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.

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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.

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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.

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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!


2017-10-05T16:13:22+00:00

16 Comments

  1. Sharron ford July 11, 2015 at 9:09 am - Reply

    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

    • Cassidy Tuttle July 11, 2015 at 10:36 am - Reply

      I’m not sure if its possible to prevent the plant from blooming, but I would guess it will still die around the same time.

  2. Celeste Yakawonis July 11, 2015 at 11:31 am - Reply

    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. Armilda Gruler July 11, 2015 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    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. Paola Cors July 11, 2015 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Cassidy Tuttle July 11, 2015 at 7:14 pm - Reply

      I didn’t realize you could eat Agave flowers. Really interesting! Also good to know about Kalanchoe daigremontiana!

  5. Yolanda Courtney August 8, 2016 at 10:44 am - Reply

    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.

    • Cassidy Tuttle August 18, 2016 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      Glad I could help! There are quite a few succulents that can tolerate cold temperatures. I’m finally starting to add more to my collection. If you’re looking for more :) Mountain Crest Gardens has a great selection.

  6. Mar Tuck January 29, 2017 at 8:52 am - Reply

    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

    • Cassidy Tuttle February 15, 2017 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      A good way to save the plant and to have a fresh start is to cut the succulent and repot it to grow again, it sounds scary but it is very doable! You can take a look at this post to learn how to do this.

  7. Mario February 9, 2017 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Cassidy Tuttle February 17, 2017 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      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. Haley June 19, 2017 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    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!

    • Cassidy Tuttle June 23, 2017 at 10:08 am - Reply

      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.

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