Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ is a popular succulent prized for its colorful variegated foliage. Also known as Copper Pinwheel, it is a cultivar of Aeonium decorum that originates from the Canary Islands.
With its rosette-shaped leaves radiating out like a sunburst, this striking plant adds drama to any garden or container display.
Habitat and Origin
Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ is native to the Canary Islands, located off the coast of northwest Africa. These subtropical islands have a mild climate perfect for succulents.
Aeoniums grow on rocky slopes and cliff sides, where they are exposed to full sun and dry conditions. Their fleshy leaves and stems allow them to store water to survive drought.
Description and Identification
Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ forms round, flattened rosettes 6-8 inches wide, held aloft on bare stems. The spoon-shaped leaves are yellowish-green and cream, with bright pink edges. When grown in full sun, the tips turn a coppery-red color. Every now and then, mine will throw out completely yellow rosettes which need to stay on the mother plant if at all possible since they don’t produce any chlorophyll.
Mature Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ succulents reach 1-2 feet tall and wide. Dramatic inflorescences of small, star-shaped yellow flowers appear in spring on older plants. These plants are monocarpic though, meaning the rosette which blooms will die after the flowers have bloomed and dried out.
The colorful pinwheel foliage of Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ makes this succulent easy to identify. Similar Aeonium varieties have solid green or purple leaves.
Growing Conditions for Aeonium ‘Sunburst’
Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ thrives in full sun in the early spring, fall, and winter. Provide partial shade or morning sun only in summer when it is dormant. Indoors, give it the brightest light possible.
Sandy, well-draining soil is ideal for Aeonium ‘Sunburst’. Add lots of pumice or perlite (or any other inorganic soil amendment) to cactus mix to improve drainage.
Water when at least the top inch of soil is dry. Allow the soil to completely dry out between waterings. Less water is needed in the summer. In San Diego, we usually have a few heat waves in the late summer so I have to keep an eye on the weather and give them some water ahead of the heatwaves so the roots don’t literally get cooked in the ground. It’s a thing!
Temperature and Humidity
Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ prefers temperatures between 60-80°F (15-27°C). High humidity is tolerated so this would be one of the best succulents to choose if you live in a humid locale like Florida. Avoid freezing temperatures though.
Use a balanced liquid fertilizer at 1/4 strength every 2-3 weeks in fall and winter during its active growth period. Check out my post on fertilizers here when you have a chance.
Remove spent bloom stalks and any dead or damaged leaves to improve appearance. Be sure to prune or propagate during their active growth stage. I took some cuttings late in the spring and the new growth didn’t appear until the fall so I was on pins and needles waiting to see if it was even going to survive!
Propagating Aeonium ‘Sunburst’
Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ propagates easily from stem cuttings and offsets. But again, don’t be like me and cut at the wrong time of year.
From Stem Cuttings
Take 3-4 inch cuttings from fall to spring. Allow to callous, then plant in well-draining succulent soil.
Gently remove offsets that form around the base in early fall. Pot up in your favorite succulent soil mix.
Common Problems You Might Have With Aeonium ‘Sunburst’
Slowly Turning All Yellow
This variegated aeonium ‘Sunburst’ has been struggling. Variegated plants like this one can have a hard time due to the nature of their variegation. Only the green portions of the leaves contain chlorophyll, the pigment responsible for photosynthesis. It is through photosynthesis that plants are able to harvest energy from sunlight.
The ‘Sunburst’ in the photo has been developing more and more yellow coloring on its leaves. This is a sign that the green part has more to support, as the yellow portions do not photosynthesize at all. The yellower the plant gets, the less healthy it is overall. All of the white, pink and solid yellow parts of this variegated plant are mutants that do not contribute to its health in any way.
Mealybugs, aphids and scale are going to be the standard pests you’ll see like with most succulents. Treat with neem oil or insecticidal soap spray.
Stem and root rot will happen due to overwatering. Allow your soil to dry out between waterings. Remember, that its always better to under water than overwater.
Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ is non-toxic to humans, dogs, and cats
Tips for Growing Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ Successfully
Place in bright, direct light near a sunny window
Water when soil is partly dry
Provide temperatures above 55°F (13°C)
Rotate occasionally for even growth since it will tend to grow towards its nearest light source
Plant in well-draining, sandy soil
Water more in fall/winter, less in summer
Give partial shade in hottest climates
Bring indoors if temperatures drop below 25°F (-4°C)
Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ FAQs
How do I get my Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ to bloom?
Allow the plant to mature for 2-3 years before bloom stalks form. Providing optimal sun and limiting water may encourage flowering.
Why are my plant’s leaf tips turning brown?
This can be caused by sunburn, low humidity, or inadequate watering. Move to partial shade and water thoroughly. When mine go dormant in the heat of the summer, I’ll shade mine under an umbrella.
Should I cut off the flowers after blooming?
Yes, trim off the large flower stalks after blooming finishes to encourage new growth. The plant is monocarpic and will die after flowering.
How often should I repot my Aeonium ‘Sunburst’?
Repot every 2-3 years in the fall when temps start to cool and you start to see the leaves open up, moving it to a slightly larger container. Take care not to damage the shallow roots.
Why are the leaves losing their color?
Insufficient sunlight can cause the variegated leaves to fade to solid green. Move the plant to a brighter location to restore color. Or, it might be going dormant for the summer. At which time, you’ll want to cut back on watering it. It will look pretty shabby compared to its full beauty in the cooler weather, but don’t worry. It will perk back up when temps cool down again.
Where to Buy Aeonium ‘Sunburst’
Click on the image below to get one of your very own for your succulent collection!