Mature soecimen of black leaved Aeonium arboretum 'Zwartkop'
Aeonium arboretum 'Zwartkop'

If you are looking to add drama into the garden then you will be hard pressed to find a plant that can compete with stunning Aeonium arboretum 'Zwartkop'. It is a clump-forming evergreen succulent with a shrubby habit and noted for it rosettes of succulent, deep blackish-purple leaves, and large panicles of small, starry, bright yellow flowers. Commonly known as the tree aeonium or tree houseleek, the type species is a native to the hillsides of the Canary Islands.

It is an excellent plant for coastal gardens and there is some evidence to believe that it is resistant to damage from deer.

Close up of black leaved Aeonium arboretum 'Zwartkop'
Aeonium arboretum 'Zwartkop'
Under favourable conditions you can expect Aeonium arboretum 'Zwartkop' to achieve an overall height and spread of approximately 1-1.5 metres. On the top of grey-brown stems it bears rosettes of leaves, of which each leaf can be up to 15 cm. In cooler. northern European climates it will need to be grown under glass, however it can be kept outside in a sunny position so long as it is brought in under protection once temperatures begin to drop below 7 degrees Celsius. If conditions are warm and bright enough then large pyramidal panicles of bright yellow flowers will appear in the spring. Flower bearing stems will die back to ground level.

Container grown species can be planted in a good quality, well-drained nutrient poor compost such as John Innes 'Seed and cutting', or a specifically blended cacti and succulent compost. Over the summer, allow to dry out before watering. Water very sparingly over the winter.

Plants grown outside will perform best in full sun in a well-drained, sandy loams. Only water during periods of extended drought and avoid water logging at all times.

Aeonium arboretum 'Zwartkop' received the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1993.

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