Black Rose Succulent (Aeonium Zwartkop) – Care and Propagation

Black rose succulent or Aeonium Zwartkop in a garden

The black rose succulent, also known as Aeonium Zwartop, Black Aeonium or Aeonium Arboreum Atropurpurerum, is a species of uncertain origin. Experts disagree, but the strongest theory points to its garden origin, cultivated as a variety of Aeonium Manriqueorum.

It stands out for its long stem and the popularity it has gained among collectors for the dark purple foliage, an uncommon color in these plants and highly sought after for ornamental purposes

In this guide you will learn all the information you need to know about the characteristics, care and propagation of this black rose succulent.

Table

Main characteristics

  • Light: semi-shade to full sun
  • Height: grows up to 60-90 cm tall and 15-20 cm wide
  • Soil: fast draining
  • Watering: normal
  • Minimum temperature: -2°C
  • Propagation: by seeds, shoots, and stem cuttings
  • Origin: uncertain (garden variety or cultivar)
  • Price: $5-15 USD

The black rose succulent is part of the Crassulaceae family. It grows in rosette form with thick, fleshy leaves that resemble echeverias.

If grown mostly in semi-shade, Aeonium Zwartkop has very faint dark purple leaves with green tones in the center. When grown in direct sun, it gets a deep dark purple color both at the edges and in the center of its leaves.

Yes, although it is known as the black rose succulent, its color is actually not black but a purple so dark that it appears to be black.

Aeonium Zwartkop with four rosettes
Photo by @englishplusstives

It is a large succulent compared to most, growing up to 60-90 cm tall and 15-20 cm wide.

During spring and summer, it produces star-shaped yellow flowers that make a nice contrast with the dark shade of its leaves.

How to care for black rose succulent

Light

Like most succulents with darker shades, the black rose requires at least 5 to 6 hours a day of direct sun.

In hot climates (over 30-35°C), it is recommended that these hours of exposure be during the morning, to avoid the intense noon sun that could burn the plant.

But always remember that if in the nursery where you bought it, they had it protected from the sun under a shade net or something similar, chances are that at home it will not have the same conditions. 

Once it is adapted to being in direct sun for a few hours, you can expose it to the normal number of hours.

The black rose succulent can be grown indoors and outdoors. However, if you grow it indoors, make sure it receives plenty of natural light, otherwise the plant will etiolate and lose its compact rosette shape.

Watering

The black rose succulent does not need frequent watering as excess moisture can cause root rot.

This is why you must be very careful with the watering of this succulent. Only water it when the soil is completely dry and avoid watering if the soil is still wet.

Note that watering should be done only on the substrate and never on the leaves, as this could cause fungus in the plant.

A black rose succulent with several long stems
Photo by @blanchard6910

If you want to intensify the dark purple color of its leaves, you can slightly reduce its water intake without allowing it to become dehydrated, as this plant tolerates very short periods of drought.

You will be able to detect it because the rosette begins to close and aesthetically it looks very pretty, but it will also be the warning that you should water it.

For example, if you normally water it every 9 days, you can wait a couple of days between each watering, and this will intensify its color. This technique is called "stressing" the plant.

Soil

Aeonium Zwartkop, like most succulents, adapts relatively well to any substrate that allows rapid drainage to prevent waterlogging.

The substrate, in addition to soil, should include something more porous such as gravel or volcanic rock. This will prevent it from retaining too much water and rotting.

It can even be grown in a substrate with soil only but be cautious not to overwater as excess moisture can lead to root rot, as the plant doesn't tolerate it well.

Black rose succulent with water drops on its leaves
Photo by @kenda._ro

Temperature

The ideal temperature for healthy growth and flowering of the black rose succulent is between 18 °C and 24 °C. However, it can thrive in higher and lower temperatures.

The general recommendation is to avoid growing it in very cold climates below 5 °C, but it can withstand temperatures as low as -2 °C for short periods (1 or 2 days) when the substrate is dry.

If exposed to these low temperatures for a longer period, it will most likely die quickly.

How to propagate the black rose succulent

The black rose succulent can be propagated by seeds, shoots, and stem cuttings. The most common and effective options are propagation by cuttings and shoots, while the latter is a natural process and cannot be controlled beyond taking good care of your plant.

Some people choose to use seed propagation, but this method is not commonly used as it is it is more complicated and time consuming than the previous ones.

The advantage of seed propagation is that it can be done en masse since you are not limited to cuttings or shoots that your succulent can generate.

Below, I explain how to reproduce this succulent by each method.

Seed Propagation

You can get black rose succulent seeds either by purchasing them in a specialized store or naturally when plant’s flowers are pollinated.

The steps to follow to propagate Aeonium Zwartkop by seeds are:

  1. Prepare the soil: You must prepare a draining soil and sterilize it by watering it with boiling water. This is to kill any fungi or bacteria that might be there.
  2. Place it in a container with a lid: Once the soil has cooled, place it inside a container, preferably transparent and with a lid. This is to simulate the greenhouse effect.
  3. Mix it with a less dense material: As a recommendation, mix the soil with small portions of a less dense material such as sawdust, coconut fiber or rice husk. This will make the soil a little looser and lighter, allowing the roots to penetrate and grow more easily, with less stress on the plant.
  4. Place the seeds and water the soil regularly: Once the soil is ready, drop (not bury) the seeds in it. To make them germinate, you should always keep them well hydrated and with abundant filtered light, such as near a window. It is important to avoid placing the seeds in direct sunlight during this process.

Nota: The container must have holes to avoid waterlogging and watering should be done preferably with a spray bottle. Furthermore, it is important to ensure that the soil is at least 3-4 cm deep, this will provide enough room for the roots to grow and develop properly.

The seeds usually germinate after 1 to 2 weeks and are ready for transplanting after about 2 to 3 months.

Offshoots or pups propagation

When given the proper care and conditions, Aeonium Zwartkop occasionally and slowly produces shoots. These are small fully formed plants that grow at the base of the main plant or mother plant.

To propagate the black rose succulent by offshoots, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the shoots: Try to choose the most mature shoots, even if they already have some roots on the stem. These shoots are easier to detach and will grow faster.
  2. Remove the shoots: Carefully remove them from the mother plant using disinfected scissors or cutters. Some shoots may come off just by gently twisting them. In any case, always be careful not to damage the roots.
  3. Plant the shoots: Plant them in a small pot with common succulent soil, one pot for each sprout. For your soil mix, remember to follow the recommendations mentioned above.
  4. Water the substrate: You should water the substrate generously and wait until it is completely dry to water again. Some people recommend watering with a spray bottle during the first 2 or 3 weeks, especially for the shoots that do not have roots.
Offshoots propagation of the black rose succulent
Photo by @garden_gals

The ideal time to transplant offshoots is during spring, as it is the season when they grow and reproduce the fastest. However, transplanting can also be done in other seasons, but growth may be slower.

This method, being small fully formed shoots, is very effective and enables the plant to quickly adapt to its new environment.

Stem Cuttings Propagation

This method is the most effective for propagating Aeonium Zwartkop, excluding shoots propagation, which is a natural process, and we cannot do much to control it.

Stem cuttings, being pairs of leaves along with their stem, usually grow roots in a short period of time.

Follow these steps to propagate the black rose succulent by stem cuttings:

  1. Choose the cutting: When selecting a cutting to propagate, it is advisable to choose one that is not too small, it is best to select a well-formed and mature cutting, this will promote easier and faster root development.
  2. Separate the cutting: Once chosen, separate the cutting very carefully using a knife, scissors or cutter previously sterilized with alcohol. It is important to ensure that the cut made on the cutting is as straight as possible, this facilitates the wound healing process and helps the cutting to generate roots faster once planted in the soil.
  3. Remove leaves from the stem’s base: Alternatively, once you cut the cutting, remove the lower leaves to leave the base of the stem free to facilitate root generation, with 1 or 2 cm will be enough.
  1. Let the wound dry: As the wound remains moist, it is advisable to let the cutting dry for 1 or 2 days until its callus forms. To promote healing, you can leave it in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and in a vertical position, such as hanging or propped up.
  2. Place the cutting into a pot: Once the cutting has healed, place it into a pot filled with soil. Wait 5-7 days before watering to allow the cutting to develop stronger and healthier roots while continuing to heal.

After the first watering, continue to care for the plant as previously mentioned.

What are your thoughts on the black rose succulent?

Aeonium Zwartkop is an unusual succulent both for its long stem and dark purple leaves that gave it its nickname of the Black Rose succulent.

Also, its delicate leaves and intolerance to moisture make it a low watering plant, ideal for those new to gardening.

If you liked this article, please consider sharing it with other succulent enthusiasts on your social networks. We will be thrilled if it reaches a wider audience and provides more people with valuable insights on the cultivation and propagation of the Aeonium Zwartkop, the black rose succulent.

All the best taking care of your plants!

Sources and cover image:

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Luis Camacho

I'm passionate about traveling, trekking and gardening. In this blog i want to share everything I learn throughout my journey and help you get the best of your plants.

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