Aeonium rosettes resemble big, fleshy-petalled daisies. Colors include green, yellow and garnet. Leaves of Aeonium 'Sunburst' are striped with yellow or cream. Aeonium 'Zwartkop', another show-stopper, is magenta-black.
There exist many aeonium hybrids. Some species are shrub-forming; all produce rosettes at the tips of ever-lengthening stems.
Aeoniums, mainly from the Canary Islands, thrive in mild, dry climates. Give them the same care as other soft-leaved succulents (as explained in my books and on this site's Succulent Care Basics page). Most can't handle freezing temperatures or desert heat.
Aeoniums are on my list of succulents for coastal Southern CA gardens. Farther inland, protect them from harsh midday sun and grow them as understory plants in bright or dappled shade.
When aeoniums get leggy, cut off the tops leaving an inch or two of stem and throw the rest of the plant away, roots and all. Replant the head as a cutting.
Aeoniums are monocarpic, meaning they die after blooming. But most aeoniums form branching shrubs, and not all the rosettes in a shrub flower at once, so you don't lose the entire plant. The easiest way to propagate them is to cut off small side branches and insert in the soil with the rosette just above the ground. Aeonium blooms make long-lasting cut flowers.
Greenovias, a type of aeonium, hail from the Canary Islands as well, and have similar care and cultivation requirements as aeoniums. The surging popularity of greenovias is likely due to the aesthetic appeal of the plants' whorled, overlapping leaves. This gives them a form which more closely suggests a rose than other rosette succulents (especially a rare pink greenovia). During summer dormancy, greenovias close their rosettes and become egg-shaped with leaves that flare outward at the top. This makes them look like rose buds beginning to open.
In addition to their whirlpool shape, greenovias differ from aeoniums in that they have double the number of petals on their flowers. But of course, you don't really want them to, because aeonium rosettes are monocarpic (die after flowering).
Aeoniums For Your Garden (3:16)
Debra's Dozen Easy-Grow Succulents, from Aeonium to Zebra Plant. A must-read for beginners trying to make sense of succulents. Discover lovely, readily available varieties anyone can grow.