Growing Pains: Crispy Critters

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Growing Pains

By valleylynn
January 1, 2010

A plant clinic for Sempervivum, Jovibarba and J. heuffelii. This is a companion article for the Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum.

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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 20, 2010 11:45 AM CST
Dear Dr. Houseleeks, I am having a problem with my small varieties of sempervivum in this hot and dry weather we have been having. They are all new plants this year so don't have a root system yet to keep them going. I have been watering them every couple of days, but the soil is very fast draining. Some are getting very crispy leaves. HELP!!!!

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
twitcher
Aug 20, 2010 2:45 PM CST
Lynn, A lot depends on why they are getting crispy. I assume that you are seeing lots of the outer leaves dry up without any rot. Some types may actually try to close up in a ball.

A picture or two would be very helpful, so keep in mind this advice is for the problem where they are drying up due to too little water and that we are not dealing with a rot problem from too much heat.

Regarding the root system, if the plants are at least 30 days in the ground where you have them, then it is likely that they have grown roots already. You can check this sometime by taking a new, unrooted plant and just not planting it. You will see it send out fine roots, reaching for the ground, usually in about 2 weeks. So your plants should have roots but they will be small and maybe not too noticeable.

So back to why they are getting crispy.... What is there situation? Are they in sun or shade? If in sun, then you need to shade them or water more often, with shade being the preferred option. But if they are truly drying up, then you should be able to water more often without major problems. If you are not able to water more often, then shade.

I want to also mention that this is one of the great advantages to using pots with the Hen & Chicks. Because the plants are small and do well in pots, you can easily move them. Want to plant in a display bed somewhere? You could always sink the pot into the ground yet preserve the option of pulling the pot out and moving to another location if problems arise.

While it is usually not a good thing to transplant a stressed plant, you sometimes need to make that decision. If the plants are not going to survive in their current location and you can't fix the problem there, then transplanting is a must. Fortunately sempervivum transplant well. Just try to move some of the dirt with the roots of the plant, if you can, to a new location or pot to minimize recovery time. This is more important at the end of the growing season than the beginning, but also remember that the semps will be growing again as the temps cool a bit. I'm already seeing mine perk up now that the days are getting shorter. I routinely transplant most of the year, as time and needs dictate.

One further strategy might be helpful. I will usually try to divide any variety as soon as reasonably possible and grow each division in different locations. That way, you are "testing" for the best (should say "better" here) conditions for that variety. You'd be surprised at how much that can make a difference. You may want to move some of each type of the affected plants to an alternate location/situation.

Please let us know what you do and how it works out.

I tip my hat to you.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 20, 2010 4:19 PM CST
I havde been working out in the raised beds for several hours. The ones affected are the smaller varieties that are also new for me this year. Most are the fuzzier textured one. There definitely is no rot, just shrinking up and drying into crispy balls. I have completely lost my wonderful new S. 'Speciosum' to this. Several others are in danger. They are under shade cloth for sun protection, the soil is drying out pretty fast.
I feel the correct thing to do after reading your above advice is to remove the struggling ones from the raised bed and put in pots that can get individual attention for water needs.
All of my heuffs are doing well, minus the ones that decided to bloom. I am beginning to see that some varieties of Semps, Jovi and heuffs are much tougher than others in the same growing conditions.
I will go out and take pictures of the struggling plants. Ones right next to them are doing very well.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 20, 2010 5:10 PM CST
Here is the picture of S. 'Comolii'.
Thumb of 2010-08-20/valleylynn/fba371
Name: BlueFox
Grand Forks, B.C. Cdn. Zone 5A (Zone 4a)
Romantic & Rustic, Xeric & Organic
Charter ATP Member Sedums Sempervivums Region: Canadian Garden Art Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Cactus and Succulents Butterflies I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Xeriscape Garden Ideas: Level 1
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BlueFox
Aug 20, 2010 6:20 PM CST
A lot of mine in extremely challenging conditions do this, and when the cooler nights start and we get a bit of rain they perk up. I also do as Twit says and plant the same plant in several locations as insurance.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 20, 2010 10:35 PM CST
I just have been so busy with everyone coming home, I'm afraid I was not watching things close enough. Hopefully I have caught things in time.
Name: Charleen
Barnesville, Ga. Zone 7b-8 (Zone 8a)
Walk in Peace / I'm Charley's Mom.
Miniature Gardening Mules Tip Photographer I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Ridesredmule
Sep 28, 2010 7:15 PM CST
Look at my Crispy Critter. What to do Doc????(besides read above notes)Thumb of 2010-09-29/Ridesredmule/5392cd

Help, Dr. Leek, winter is onthe way. should I bring it into th house and peel off the black leaves????
thank you for any help.

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
twitcher
Sep 28, 2010 9:32 PM CST
I'd leave them outside in your zone. Regarding the leaves, if they are dry and the ground is dry, then they should come off very easily. It you have to tug at them hard, I'd leave them alone until they come off easy. Because of the rot problem with all the rain we had early and mid summer, I moved a lot of my plants to areas where they were protected from the rain - saw the same problems your picture shows as the late summer was very dry. (You did notice it's now Fall?) Now with the cooler temps and some rain, my plants, recently moved back, are all showing some nice growth and fall colors. I've been picking off the dried leaves as opportunity permits. Just be careful that the soil and plant are dry when you do this, so any wounds get a chance to heal.
Name: Charleen
Barnesville, Ga. Zone 7b-8 (Zone 8a)
Walk in Peace / I'm Charley's Mom.
Miniature Gardening Mules Tip Photographer I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Charter ATP Member Garden Ideas: Level 2 Seller of Garden Stuff Butterflies Birds Region: Georgia
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Ridesredmule
Sep 29, 2010 6:17 AM CST
Yes, I noticed it is fall. It has gotten cooler here and it is wonderful. I think I'll have to wait it rained recently and ground (planter ) is still moist so will just leave it alone. Thank you Dr. for your help.

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
twitcher
Sep 29, 2010 9:47 PM CST
I agree

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