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.

Find out what a monocarpic succulent is and why you need to know about them!

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.

Hens of Sempervivums will die after producing several new chicks and blooming

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.

The hen of hens and chicks succulents will die after the produce quite a few chicks and bloom

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.

For the succulent product this week, I wanted to tell you about Darby Smart. If you’ve been following the blog for a few weeks you’ve likely seen me talk about Darby Smart before, but today I want to talk about their DIY kits. Two of my more recent succulent projects are available to purchase as a complete kit from Darby Smart: the Himmeli Pyramid and Painted Bell Cups.

Buy Succulent Project Kits from Darby Smart

Ahh! I love how simple this project is! I had no idea it was so easy to create a himmeli pyramid with real brass pipes

These kits make it super easy to get everything you need in one place! I have loved shopping at Darby Smart. Their prices are great and with shipping included it’s more convenient than going to the craft store! I plan to do more projects that will also be available as kits on Darby Smart, so stay tuned!

16 Responses to What are monocarpic succulents?

  1. I am relieved to know that the dying after blooming is normal. I have 2 that this has happened to if I prevent the plant from blooming will that prevent the plants demise?

    Live your posts. My latest obsession is succulents

  2. My. Chicks and hens did that. They grew up over a foot tall! They blossomed and died. They did put out plenty of babies .

  3. I am completely new to succulents so I am so glad to know this. Otherwise, I would be convinced that I did something wrong.

  4. I didn’t know those kind of succulents received this name but here in Mexico is well known that the “maguey” or agave, dies after it blooms so you also have the chance to I eat those flowers. I had a kalanchoe draigemontiana and it died after it bloomed, I was so scared because I didn’t know what went wrong, my relief came when all “her sons” start growing up.

  5. Hi Cassidy: I just now read your article on this succulent,and I always wondered as well,why it would “dry up and die” but now thanks to your article I now know it wasn’t me!! I just signed up for your free e-book about succlents,as I love all of them and I have quite a few of them around my yard. I’m always surprised by their endurance here in Oregon,as our weather here can get pretty cold,sometimes in the 20’s,and I don’t bring them in!!Looking forward to reading more about these wonderful plants.

  6. Hi Cassidy. I also have a black rose that has 1 trunk and at the top has 6-7 smaller flowers a bd they are starting to bloom. I have nurtured this plant for 5 years and it has never bloomed. Now I’m concerned of potential death. So, what can I do. Firs time poster

  7. I suspect That overwatering will speed up the process of flowering and dying.
    Not all my succulents flower & die at the same time ??
    It is summer here in Australia & I tend to give them too much water and a lot seem to be flowering.

    • They will grow faster with enough water (as opposed to too little). They don’t all flower and die at the same time, even if they were purchased together. You’ll find that they vary both in time of year and which year they decide to flower. Since you’re in the middle of summer it’s normal for them to need more water so they can stay cool despite the extra heat and sunlight. Sounds like you’re doing great!

  8. I a Echeveria Rundelli – I have been very careful not to over water – but then it poured rain in NE and it got caught in it for about an hour- but I made sure it’s been dry since! I also had a bird land on it which tore up the leaves a little. But no matter how much I leave it alone it seems to be doing worse. Should I save the pups? Or is this a variety where the mother naturally dies after it flowers? The pups look relatively healthy!

    Please and thank you for your help! I have photos too!

    • Echeveria Rundelli do not normally die after flowering but it is possible. Yours looks like it is a little sunburned and has sustained some damage but it actually still looks relatively healthy. It won’t hurt the pups if you keep taking care of it and see if it stays alive but the damage that it has sustained will not go away unfortunately so it won’t really ever look better. You have some very healthy looking pups there! If you start to notice signs of rot I would take the pups off but right now I think they should be ok.

Let us know what you think!

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Wondering who I am?

Let me introduce myself... My name is Cassidy Tuttle and I’m a professional photographer turned succulent addict. These are my two sweet children and wonderful husband in the photo with me!

My adventure with succulents started with three small plants on the window sill of my basement apartment. Within a year I had propagated them and purchased more, totaling over 100 plants!

It’s been a fun adventure since then as I’ve drowned, burned, frozen, and starved my collection of succulents. This site is where I teach you how to avoid all those mistakes I made or help you recover from them.

While I’ve killed plenty of succulents in the last few years, I’ve also kept hundreds alive and thriving, and I know you can do the same!

Did I mention I wrote the book on succulents?

It’s true! I’m the author of Idiot’s Guides: Succulents which is designed to help those of us who love succulents (but are limited to growing on our window sills and porches) keep our succulents looking great.

You can purchase my book through my Amazon affiliate link here or pick it up at your local Barnes and Noble.

If printed books aren’t your thing, I’ve also written several ebooks about succulents on various topics including indoor growing, watering and propagating. You can check those out on this page.

My goal is to help you not just keep your succulents alive, but help them thrive no matter where you live.

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff!

I’m impressed you’ve made it this far down. You should probably be rewarded for that…

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