In the warmer months of the year the stone garden in Lady Anne’s Garden is home to a wonderful display of tender succulents in pots. Visitors often ask questions regarding the very structural and unusual Aeonium arboreum 'Atropurpureum', one of the most frequent being; "how can I get my single-stemmed aeonium to branch out like yours?"
I tell them that we just prune it… I remove the top growth of the dominant stem (leader) in order to stimulate growth of lateral buds. It’s just like pinching out your summer bedding plants to make them bushier.
Learn how to prune your aeonium
• During the growing season when the aeonium is about 15-20cm (6-8in) tall, you will need to remove some of the leaves and the growth bud at the very centre of the rosette to stimulate the plant to branch out.
• Gently peel up to 10 leaves away until you are left with a circular, bare patch about 1cm (½in) diameter in the centre.
• The original bare patch will form a scab. You will begin to notice little buds forming around the scab and as time goes on they will develop in to small rosettes. As they develop and become larger they will form new branches.
These new branches eventually become more apparent as the old leaves from the new rosettes dry and fall off at their bases over time. This is quite natural and just the continual growth of the plant - whether it has 1 or 5 branches. The stems show little scars where the leaves were once attached and I think that these give an interesting texture to the plant.
Aeonium arboreum 'Atropurpureum' and Aeonium 'Zwartkop' AGM are tender succulents and will need a bright, frost-free environment over the colder months. Use a sharply-drained soil and watch out for vine weevil grubs. As the plants get bigger they can get top heavy and tricky to move around so be careful not to snap them. Place them back out in your garden during the summer months and show off your handy work.
Cacti and Succulents