Sunday, November 17, 2013

Aeonium bed update

Thirteen months ago I planted aeoniums (and a few other succulents) in a neglected bed in the side yard along the north side of the house. This is what it looked like right after planting:

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October 6, 2012

And this is what it looks like now:

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November 17, 2013

It’s downright shocking much these plants have grown. This area only receives a bit of morning sun and is in the shade the rest of the day. However, our neighbor’s house, painted a cream color, acts as a giant reflector, bathing the side yard in bright indirect light all day long. I’m convinced this has been a major reason why these aeoniums have thrived.

As you can see, this isn’t the prettiest part of the yard. There are two air conditioners, a 55-gallon rain barrel (not visible in these photos) and in general a bunch of gardening stuff that has to go somewhere. But with their densely packed rosettes and beautiful lush leaves, these aeoniums have created a real focal point—a destination, one might say, that I love to stop at as I take out the garbage or pick tomatoes from the veggie beds (which are opposite the aeonium bed).

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November 17, 2013

Some of the rosettes are enormous. The one in the next photo is 14” across.

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I’ve always thought the large clump on the right in the first three photos at the top of this post was Aeonium arboreum, but based on size, I now think it’s Aeonium undulatum.

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Aeonium (not sure which species but possibly another undulatum cultivar) and Kalanchoe ‘Fang’

‘Sunburst’ is probably my favorite aeonium. The variegation varies greatly; at Succulent Gardens I’ve seen rosettes that were almost all white, with very little green.

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Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ (left) and Aeonium undulatum

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Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ and Echeveria ‘Lady Aquarius’

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Agave guiengola ‘Crème Brûlée’ and Kalanchoe luciae ‘Fantastic’

The left side of the aeonium bed has seen progress, too, although not quite as dramatic. Here is before:

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October 6, 2012

And after:

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November 13, 2013

The two agaves in this bed—Agave xylonacantha ‘Frostbite’ and Agave ‘Mateo’ (Agave bracteosa × Agave lophantha)—have stayed about the same, but then, agaves are much slower growers than aeoniums. However, the two Echeveria × ‘Imbricata’ have formed small colonies and will continue to spread.

The most prominent specimen here is this 40-inch tall Aeonium ‘Cyclops’. The largest rosette has a diameter of 16 inches. I love the floppy leaves tinged with purple. In strong sun it would be far more purple (it’s a hybrid between the nearly black Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ and the large Aeonium undulatum).

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Aeonium ‘Cyclops’

The only downside about aeoniums is their lack of cold hardiness. They don’t like freezing temperatures at all—much like yours truly. 28°F is about the limit. Below that, their leaves turn to mush.

Fortunately, our aeonium bed is quite protected, nestled against the house. However, on frosty nights I do throw frost blankets on these plants to prevent damage. This strategy was successful this past winter when we had two weeks of night-time temperatures in the high twenties (very unusual). Hopefully this winter will be milder because I have ever more plants to protect...

10 comments:

  1. They look fantastic. That 'Cyclops' is downright dazzling.

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    1. I may have to take cuttings from 'Cyclops' soon to make more :-).

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  2. Looking very good!

    So far no freezing temps for us, however just tonight I saw a forecast for 26 later this week. That changes everything!

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    1. I just ordered four more frost blankets. Somehow I have more plants to protect this year than last. Most of them would probably be OK without protection, but I prefer to err on the side of caution.

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  3. Both beds looks really good and have done very well, love em! Aeoniums and the other succulents have definitely enjoyed having the free root run and are showing their appreciation.

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    1. You're right. Free root run is key. I wish I had more room so I could set my other potted succulents free.

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  4. Great results! Do you wish you had put another Aeonium into the left bed in place of one (or more) of the Agaves to balance them out? I know they'll eventually catch up, but that's probably the time you'll be pulling the plants in the right bed because they're too big. :)

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    1. Yeah, I wish I'd filled the left-hand side with nothing but aeoniums but I really wanted a place for more agaves. Compromise is the name of the game when you're chronically short on planting space, like I am.

      I'll trim back the large clump on the right (Aeonium undulatum) next spring and fill a couple of large pots with the cuttings.

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  5. What pretty garden beds. Echeveria 'Lady Aquarius' is beautiful. And the size of that last Aeonium, WOW!

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