t have been because for most plants, if you force their leading growth over, energy will be directed into lateral shoots that themselves attempt to become new leaders. It’s a common trick used on roses and espalier fruit trees.  Something worth trying on other plants evidently.

One day when I was watering my houseplants, I knocked a couple of those shoots off. They snap off the Aeonium extremely easily so be careful. Thinking ‘why not’ I popped them into the compost of another houseplant and left them.

To my delight, within a couple of weeks they had rooted and are themselves growing as new plants. I’ll repot them in spring.

Tempted to snap off and grow on a few more, I’m currently holding out because I really want the main plant to be a big bushy Aeonium. This year I’m going to try keeping it better watered and increase the fertilising levels slightly.

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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11 thoughts on “How to make an Aeonium arboreum branch (Part Two)

  1. Hi Jack,

    Love aeoniums – by far my favorite plant. Would love an update on this post if you’re able to (apologies if you already have and I’ve missed it!!!!).

    Thanks so much. And thanks for sharing all your wonderful advice and learnings, it’s so appreciated.

    Best
    Dinah

    1. Hi Dinah,

      Thanks for the prompt, I’d forgotten I’d written it as a series – which rather unhelpfully stopped at part 2! lol I’ll run an update later this spring. The plant is doing very well and is part of my ‘how hardy can aeoniums be’ experiment where I left it outside over winter. It’s fine but has most of its leaves nibbled off by baby snails, which will rectify itself in the coming weeks as it grows, it’s already growing quite quickly.

      Stay tuned and I’ll post an update in the coming weeks 😀

      Jack

  2. I have a single rosette that I got a couple weeks ago. Its got a lot of leg to work with tho. Do do I make a slit cut on the main branch or more like a “melon ball” kind of carve out?

    Did you do anything for the little rosettes to start themselves? Or did they just start growing on their own without any modifications?

    1. I just did a tiny melon ball of the growing point and it branched away itself from there. It can be quicker and easier just to chop the top off though 🙂

  3. Read your tips on aoniums I have about 40 of these plants all various sizes and iv had them 5 years they are my favourite.. They go in the greenhouse and conservatory every winter and I cover them in fleese in there also when it gets real cold . I only water them a little from Nov to march. I started with just 2 and they are like my babies

    1. How exciting! I love them too, last year I left mine outside here and they seemed ok, though have been slow to get growing this year. I suspect their roots suffered. That said I am going to try again this year to see if they fair better as they settle in more 🙂

  4. Hi jack- according to Sunset (They publish, among other things, the Western Garden Book, and fairly reliable source for us gardeners) aeoniums are actually cool season growers. They put out a periodical called Easy Care Succulents that has been an invaluable resource for me. To quote: “ Cool-season growers, they go dormant in summer, when they may lose leaves, then perk up once cooler, wetter weather returns in fall. Showy flowers occur randomly on mature (2- to 3-year-old) plants…to encourage rebranching, clip off spent flower heads, leaving 2 to 3 inches of stem.”

    Hope this helps

    1. Hi Leah,
      Yes that is correct, they are cool-season growers, even here in the UK they produce most growth in spring and autumn, although they do still grow through the summer here and are unlikely to lose their leaves unless under extreme drought. When brought in over winter, I guess our central heating has the same effect as their natural environment summers, causing them to go dormant and lose leaves indoors.
      It’s quite interesting really. These days I just leave mine out and find they tolerate quite a lot of frost too! 🙂
      Jack

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