If you’ve just become interested in succulents, then on entering a garden store, you may be quite bewildered at the variety of succulents on display. Many succulents look quite similar and it can be quite challenging to tell them apart.
But there are some differences that will help you distinguish between the succulents if you know what to look for.
And, in this article, we’ll discuss everything to know about Sempervivum vs Aeonium, including 5 key differences and similarities between the two types of plants.
Sempervivum vs Aeonium: Differences
There are several aspects that set both Sempervivum and Aeonium plants apart and in this section, we’ll discuss the differences between the two.
Commonly known as houseleeks, hens and chicks, and liveforever, Sempervivum is a genus comprising around 40 species of flowering plants, belonging to the Crassulaceae family.
The name “Sempervivum” is from the Latin words meaning “semper” or “always” and “vivus” or “living.”
These perennial succulents are native to the area from Iran to Morocco, the Carpathians, the Alps, the mountains of Iberia, the Balkan Mountains, the Armenian mountains, the Caucasus, Turkey and the north-eastern area of the Sahara Desert.
The succulent has fleshy leaves that can store water and this allows them to grow on stony areas, as well as sunny rocks in the mountains and alpine and subalpine belts. Sempervivums typically form mats that are made of leaves in rosettes.
Sempervivums can be found in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.
Also known as tree houseleeks, Aeonium is a genus that comprises around 35 species of subtropical, succulent plants and belongs to the Crassulaceae family. The name “Aeonium” comes from the word meaning “ageless” in ancient Greek.
Most of the Aeoniums belong to the Canary Islands, but you can find some species in Morocco, Madeira, Cape Verde, Yemen and Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia in East Africa.
Aeoniums can be found in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11.
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Sempervivum plants have fleshy pointed leaves that are arranged in rosettes. The leaves of the succulent are usually blue, green, red, copper or gold.
The plant is usually called hen and chicks, where the parent rosette or the “hen” has smaller rosettes of “chicks” growing from it.
Sempervivum plants are typically ground-hugging and, over time, they spread over the ground, forming colonies of a width of two feet or more.
Aeonium plants have waxy, glossy, flat leaves that are arranged in rosettes. Some species are low-growing and grow a few inches across, but other species of the genus are larger and grow many feet across.
The leaves of the Aeonium plant are perfectly rounded and the rosettes come in varying colors, solid or variegated in colors like red, yellow, white and green.
During the warmer months, Sempervivums produce tiny, star-shaped blooms that appear on top of the fleshy stems.
Aeoniums grow small, star-shaped blooms that appear in clusters from the center of the rosettes. The flowers of the Aeonium are quite subtle and non-showy.
Sempervivums make great houseplants, but they can be grown outdoors in the garden or in pots or containers.
Sempervivums have a reasonably good growth rate and it is best to plant them in spring. But if you’re planning to grow new plants from seed, then it is best to start them in containers in the fall.
This will ensure that you have young plants that you can plant in the garden in the spring.
You can plant Aeoniums in your garden in the ground as perennials any time of the year, but you can also grow them in containers on your patio or deck. In colder areas, it is best to grow Aeoniums in pots, which must be moved indoors before the frost arrives.
These plants are quite slow-growing, and it can take up to 5 years before they start producing flowers that grow from the center of their rosettes.
The rosettes of the Sempervivum propagate asexually by producing offsets (hen and chicks) or lateral rosettes, sexually by seeds and splitting of the rosette.
Aeoniums can be propagated by stem cuttings.
Sempervivum vs Aeonium: Similarities
Both Sempervivum and Aeonium are succulents belonging to the Crassulaceae family. They have fleshy leaves and stems that store water.
The leaves of both plants are arranged in rosettes. Both plants produce small, star-shaped blooms.
Sempervivums and Aeoniums are monocarpic, which means that after flowering, the mother plant/hen will die, but the pups/chicks will continue to produce more shoots.
How to Care For Sempervivum and Aeonium
If you have decided to grow Sempervivums and/or Aeoniums, in this section, we’ll discuss the care information for these two plant types.
Sempervivums need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. This will help to produce many offsets and optimal coloring of the foliage.
If you live in an area with a hot, dry climate, then it is possible to grow these plants in partial shade, although this may not produce vibrant foliage.
These plants are drought-tolerant, which means that they can thrive without water for several weeks. Water new plants sufficiently until they are established, but avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.
Sempervivums grow best in a well-draining gravelly or sandy potting mix. If the soil is not well-draining, you can add some perlite, sand, pumice or gravel to it to improve drainage and aeration.
Sempervivums grow well in neutral soil. If you’re growing the plants in a pot or container, then using a potting mix meant for cacti or succulents is the best.
Since Sempervivum is a frost-hardy plant, it thrives well in cold climates and can handle temperatures up to -30°F. The plant can also tolerate heat well but prefers temperatures between 65°F to 75°F.
These plants can tolerate wide humidity levels but do best in dry climates.
Sempervivums grow well in poor soils but adding a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer can be beneficial to the growth of the plant. Avoid over-fertilizing your Sempervivums.
When grown indoors or in highly humid conditions, Sempervivums are susceptible to pests like aphids and mealybugs.
Overwatering and poor drainage can cause diseases such as root rot or fungal leaf spots. So, to avoid these issues, it is best to maintain dry conditions for your Sempervivums.
Aeoniums thrive in full sun to partial shade. If the climate is very hot or in desert-like conditions, the plants may need a little shade. If placed indoors, the plants need bright, indirect sunlight.
Aeoniums need some moisture and they grow well in moist (not wet) sandy loamy soil or you can use a regular potting mix with added perlite.
If you’re growing plants in your garden that have dense soil, then you may need to improve the porosity of the soil by adding peat moss to it.
Aeoniums prefer more moisture compared to other succulents, but overwatering or wet soil can cause root rot. During the winter months, water sparingly only when one to two inches of the topsoil has dried out.
Aeoniums may go dormant in summer and do not need a lot of water, except if the weather is very dry.
The best conditions for Aeoniums are when it is not too hot, too dry or too cold. They do best in a Mediterranean type of climate. The best growing season for these plants is winter to spring when it is damp and the temperatures are between 65°F and 75°F.
Aeoniums are susceptible to pests like mites, mealybugs, aphids, scale and ants. Overwatering can lead to diseases like root rot.
During the growing season, use balanced, half-strength fertilizer once a month. Avoid feeding the plants when they are dormant.
Although there are many similarities between Sempervivums and Aeoniums, as you can see from above, there are several differences that set them apart.
So, now with all the information about these two types of succulents and their care, you can make an informed choice about the one that will be most suitable for your garden.