Aeonium 'Mardi Gras'
Aeonium 'Mardi Gras' is a succulent that forms rosettes of leaves with yellow and green variegation combined with vivid rose to rich burgundy, especially when grown in bright light or when temperatures are cooler, offering a very striking accent. It displays a riot of colors, much like the festival for which it was named.
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
Aeoniums do not like hot or dry weather. They may go dormant in summer and do not require any water, except in arid 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 Aeoniums 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.
Aeonium 'Mardi Gras' is an Altman Plants original hybrid, created by Renee O'Connell.
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Grow this plant in a full to part sun area in winter. If you live in an area where temperatures don’t get below frost or freezing, allow the ‘Mardi Gras’ to grow outside for best tri-color foliage. Include it in a rock garden or living wall for optimum presentation.
If growing in a container, allow enough room for pups to spread and have their own growing space. You may also remove offsets to different pots. This plant does not necessarily need to grow in cactus soil, as do many succulents, but it does require well-draining soil for best performance. Provide protection before frost temperatures occur.
This plant prefers to experience drier soil in summer while it goes through dormancy. Water and fertilize more often in late autumn through winter. Keep the soil slightly damp during the winter/spring period of growth. When stressing for color, allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Too much water may eliminate the red blush.
You must pay close attention to the temperatures and the amount of sun and rain that are given in climates which prevent these plants from naturalizing. It is best to keep them in this sort of setting as container plants and move them as necessary to protect them against extreme weather conditions. They do not need much space when kept as potted plants but when planted, it is generally advisable to spread the space so large. Since Aeonium holds water in its stems and leaves, its root systems are very shallow. You may notice new roots growing out of the stems if your plant is root bound. This means you need to repot your plant. This also indicates a need for a new and bigger pot when your plant begins to drop stems. Keep the stumbling blocks! If you put it on the surface of a good, well drained ground, the roots will sprout and new plants will grow.
If the bottom leaves of your Aeoniums begin to drop and fall off, do not despair. The old leaves fall off the bottom as new leaves grow on top. Don’t be too alarmed even if your plant loses everything it’s leaves in the summer. It might just have been sleeping because of the heat. Leave it alone. When the weather cools, it will probably recover.
Aeoniums are not immune to common pests that bug succulents. Fortunately, they are resilient and hardy plants and can handle almost anything, even a bad infestation. Here are some common pests that can damage aeoniums:
Aphids (Greenflies or Plant Lice)–These are small insects with fat, teardrop-shaped bodies. They usually come colors green or black, but can come in other colors. They can be found sucking on leaves or flowers at the end of the stems, on the leaves and the undersides of the plant. They are known for the sugary white substance they secrete. This sugary substance can encourage the growth of black sooty mold.
How to Deal with Aphids:
Treat the plant with a mixture of soapy water. Add a few drops of dish soap in 1-2 cups of water and mix well. Spray onto infested areas and undersides of the leaves. You can also add vegetable oil to the soapy water. Put a few drops of dish soap in 1-2 cups of water with about 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil and mix well. Spray onto the infested areas where you see the bugs. Neem oil have also been used to treat and keep aphids away. Dilute 1 tablespoon or 15 ml of neem oil in 8 cups of water and mix well. Spray the solution onto infested areas and the undersides of the leaves. When using neem oil, do so at night to prevent burning your plant from sun damage.
Repeat treatment as necessary, about once a week, until the problem is resolved.
Mealybugs-Aeoniums are particularly susceptible to mealybugs. They are tiny and very easy to miss. An early sign your plants have mealybugs is the white cottony substance you see on your plants. Chances are you’ll spot these white fluff first before spotting the bugs. These insects secrete a sugary substance which can promote the growth of mold and make the plan more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. Mealybugs are slow moving insects and can be easily recognized and removed once you know what you are looking for. You can usually spot them on the leaves or the underside of leaves, and between the joints of the plant. They can easily spread from plant to plant.
How to Treat for Mealybugs: Use a cotton swab or Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol and apply directly on the bugs and anywhere you see the white cottony substance. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle and spray rubbing alcohol directly onto the bugs and white fluff. Some people like to dilute the alcohol about half strength with water .
Instead of alcohol, you can also use soap such as dish soap diluted in water. Try using a few drops of soap in 2 cups of water and shake to mix well. Spray directly onto affected areas where you see the mealybugs and white fluff.
Repeat the treatment about once a week as needed until the problem is resolved. Isolate the infected plant to avoid contaminating your other plants as mealy bugs can spread from plant to plant.
Ants-Wherever mealybugs or aphids are, chances are you will find ants. Ants are not pestsbut when you see them all over your aeonium, you need to take a closer look because it is a sure sign that you have other pests hiding in your plants. That’s because ants farm these pests and use them as a food source. Aphids and mealybugs secrete honeydew or these sugary substance that ants love. Ants protect these pests and can transport them from one plant to another.
Remedy: Spray the plant with soapy water or insecticidal soap. Repeat as needed about once a week. You can also use ant baits near your plants to draw the ants away from your plant. Inspect the plant for other insects that are attracting the ants to the plants and treat as needed. Often, soapy water should help with the problem.
Tip: You need to get rid of the ants first before you can get rid of whatever pest infestation you may have, either aphids or mealybugs or something else. That’s because ants protect these pests and keep them around for as long as possible. Get rid of the ants first, then it will be easier to get rid of the pest infestation.
My aeoniums were hit hard by these garden pests two years ago. Thankfully, after some hard work, I got rid of them naturally without resulting to using harsh chemicals. My aeoniums are doing well these days and have remain bug free. These are very resilient plants and will usually bounce back when given a chance. Check out my post on “How to Treat Ants, Mealybugs, Aphids on Succulents” to get some useful tips on how to deal with these pests.
If you found this article helpful, I have another one on aeoniums that is just as informative. Please check it out to learn more about aeoniums: “Aeoniums Drooping, Leaves Dropping, Are My Aeoniums Dying?”
Where can you find Aeoniums? Check out my resource page for recommendations on where to purchase these and other succulent plants online.
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