Four summers ago one of my very ordinary green sempervivums produced some rather extraordinary flowers. This sempervivum was a very small rosette, but the flower clusters were unusually large… and although most of the flowers were the usual pink, a few flowers had a definite bluish-purple tone.
Sempervivums (Hens & Chicks)
If you’re new to growing sempervivums (commonly called hens and chickens)… the flowers, and especially the flower stalks, can come as somewhat of a shock. If you know what to look for, it is usually obvious when a rosette is about to flower… first it becomes larger than the surrounding rosettes, then a fleshy stalk starts to grow out of the center of the rosette. Eventually clusters of small buds form at the top of the stalk. Sempervivums are monocarpic, which means that after the flowers open and fade, the original rosette dies.
I have had sempervivum growing in my gardens for many years, and they are one of my very favorite plants. Often called houseleeks or by the more common name of hens and chickens, these hardy perennials have thick, fleshy leaves and grow in rosettes. Many people grow sempervivum in dry, sunny locations because they require so little moisture, but I have also had great success and much larger plants when I grow them in regular fertile garden soil.
There are two ways to propagate Jovibarba heuffelii… division and seeds.
First, divison… In Jovibarba heuffelii, the baby rosettes actually grow between the leaves of the mother rosette, eventually forming tightly packed mounds of connected rosettes growing in all directions. To remove an individual rosette for propagation, the rosette (and a portion of the root) must be cut from the mother rosette…
I have taken hundreds and hundreds… maybe even thousands… of pictures of my sempervivums. Some day (hopefully) I will get them all organized according to name. Right now, though, I thought I would share some photographs of my sempervivums in their bright spring colors. I must especially like the red tones, because I have so many in this group. Here are just a few…
Recently several readers have written to me because the tubes of their Oddity are no longer tubes, and they suddenly have a sempervivum with broad flat leaves. They are concerned that their Oddity is reverting back to a non-tubular form. I think their plants might just be adjusting to the colder temperatures.