The Aeoniums, a type of cactus, are native to the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean region of North Africa. If a plant looks like a hens and chickens on top of a thick stalk it is possibly an aeonium. They look very much like the sempervivums of Europe and the echeverias of Mexico and Central America.

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Aeonium is a type of cactus.
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Aeonium flowers, which are usually yellow, come out of the growing points in the center of the rosette. In most cases the plant dies after flowering when the seed matures. Don't be too hasty in composting the plant, though, new rosettes sometimes appear lower down on the stems.

Most aeoniums are easy to grow if they get bright light in the winter, filtered light in summer, cool nights and good air circulation. They should be drenched and let dry between waterings, but make sure you have given them excellent drainage. While they are dormant or cold (they can take temperatures to 45°F) they need less water. When dormant, aeoniums often drop their leaves-if your aeonium has not flowered it is probably just resting.

Aeonium arboreum (saucer plant) grows up to three feet tall and has rosettes six to eight inches across. The color commonly is green, but there are varieties striped with cream and some that are reddish or purple. The purple variety, Aeonium arboreum Schwartzkopf, needs much stronger light to keep its dark purple color. Aeonium canariense (giant velvet rose) has large, floppy, green velvet rosettes.

In Aeonium decorum cristatum the succulent stem is flattened at the top like a fan and covered along the top edge with rosettes of small leaves. Aeonium pseudotabulaeforme and Aeonium tabulaeforme both have flat platelike rosettes, except that the "pseudo" one is not quite as precise and tablelike.

Aeoniums can be reproduced from seeds and leaf cuttings. Indoors, they may never set seed. If you plan to make leaf cuttings, do it while the plants are young and vigorous. Do not wait until they are in their final decline. At that time the leaves may not have enough vitality to root.

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