ASK THE BOTANIST
As a trained environmental educator, with a specialty in marine biology, I find BOTANY - or the study of plants - to be an exciting yet at times unfamiliar endeavor for me. So when I have plant related questions (which is often) I have one friend I turn to most, the knowledgeable ZOEY MANSON!
Zoey and I often collaborate on botanical styling, art and plant care, and now I am thrilled to share her wisdom with you all! Every month we will feature a Plant of the Month that we will discuss in more depth. Scroll Down to see the this month's featured Plant of the Month!
We hope you find this page a helpful place to ask your plant related questions, request how-to tutorials, as well as, your favorite plants to feature. Zoey and I are excited to be offering this service to you all, sharing our love for plants and plant wisdoms!
ask us anything!
I began working with plants at Briggs Trees Company, in San Marcos, CA, where I was fully immersed in plant identification authenticating their entire inventory database. From there, I threw myself into planted art, landscape design and customer service working at the beautiful Barrels and Branches nursery in Encinitas, Ca. I am now studying and working full time as an ethnobotanist (someone who studies how people from different cultures use plants) at Mira Costa College in Oceanside, Ca.
PLANT OF THE MONTH:
all about aeonium
Lets talk about this months exciting succulent. The wonderful and exotically beautiful Aeonium, like these beautiful Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ pictured here!
The name Aeonium actually originates from the greek word “aionos” meaning immortal! Pretty fancy right? Aeoniums have been grown for hundreds of years all around the world. They are native to the Canary Islands of Spain. And most were spread by ships stopping by for supplies. The main reason Aeoniums do so well here in California is because like the Canary Islands we are both Mediterranean climates.
Cool thing about Aeoniums is they actually go through a period of dormancy during our hot summers here in Southern California. Which means they will shed a lot of their older leaves to save energy, and the crown of the aeonium will either drop down or close to shelter the growing tip from the harsh weather. But come late fall the Aeoniums will return to their normal glory and bush back out for the seasons to come.
They are one of the easiest and most vigorous winter growing succulents you will find. So many different hybrids exist now you can virtually make them fit into any color scheme or garden style you want. They come as clumping ground cover or as tall sculptural pieces.
Aeonium flowers or inflorescence is monocarpic! Which means they will bloom once and then die. But fear not! Because Aeoniums will branch out at the base and have several babies that take place once the parent inflorescence dies.
They are apart of the Crassulaceae family.
Aeonium is actually a fairly small genus and only contains about 35 species. But of course because they are such an awesome succulent we continue to make really awesome hybrids. because, well, Aeoniums are just AWESOME.
Hope this information helps you and have an Aeon-awesome day!
Where to grow them:
Generally speaking, if you live in more temperate conditions, Aeoniums will do well with 4-6 hours of sun. However keep in mind where you plant them because the surrounding environment will affect the way they grow. If they are surrounded by hot walls, rocks, decomposed granite, Aeoniums might suffer more in full sun vs. having more shade. Watering:
If you want your Aeoniums to grow baby grow! Then feel free to give them a little extra water during late fall, winter, and spring. These periods are when they look the most lush and also bush out more. Feel free to fertilize monthly with a granular succulent and cactus fertilizer. For summer months water them sparingly because they do go dormant.
Like a true succulent you can propagate these guys by stem cutting (leaf propagation with these is much rarer). It’s not necessary to let the fresh cut stem callus over but it’s a good preventative if you want more of a success with your propagating. I would recommend propagation during the cooler season for a faster rooting out and success rate. However it can be done during their dormant period in summer, but they will take longer to root out and establish. When first planted, water once and let dry out in between waterings to get them started. No need to fertilize until they get established.
The most common pests to plague Aeoniums are mealy bug which usually squeeze in between the leaves at the crown of the plant. They are a sap sucking insect and can be harmful to your plant if they get out of control. To naturally take care of the pest you can take soapy water with a Q-tip and clean them away. or spray the plant down with 10% rubbing alcohol and 90% water solution. Make sure not to apply these solutions to your plant in the hotter times of the day because of potential to burn the leaves. Monitor your plant to see if any new infestations occur and if all else fails. Neem oil will also take care of the mealy bug as well as other pests for future use.
Want to learn more or have questions about specific types?