How to make an Aeonium arboreum branch (part one)

Last year I ordered a small Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ from an independent nursery off of eBay. In the summer it has a lovely single black rosette but that was it. I’d really like my Aeonium to branch.

To do this, the correct advice is that you should lop the top clean off and branches will sprout from the nodes. However, like most people I suspect, that felt very drastic and I’m less keen on plants with visible stumps above branch joints. So, I experimented.

First I tried making a cut directly above a node on the stem using a sharp knife – succulents cut like butter and I almost chopped it in half anyway. Cutting above a node on some plants can encourage the node beneath it into growth (I believe this practice is done on apple trees sometimes?) Alas, not this time on the Aeonium, nothing happened.  I’ll probably try again one day.

Last weekend though I was feeling fidgety and decided to carve out the growing point – again with a sharp knife – while keeping the majority of the rosette of leaves. I felt confident this would work because it’s effectively the same as cutting the top off. The risk, I thought, was that it may just sprout a single growing point.

To my absolute surprise and delight however, the Aeonium has, in just over a week already sprouted four new growing points at the tip. Succulents are generally slow growing but when they want to move fast, they move very fast.

You can see the new shoots already developing within the leaves of my Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’. There are four so far.

I did this now (early winter) because I felt that it would give the plant a head start of new growing points before the coming spring.

An additional benefit I suspect is that because the cut to remove the main growing tip was tiny, the plant wont have an unnatural looking stump, instead some more natural looking branching – I’ll update this page in future when I know for sure.

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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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12 thoughts on “How to make an Aeonium arboreum branch (part one)

  1. Hi Jack,

    I have a Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ that is also just a single rosette, although a healthy one that I’m nervous to kill. How did this method of inducing branches work out for you? I’m tempted to try this myself instead of cutting the entire top off.

    Thanks,

    JD

    1. Hi JD! It worked well it has certainly branched nicely. Though they produce side shoots so readily that I wouldn’t worry about lopping the top off. Unfortunately my Aeonium is not a strong grower in general – I’m not sure why, it never has been – and the rosettes aren’t particularly large so it doesn’t look impressive yet. Nothing to do with the branching.
      Jack

          1. Great! Also color would be then proper-schwarz outside. Mine is growing out in windowsill in northern Italy now, the lowest temperature at night we have around minus-1. It’s pretty hardy!

          2. Oh, interesting! I may try that when the little cuttings bulk up next winter. I love it more and more as a plant.

  2. I had two rather sad looking aeoniums in the greenhouse over winter. So brought them inside and put them by a window but under a reading lamp with one of IKEAs plant lightbulbs and in just four days it has made a remarkable difference. They are dark, glossy and plumped up once again.

  3. Good afternoon! I just inherited an aeonium arboreum (I believe), but it appears the parent stem which is about 2″ thick has been lobbed off. There are two other stems that have 1 bloom on each. My question would be, do I lob off the parent stem so it’s not just a stump? Thank you…I’m new to this!

    1. If all parts are flowering – it will die after flowering. So you are best cutting the parent one to a stump again soon for more shoots and to keep it alive 🙂

  4. Thank you I have, the soil does not feel healthy at all, its been ignored for sometime I would imagine. Is it ok to take it out, start with fresh succulent soil and repot?

  5. Hi Jack,
    Thank you so much for this post. I tried this on my single stem Aeonium Zwartkopf, cutting off as little as possible, and 2 weeks later I also have 4, possibly 5, new florets growing nicely. All without losing a majority of the lush main rosette.

    I’m hoping that by the end of the Sydney summer they will have branched off nicely too!

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