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Aeonium smithii

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Scientific Name

Aeonium smithii (Sims) Webb & Berthel.r

Common Names

Smith's Giant Houseleek

Synonyms

Sempervivum smithii (basionym), Sempervivum foliosum, Sempervivum hispicaule

Scientific Classification

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

Description

Aeonium smithii is a small succulent that branches to form a small shrub up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall. Its stems have whitish bristly hairs, giving them a shaggy appearance, though older stems tend to lose these hairs. During the winter-spring growing season, the rosettes are up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. The spoon-shaped or paddle-shaped leaves are velvety to the touch and glossy on the upper surface. They have wavy margins, with the waviness varying from slight to pronounced. The leaves also have lengthwise purple or brownish dashes, especially on the undersides and these are thickened water-storing structures. The flower stalks are up 6 inches (15 cm) above the rosettes of leaves. Flowers are yellow and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.

Photo via haworthia.jp

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °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 smithii is native to Canary Islands (Tenerife).

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