Aeonium 'Zwartkop' (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

When Aeoniums Get Leggy

Got leggy succulents? Off with their heads!

In this new video, I show how to do this while holding my iPhone in my left hand and doing everything else with my right. It's that easy.

I prune my arboreal aeoniums (those in the species arboreum, meaning "tree-like" or "trunk-forming") when they start to look shabby: Every three or four years. In the video you'll see how I snap off the rosettes and use them to create a lovely container garden. The same method is suitable for all stem succulents.

I've grown a dozen different varieties of aeonium in my garden for more than 15 years. Learn more about their cultivation requirements and see a gallery of aeonium photos on the Aeonium page of this site.

I also show how to redo a garden bed that's mainly aeoniums in a popular video: How to Refresh an Overgrown Succulent Garden.

A common confusion

I'm likely to blame for a common confusion regarding Aeonium 'Zwartkop' and others in the arboreum species. As opposed to more mounding, shrub-forming aeoniums, I typically describe Aeonium arboreum, A. arboreum 'Sunburst' and others as having "solitary rosettes atop ever-lengthening stems."

Aeonium arboreum atropurpureum

Aeonium arboreum atropurpureum

Laura B. in Queensland asks: "I have a zwartkop that is about 3 years old. It has a main large rosette that has actually started growing 3 smaller rosettes behind it. I am curious as to why it’s doing this? I thought that aeoniums grew a single rosette at the top of their branch?"

These plants do branch over time, I replied. "Mature specimens can become several feet tall with multiple heads."

Aeonium rosettes grow from their centers and drop their lowest leaves. I think the confusion lies in that each branch is eventually tipped by a solitary rosette. "You can remove the rosettes and start them as cuttings at any time," I added. "If you don't, the plant eventually looks like this, with ever-thicker stems and smaller rosettes."

Leggy aeoniums (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Leggy aeoniums

From my Aeonium page

Did you know I have website pages dedicated to each of the most popular garden succulents? It's a wonderful resource. Each page provides a good overview and includes a gallery of varieties. 

"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 each rosette as a cutting. Insert it into the soil, so it sits just above the ground. The best time for this is in the fall, after the weather cools, when the plants begin to come out of summer dormancy."

Related Info on This Site

Green aeonium spiral (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Aeonium Uses, Photos, IDs, Varieties

Aeonium Uses, Photos and Varieties Native to the Canary Islands and Morocco, aeoniums thrive outdoors in zone 9 (and higher if in dappled shade). Prune and replant in autumn. See All Succulent Types Aeonium Agaves Aloes Cactus Crassula Echeveria Euphorbias Ice Plants Kalanchoe Portulacaria Senecio About Aeoniums Aeonium rosettes resemble big, fleshy-petalled daisies. Colors include green,…

Aeoniums w Annie & Debra

Aeoniums with Annie Starring ‘Lily Pad’

When succulent star Annie Schreck visited recently, we did a video about aeoniums and planted several in container gardens. Learn about handling aeoniums, and discover the lovely ‘Lily Pad’ variety.

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Overgrown succulent garden (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

How to Redo an Overgrown Succulent Garden

Every three or four years I redo this succulent garden outside my office window. Last time was 1-1/2 years ago when I added the fountain. It’s an important view area because I spend so much time…uh…gazing outside instead of working. (I can’t help it. The fountain doubles as a bird bath.) In my YouTube video, How to Refresh an Overgrown Succulent Garden, I…

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Enjoyed this article? Please share it!


  1. Mary on December 12, 2022 at 5:17 pm

    What happens if you leave a leggy succulent alone?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 12, 2022 at 5:19 pm

      Hi Mary — Generally, the trunk and/or branches get thicker and the rosette/s get smaller.

  2. Ann on February 21, 2023 at 8:10 am

    I planted a cutting last summer. It has got long, and I wonder if I can just plant it deeper in a pot, or must I cut it?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on February 25, 2023 at 10:50 am

      Hi Ann — If you plant it deeper, you risk the stem rotting. There’s nothing to gain, really. It’s not like the plant will produce roots in greater quantity or faster with a long, buried stem. Rule of thumb is to cut the stem to the length that the cutting needs to stand upright. Anything longer (or deeper) is unnecessary.

      • Meiling Albert on July 20, 2023 at 4:46 pm

        I have aeoniums- green w red-brown outer edges- in several pots in different areas. They have all become very leggy and tall. The rosettes are becoming smaller and smaller. What am I doing wrong and what can I do to make them lovely again?
        They are looking very unsightly.

        • Debra on July 21, 2023 at 3:47 pm

          I’ve covered this topic several times (including above) because I often deal with it. If this page doesn’t give you the help you need, hopefully this video will: Prune and Replant Aeoniums and Senecios.

  3. Debi Otto on March 28, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    I have a very big aeonium sunburst with multiple long branches with multiple large rosettes! Loving it but it has become a bit overgrown. I am afraid to cut it back as the rosettes are so big! But the soil beneath it pretty bare and I would like to fill it in. Is it a good idea to just cut a few stems with the larger rosettes and plant those in the soil next to the other large stems to fill in while clearing up some of the overgrowth? Some are about 3-4 feet tall! This was planted about 4 years ago from just one stem. I don’t want to kill it! Would love your advice! Thanks!!

  4. Grace on December 9, 2023 at 11:26 am

    What is the white powdery stuff in between the petals? How can I treat it?

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