What's Wrong With My Aeonium?

Snails & Slugs:

Snails generally hide during the day and then forage at night, particularly during rainy, wet and damp weather conditions. The damage usually occurs on the foliage which is unsightly, but is not usually critical unless the plants are very small or are seedlings.

A few solutions we recommend are:

Remove any unnecessary harbour from around your plants where snails & slugs might hide throughout the day. Examples include: old pots, bricks, large rocks, pieces of wood and any rubbish lying around your collection. Keeping a clean area around your plant collection will help reduce snail & slug numbers.

At night during wet conditions when we first notice snail damage we will often put on a head torch and physically hand remove any snails and slugs. We simply pull them off, place them in a small bucket and relocate to a far away location. We have found that if you repeat this process over the next few nights (especially if it is still wet) that it can be highly effective in reducing the population around you plants in the short term. Snails will always come back whether you directly kill them or relocate, and as we have pets which we don’t which to be poisoned by using snail bait, this works really well for us.

Snail pellets. We do use this product, but only in very limited amounts and mainly in our hot house where we have seedlings and where our pets have no access.

If you don't any have pets, Snail pellets will work extremely well.


As with a lot of insects you may only notice their appearance once the damage is already done.

Caterpillars begin to become a problem in spring generally attacking the new growing tips. As Aeoniums are starting to go dormant at this time of year, you may only notice their appearance by unusual masses of tiny black or brown debris and cobwebbing on the foliage. *Please see photo's below. The debris is called frass (caterpillar excrement) and the cobwebbing is made by the caterpillar to create an enclosure to hide amongst whilst they feed.

Plants usually recover well and grow out in time unless the damage is on the stems, which may cause the whole stem to collapse.

Control is either physical removal or with an appropriate insecticide for caterpillars and/or chewing insects. As caterpillars can often be hidden amongst the foliage, a systemic actioned product is recommended. DO NOT USE any oil-based products on succulents.

Mealy Bugs:

Mealy Bugs LOVE Aeoniums! Mealy bugs are a soft bodied insects which are usually seen covered in a white waxy powder coating, which is used for their protection. It is this white coating which you will usually notice first, looking like small globs of fluff amongst the foliage of your plants. Other signs may include unhealthy looking plants with distorted or wilting leaves. Mealy Bugs are sap sucking insect and can be found not only on the foliage but also within the soil, sucking on the root system.

Mealy bugs are one of the biggest issues with growing succulents and small infestations can spread very quickly and become a huge problem if left unchecked. If you discover Mealy bugs, then immediate action is needed!

If the numbers are only very small you may be able to physically remove and destroy the insects using a tooth pick or similar pointed object. Most of the time though a spray will be required for effective control and it is recommended that  you spray your whole collection as a cautionary and preventive measure.

There are many products available for mealy bug control but as the insects can be hidden within the foliage, we recommend using a systemic actioned product rather than a just contact only spray. Repeat sprays are usually required and if infestations are really severe it may be best to discard the whole plant, including the soil. If mealy bugs are also found within the soil, wash all the soil off the root system and repot into a new clean mix.

Try to always choose the safest spray available, not only for your own health but to avoid effecting non – target beneficial insects such as bees, lacewings and ladybugs. Always read the product label and DO NOT USE any oil-based products on succulents.

We have found that if action is taken immediately, then we have very little - to NO issues with Mealy Bugs.

Crickets & Grasshopper:

Mainly seen throughout the warmer months these chewing insects generally only cause minor damage, eating the outer leaves and making the plants look unsightly. We don’t have too much of an issue with this insect so we don’t apply any control methods. As they are a jumping & flying insect and move away from the plants when approached, direct control would be difficult. If the problem was severe, a systemic insecticide for chewing insects could be used but the damage may still occur before the insect has succumbed to the effects of the insecticide.


Aphids are small sap sucking insects which generally attack the new growing tips and actively growing parts of the plant. Aphids are interesting in that they reproduce from eggs as well as give birth to live young, enabling them to multiple in numbers very quickly.

A common sign that you may have an aphid problem is the appearance of distorted plant growth, particularly at the growing tips. Further inspection will generally show an abundance of tiny insects which are usually green, white or black in colour and tend to congregate on the stems and on undersides of the leaves. 

Another interesting indicator is the presence of ants. Aphids secrete a sugary honeydew which is often collected and farmed by ants. The aphids provide the ants with the honeydew and the ants offer the aphids protecting from predators.

In the photo below you will see aphids and ants working together for mutual benefit.

If left unchecked aphids can spread very quickly from plant to plant. Infestation are not usually detrimental to Aeoniums in the long term, but will distort and hinder new growth slowing the plants down. Aphids do have the potential though to act as a vector spreading disease and viruses from plant to plant.

If the problem is only small, you may has success with simply washing the aphids off the foliage with a jet of water from the hose, which may need to be repeated.

There are many chemical products available for aphids control but try to always choose the safest spray available. Always read the product label and again DO NOT USE any oil-based products on succulents.


Sunburn can happen when plants are exposed to very hot and extreme weather conditions to which they are not accustomed too. Sunburn will generally not kill the plant out right, but either mark the foliage unsightly or severally burn and brown off the leaves. Plants will usually recover over time, but seedlings and young soft cuttings may be severely damaged or killed outright.

Sunburn generally happens for two reasons:

Firstly, it may be due to the particular species of Aeonium. Some Aeonium’s are naturally found growing in shady or filtered light environments and have evolved to grow in low light conditions and don’t like full sun. So growing them outside their preferred light requirements such as in full sun, can cause them to burn.

Secondly is that the plant is not harden off enough to handle full sun conditions. This usually happens when plants are growing in shady or low light areas, then suddenly moved to a very bright and hot location. The plants have not had enough time to adjust and “harden off” to be able to cope with the increased exposure in light and heat. We have seen some of the toughest Aeonium's suffer sunburn due to this cause. To avoid burning we recommend that plants are gradually moved to brighter conditions, particularly if moving plants over the summer period. When moving stock from our hothouse to our outdoor growing areas, we often wait for a week of cloudy overcast weather to allow the plant time to adjust to the changes in light and temperature. 

The Australian summer sun can be extremely brutal at times and most succulent collectors will protect their collections with various types of shade cloth throughout the summer months. 

Stem Rot:

Aeonium can be prone to stem rot if plants are kept too wet and good growing conditions aren’t met. Symptoms can appear suddenly and the whole plant can deteriorate very quickly. Generally the rosettes will suddenly wilt, then the stems shrivel and go wrinkly and eventually turn a black colour. The rosettes often still look good a this point, until the rot works its way up the entire stem. When plants are this affected our personal recommendations are to unfortunately dispose of the whole plant to avoid further contamination to your collection. If symptoms are noticed early enough you may be able to save your plant by cutting and removing the effected stem by cutting off below the rot and then spraying with Yates Anti Rot. This is a systemic fungicide and we have had some success with this method but repeated sprays may be necessary. If caught early and with only minor symptoms, this treatment can be very successful.

We don't have this issue happen very often, but it can happen.

A good method to help prevent and limit this sort of problem is to maintain good hygiene practices. In garden situation a lot of plant pathogens are passed from plant to plant via garden tools such a secateurs and pruners. We keep a large jar of Methylated Spirits handy, in which we continually dunk the cutting parts of our secateurs into when we are preparing cuttings or pruning our stock. The Methylated spirits keep our tools sterile, killing any potential pathogens being transferred from plant to plant.

Physical Damage:

Surprisingly the leaves of Aeoniums can be quite delicate and actually mark very easily. Over handling or where physical object such as branches or other plants brush up against the foliage, abrasive marking can occur. This is usually shown as black or brown splotches and lines where the foliage has been bruised or scratched. The damage below occurred from a batch of Aeoniums continually rubbing up against each other whilst being transported in the back of a Ute.

Thank you for reading this page. We hope this may help to identify and assisting in fixing any Aeonium related problems you may encounter.

*This page is a work in progress which we will continually add to in the near future.