When the snow melted early this past spring, I was horrified to discover that the deer had totally decimated all of the sempervivums in several large gardens. They didn’t leave a single plant… each one was eaten right down to the ground. It was a discouraging start to the new growing season.
I knew that all of my sempervivums had had a very substantial root system, and at first I was hopeful that some of them would grow back from the roots. Then I called a few local nurseries and e-mailed several more online nurseries, all specializing in sempervivums, and everyone told me that my sempervivums were a total loss… that a sempervivum that has been eaten down to ground level is dead and will not grow again. It looked like I had lost all of the sempervivums in all of the gardens.
Early in the spring… nothing left but the eaten-down stubs
There was a lot to do around here this spring and I kept postponing pulling up the sempervivum roots. And then one day I noticed a tiny green “something” growing in the middle of the dead stub of one of the eaten sempervivums. It was only about the size of the white tip of a wooden “kitchen” match and way too small to see any detail. I took a digital photograph and enlarged it, and with magnification I could see that the green something was a complete tiny sempervivum that was a perfectly-formed rosette despite its miniature size.
The first rosette (magnified… the sticks are pine needles!)
Over the next few weeks more tiny sempervivums grew out of the other dead stubs, and every one made its appearance as a complete rosette. It was almost unbelievable that something so incredibly tiny was so perfectly constructed.
I still can’t believe that I didn’t lose all my sempervivums after all… or that those first tiny plants could grow so amazingly fast. Most reached a small adult size before the end of the summer, and many even produced babies… and all of this happened without any intervention from me. I am so glad I did not follow the advice I was given to count the sempervivums as a total loss and pull up the roots!
Most of the previously “dead” areas have already filled in like this
The question now is will the deer come back this winter? I really think last year’s deer feast was an aberration because I’ve had sempervivums growing in those same gardens for the last twenty years, and deer have never bothered them before. But… just in case… I purchased several jars of cayenne pepper and several containers of baby powder at the dollar store, and I have mixed the two together to scatter around the sempervivums. Supposedly deer find this combination extremely distasteful.
Let’s hope it works!