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Aeonium saundersii (Martian Heads Aeonium)

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Scientific Name

Aeonium saundersii Bolle

Common Names

Martian Heads Aeonium, Martian Heads, Gomera Dwarf Aeonium

Synonyms

Aldasorea saundersii, Sempervivum saundersii

Scientific Classification

Family: Crassulaceae
Subfamily: Sedoideae
Tribe: Sedeae
Subtribe: Sedinae
Genus: Aeonium

Description

Aeonium saundersii is a perennial, densely branched shrublet, up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall, with small rosettes on delicate stems. The rosettes are up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) in diameter and have 10 to 15 rounded, green, succulent leaves with hairs and a hint of red along the margins showing from the hairy red underside. The leaves are up to 1.4 inches (3.5 cm) long and up to 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) wide. They are pleasantly scented when crushed. The lemon yellow flowers appear in mid spring. They are followed by the leaves darkening and curling inwards to ball up like a fist to conserve moisture for summer dormancy.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Aeoniums do not like really hot or dry weather. They may go dormant in summer and do not require any water, except in very dry conditions. In extreme heat, their leaves will curl, to prevent excessive water loss. Growing them in moist shade will keep them growing, but their true growth season is winter to spring, when temperatures are cool, 65 to 75 °F  (18 to 24 °C), and damp. In the winter, water whenever the soil has dried out. Test by poking your finger down into the soil an inch or 2 (2.5 to 5 cm). Too much moisture or allowing them to sit in wet soil will cause root rot.

A sandy loam or regular potting mix is better than a mix specifically for cacti and succulents, since Aeonium need some moisture. If you are growing them in containers, repot every 2 to 3 years with fresh potting soil.

Feed during the growing season with a half strength balanced fertilizer, every month or so. Do not feed while dormant.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Aeonium.

Origin

Aeonium saundersii grows naturally on steep slopes, sometimes north facing, on the Island of Gomera in the Canary Islands.

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