What are monocarpic succulents?

If your succulent recently died after putting off a beautiful bloom, you may have a monocarpic succulent! Find out what that means in this post!

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I know the term monocarpic may sound scary, but it's really not! What does it mean exactly? A monocarpic succulent only flowers once and then dies.

While I knew that most Agaves die after they bloom, but wasn't aware that other succulents do as well. I discovered first hand though that this was the case.

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I've begun planting quite a few Sempervivums in my garden lately. A few weeks ago I noticed several were beginning to bloom.

I was excited to see what their flowers looked like. I'm not a huge fan of succulent blooms, but it is interesting to see how they vary. As it turns out, Semps have a fairly unique look to their flowers.

Not long after the blooms had fully opened I noticed that the “hen” or mother plant was starting to turn black. These particular plants are in the shade so I knew it wasn't sunburn. I didn't think it was over watering as they don't get watered more than once a week and the soil is usually bone dry by the time I water again.

So, I did some research.

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When I found out Sempervivums were monocarpic it all started to make sense. Only the blooming plants were dying but the rest were in really great shape!

Here's what I learned… Most monocarpic succulents also “pup” or put off a lot of new plants before they bloom. This is definitely true with Sempervivums. The plants I purchased were packed full with tons of chicks. The idea is that by the time they are ready to bloom, they've already produced more than enough plants to replace themselves so they can die happy. They put all of their effort into their beautiful (and sometimes not so beautiful) flower as their last hurrah.

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While this may not be the main cause for your succulents dying, it's definitely a possibility! I actually had one reader email me photos of their Sempervivum shortly after I found out that is what happened to mine, so I know some of you are experiencing this or will soon.

If you have experience this with any of your succulents please let me know in the comments! So far I know that Sempervivums, some Agaves, and some Aeoniums are monocarpic but I'm not sure beyond that. Also, if you ever see an Agave flower, you won't be surprised that they die afterward. The plume they get is huge! Often several feet tall. They remind me of Dr. Seuss Books.