Blooming Hens and Chicks

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

In all the years I've had sempervivum I've only ever seen them bloom once before....and now I have 2 blooming at the same time. One 'bud' is still quite small and may not grow to this size, but I was rather impressed by this big one. Can anyone tell me what factors play a roll in making a semp bloom? Is it the variety or the age or the growing conditions? All of the above?

Thumbnail by Lala_Jane
(Susan) Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

Hello Jane!
I had a whole bunch of Hen & Chicks given to me, and one bloomed just like yours.
I've since been told that each one is a different variety, and the one you & I have are the same variety, but not specifically Hen & Chicks..... I wish I could tell you more......
The ones I had were all in the same sandy, west sun area, and none of my other Hen & Chicks got the stock OR the blooms. Be glad you have this one, cuz apparently you're lucky!

I'm going to search out "blooming cactus" and see what I come up with.

-Susan-

This message was edited Jul 2, 2009 10:01 AM

Delhi, IA

Once they bloom___that's it for that hen. It will die. Semps. are monocarpic, blooming once then dying. In another thread blomma said that at three years the hen blooms and then dies. Hopefully it made some chicks to carry on your crop!! Sometimes the bloom stalks are so large they dislodge Mom and some of her chicks from the weight.

Nice looking planting. Jean

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

Thanks you guys. I had heard that the hen will die after blooming and hoped it wasn't true. But then again I can't imagine a 9" tall hen living indefinitely. LOL. This one started to dislodge from the ground but I kind of propped it up with a little extra soil. This way she can show off her plumage with pride then whither away in glory.

(Susan) Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

I had mine bloom 2 years in a row, then moved to another city, and I didn't plant it right away, so the whole plant died......possibly was going to die anyway!
I'd never heard of one blooming only once, then dying.
Ah well, learn something new every day!! :-)

-Susan-

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

Susan if yours bloomed twice that would mean they don't die after blooming. Do you recall what happened to it between the first and 2nd year? Surely the part that shot up into the air must have died off?

(Susan) Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

I was in Winnipeg, where the winters are harsh, and I just left it alone. Didn't do a darn thing to it. It was the only plant that bloomed, too. The stalk that bloomed died off a bit, but because I'd never had one bloom before, I thought I'd just leave it. I think it fell off, but I don't remember. This was the summers of 2005 and 2006 that it bloomed. I just figured I killed it by not replanting it when I moved in Aug of 2006 to another city.......

-Susan-

Delhi, IA

I wondered at the size you gave for it. It probably isn't really a semp. if it didn't die. Is the hen 9" or to the top of the bloom stalk? If the hen is that tall, I doubt if it's actually a semp. unless you've got it on steroids!! LOL

Blomma, where are you my friend; we need you.

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

OMGosh jamlover the semp itself isn't 9". That measurement is to the top of the bloom (and to be honest I'm estimating. I didn't actually measure it but now I'm tempted too. LOL!) I just said I thought it would look funny sticking up in the air like that if indeed it didn't die off. As you can see from the picture they're just plain old ordinary hens and chicks.

It was Talluluah_B that had one bloom 2 years consecutively. This is only #1 for me, but who knows?....maybe I'll get lucky too.
:-D

Alamogordo, NM(Zone 7b)

I have had them for years and never had any blooms either. This year seems to be every place I look someone has a photo of them blooming. Just wanted to share this great photo I saw on flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/33370260@N07/3678813843/

(Susan) Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

wow - a red plant with pink blooms! Beautiful!!
Mine was the exact same colouration as Janes.

-Susan-

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

That certainly IS beautiful! That reminds me that I'd really like to have some new sempervivum varieties. I've been toying with holding a very small co-op for semps and possibly sedums. Can anyone recommend a wholesale dealer that would sell to me/us? Mountaincrest is about the only one I've found that will sell to the general public and it would be nice to have a couple places to compare price and variety.

Delhi, IA

Did one with Mt. Crest in 2006; at that time we only had to purchase 2 trays. Now it's three.

Delhi, IA

Sorry duplicate post without the link. jam

This message was edited Jul 4, 2009 11:50 AM

Delhi, IA

Check out North Hills Nursery. They were recently having a two for one sale. Buy one and they send two. Three of us were able to add a number of plants by dividing up the second plant they offered.

http://www.northhillsnursery.com/Specials.html

Greensburg, PA

Lala, I've been waiting for someone to start a semp coop with MCG. I want to seriously expand my collection of heuffelii's and they have (wholesale) trays of 50 for under $50.00.

So to explain:

"heuffelii" is Semervivum/Jovibarba heuffelii, sometimes considered a Sempervivum and sometimes considered a separate family "Jovibarba"

Heuff's do not die after blooming forming large clumps.

Heuff's typcially do not set chicks on stolons. Instead they set chicks on a common root sometimes described as "corrot-like" and must be divided if you wantseparate plants.

MCG offers 24 types of heuff's, including the largest one, the smallest one, and 22 other ones many considered desirable and have been in the hobby for decades.

Their wholesale tray consists of 10 different heuff's, 5 of each kind and you can select the kinds you want.

Their semp tray consists of 84 plants, 12 kinds in qty of 7 each for about $80.

I've been toying with the idea myself of doing a MCG coop (but really don't want to - just want the plants!), so would really like to see you or someone else do oen. But looking ofr a bunch of heuff's.

Below is a pic of a heuff (var "Mars") which is a dark colored one.

Thumbnail by krowten
Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

There was a Co-op last year I participated in run by Hillbilly_Gran, the plants came from MountainCrest here is a link to the old co-op thread.
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/838778/
I planted some of them in my old boots and some mixed pots but didn't have luck keeping them over winter in the house. Some went into my new wall construction but I really don't think any of them made it either. They were nice looking plants and she took some real good care in the packing and marking. They looked good all summer long but with the wall construction and everything I just didn't get them planted in the wall outside early enough before winter set in and I had way too many plants inside last year and lost them as well.

Greensburg, PA

Holly, I know about the coop but found out too late last year to get into it. Semps need a lot of light and just don't do well indoors for very long, except in some unusual circumstances. I sympathize, trying to keep my ee's and some Oxalis going through the winter in western PA is always too iffy. My ee's complain a whole lot.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Yes, All my house plants did poorly last winter. I they usually do much better as I have a passive solar home with alot of glass. I didn't get the plants properly debugged in the fall when I brought then in and I battled spider-mites, aphids and scale most of the winter. Plus I brought in alot more plants than I normally do so they were much more crowded than usual. At the holidays I have to move them into an upstairs room for several weeks and that never helps.

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

As it turns out within minutes after making my post about a possible co-op I saw that estrail1rider was considering the same thing. I suggested Mountaincrest to her as a possible vender and I think that's the route she's going to go. Originally she was just looking at sedum but I think I've twisted her arm into ordering some semps too. I'll hold off doing anything crazy until see how this plays out. LOL.

Krowten I'm not familiar with heuffelii. Thanks for the tutorial! I'm guessing by your location that they would be winter hardy for me too. That would be wonderful as it would open up a bunch of new varieties for me too.

(Susan) Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

Jane - I'm in zone 3a, and have been able to overwinter them here, in Calgary, and in Winnipeg. Some are native to the prairies (Prickly Pear, and Pincushion) and will overwinter very nicely. No special care is needed.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Hi Jean, I heard you calling all the way to Wyoming so here I am. Haven't had much time lately to read and post.

First answer, Sempervivums are hardy to zone 4, possibly need some protection in zone 3.

If a Semp growing in full sun or part sun has never bloomed, it is not a Semp.

Even the common green Semp tectorum blooms and dies during its 3rd year. I have a bunch of them growing along my fence to keep down weeds and many are sending up flower stalk.

In contrast, if one blooms, and don't die, it is in a different family of Semps, or one that looks like a Semp but isn't. They are easily confused with the genus Echeveria, which are also called hen and chicks due to the runners they send out.

As krowten mentioned above, Jovibarba heuffelii blooms every year but don't die. This is a different variety in its own genus of Jovibarba.

I have 90+ vaieties of Semps and many are now sending up flower stalks. Pretty yes, but those are now doomed to die. I don't welcome flowers on mine since I know the outcome. I also remove the stalk since it is heavy. If the young chicks are rooted, I remove the dying hen to allow the chicks more room and light. She needs to be cut out, rather than pulled since babies may be attached by stolons even though they may be rooted. IF the last set of babies are still small and unrooted, I leave the hen until fall.

For those of you who haven't seen this photo of my Jovibarba heuffelii 'Boro', I am posting it again. This one retains its color all year. It is several years old and just sending up bloom stalks for the second time.

I found out that Mountain Crest sells under Squaw Gardens. I ordered mine last year from SG and the returned address was from MC.

Sempervivums are not native to the prairies anywhere. Today's varieties are hybrids. They were produce by man from native species that originated from the mountains of Europe, plus the common green tectorum, which is a natural specie. It was long used in Europe. growing on roofs before the invention of shingles. Also suppose to keep out evil. Sempervivums cross breed extremely easy and don't come true from seeds, which is what have given us all the beautiful hybrid varieties.

Lilly

Thumbnail by blomma
Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

And here is an updated photo of 1/3 of my collection. Photo taken June 20, 09

Thumbnail by blomma
(Susan) Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

Hiya Blomma - actually semps don't need any special care in zone 3 or 3a
As I said earlier, I've grown them in the open in both Winnipeg, and Calgary, and they come up beautifully and larger every year.
If I weren't at work I'd post a pic of my hen & chicks garden. It's lovely.
I'll try to remember tonight.

Delhi, IA

blooma, that J.heuff. Bora is really something!! And look at all of the blooms coming!! I'm going to have one of those!! How big will the clump get if you don't bother to divide it?

One of my smallest divisions____of a heuff.____that I made in May is deciding to bloom. Really surprised me. In semps we usually see flowers on the larger plants.

Like your Mars krowten. Was that from your Edelweiss order?

(Susan) Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

This is my Hen & Chick garden.
It's only 2 years old, so it's got some growing to do.
The large one in the corner is a bit of one that my neighbour grew. Her's were getting so large they were clumping 4 plants high and couldn't grow sideways anymore lol

Thumbnail by Tallulah_B
Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Here is the photo of Jovibarba heuffelii 'Bora' in full bloom. I have no idea how large it will get if not divided.

Thumbnail by blomma
Delhi, IA

Isn't nature amazing! Even on your Bora it isn't the largest heads that are blooming like it would be on a semp.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Some of you may have seen my pot of semps. I picked up these pretty stripped semps for a $1 at a small local nursery. I've had it a couple of weeks and a few of them are starting to bloom. Will probably separate the entire pot when it is done.

Thumbnail by HollyAnnS
Greensburg, PA

The striping you mention is called "watermarking" and is relatively common among Sempervivum, when they are growing well and healthy. While some semps will watermark readily, others do so seldom or not at all. I think it is more noticeable on larger semps.

While I do not know for sure and have yet to find a reference that definitely describes the cause, I believe it is the result of a plant undergoing rapid growth when conditions are varying substantially. does anybody have a reference where this is addressed as to cause?

Marinette, WI(Zone 4b)

Boy this was interesting.
Our hen and chicks is 3 years old and full of buds. I was wondering what made them blossom, because my mom had a bunch of them, and they never blossomed.

Thumbnail by kassy_51
Greensburg, PA

Some varieties bloom often and others seldom. It is commonly held that you can trigger blooming by giving lots of room, good conditions, and removing all chicks. Once the hen has bloomed, it will die. However, you can sometimes trigger additional chicks to form by removing the bloom as soon as you detect it. This will not preserve the hen that is blooming, but can cause additional plants to form. This is very uncertain but does sometimes happen according to the literature. So if you are interested in more plants and not the flowers, remove the flower buds as soon as detected.

Marinette, WI(Zone 4b)

Well this one has a bunch of chicks if you can tell in this picture.
My boyfriend got this one kind of as a joke, but it ended up being a very pretty joke. He got it from my daughter-in-law, about 3 years ago when he started rasing chikens...LOL
We have done nothing special to it, and as you can tell it is kind of crowed, but it doesn't seem to mind it.
Thanks for the info. I had someone else ask when they saw the picture of it, so I told them to check out this forum :)

Thumbnail by kassy_51
Blue Ridge Mtns, VA(Zone 7a)

Hi everyone.

I took this photo today of a blooming Hen that's now 14-1/2" tall and as an experiment I decided not to separate the chicks since there were 2 Hens in the same pot I got back in March. When the 2nd Hen began to bloom, I did cut the chicks loose so I'm waiting to see how my experiment goes and the other chicks fair.







Thumbnail by FruitOfTheVine
Greensburg, PA

The chicks should do fine, whether or not attached to the dying hen. Some growers prefer to detach the chicks form the blooming hen to prevent the hen form uprooting the chicks if it topples over.

Marinette, WI(Zone 4b)

WOW

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

If the chicks are small and yet not rooted on their own, I leave the chicks attached to the dying hen until they are rooted. I just finished removing the heavy flowering stalks on all my hens to prevent the babies from being uprooted by the leaning flower stem. I do this every year.

Hens that are old die whether you leave the chicks on or not. Nor will they produce additional babies if they are removed. Mother Nature knows what she is doing while providing growing room for the chicks left by a dying hen.

I have noticed something interesting. Each season, the chicks are produced between a different level of leaves on a rosette. The first year's chick seems always to come from the lower leaves. The next year's chicks from one level above.The last litter of chicks are produced between the highest set of leaves. IF I'm not mistaken, there are 3 levels of leaves on a rosette that produces chicks during it's lifetime. The first season, a young chicks doesn't produce unless it was formed early in the season. It then may produce some late in the season. This often depends on the variety. Some are slower to produce, than other. Larger-growing varieties seems to produce later, and fewer chicks, in life than smaller varieties. In larger vareities I found that the babies are often larger when "born".

I have tried rooting the flower stems. They rooted and all that was produced was more flowers. No chicks.

If I am correct in this, it would seem like a good way to figure the age of a hen. Have anyone else noticed, or paid attention to where the chicks are produced yearly.

A hen will bloom with maturity and sun. However, that raises another question. If a hen don't bloom from lack of sunlight, or not enough, will it die anyway? Mine are all in the sun so never tested that theory. I do know that a Semp not receiving enough sun, don't produce the beautiful colors they were hybridized for.

Below is Goedele, a large-growing variety. This particular one has formed a twin growing from the same stem. Another plant from this one grows normal. Notice the large chicks held high in the air until their weight will lower them to the ground to root. This one will have twin flower stalks.

This message was edited Jul 22, 2009 1:42 AM

Thumbnail by blomma
Belton, TX

Great thread...finally discussion about a succulent that does not have spines.

I just bought from Squaw Mountain and I give him high, high marks...fast, good packing, and sent extras! I even sent special requests as to preference in coloration and they responded very positively. I thought their prices were really good...of course, we do not have semps in our nurseries in Central Texas, sooo...maybe I do not know much about the pricing. SM price theirs out at about $4/per with some group purchases, sales, etc. How does that measure out for multiple tray purchase? or participation in a co-op.

Delhi, IA

Sounds right on for pricing. I prefer a plant with chicks forming which can be had for 4 to 5 dollars. Some received this year have set many chicks and had a parent hen bloom as well. It let's you see the whole scene in the first year!!

Belton, TX

It does give you the entire spectrum...but I really liked that each of the semps had 3 to 5 chicks still attached so I had some perspective on the time left to bloom for the mother plant. Beautiful coloration...

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