Aeonium – Winter Care
7th Feb 2024 3 mins
Aeoniums thrive on heat (+12), high levels of UV light (UK Spring Summer & Autumn), good watering regimes (drenching draining and drying) and being grown in a gritty compost (40% Grit).
The natural winter conditions of the UK are not ideal for Aeoniums.
The best place to keep your Aeonium over the winter is very dry, in a heated / frost free greenhouse. This environment is giving the plants as much UV light as possible, yet the cooler temperatures (3+ degrees) and restricted watering ensure they sit dormant over the winter. This allows Aeoniums to hold their compact shape and colour, ready to continue growing with their first watering when the light levels and temperature rise in spring.
We can do very little about the lack of UV light over the UK winter, so our objective is to restrict growth over the winter months as much as possible. Triggering plant growth at this time of year will likely result in distorted growth. Ie Lush, green, etiolated growth rather than compact and coloured growth and so spoiling the plant, this is due to a lack of intense UV light.
For success we need to influence the winter growing environment to achieve as little growth as possible over the winter. You need a careful balance between giving them enough heat and water to keep the plant alive and prevent ‘leaf drop,’ yet restricting any negative distorted green lush growth.
Outside in a frost-free greenhouse, or in a conservatory this is much easier to achieve as the plants go dormant with the cool temperature and lack of water.
Inside your house this is harder to achieve since it is warm and with access to some water the plants will want to grow. Restricting water will help restrict growth. You should give succulent plants as much natural light as possible to help reduce the distorted growth.
It is possible the heat of your house and limited watering could result in the plants trying to grow (rather than sit dormant) and yet they might not be happy with the low UV light levels or the restricted water and consequently drop leaves. If this happens you may need to give the plant slightly more water to stop the leaf drop, but always wait until completely dry before watering again to prevent root rot.
Bright UV light needed to keep colours and shape
Providing your plant with heat and water will result in elongated / distorted growth if you don’t have good natural light to keep the plants in good compact shape and colour. (Good natural light is difficult to achieve in a British winter…think Tenerife where the bright sunshine means you need to wear sunglasses; this is what the plants are looking for, not our muted UK winter sunshine).
If you are unhappy with the shape of your plant in the spring you can always chop off a head, dry it out and root again in fresh gritty compost creating a new plant; give it as much UV light as possible to promote healthy growth. You can always put it outside once you are happy the frost has gone.
What to expect they look like when grown in a cold frost-free greenhouse over winter
Leaves will droop, wilt and appear withered, the centers should stay healthy looking but will be tight and closed up. The compost will be very dry and dust like. The plant is dormant but happy and can survive cold frost-free temperatures like this.