Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum: MotherRafaela's quest for knowledge of sempervivum

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Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
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MotherRaphaela
Jul 31, 2014 8:51 AM CST
New to all of this; not new to gardening or breeding, although the genetics I've always worked with have been pedigreed Saanen dairy goats... I've been a master gardener, gardening seriously since I became a 4-Her at the age of 10 (got my gold 10-year pin!) but found sempervivums through luck and chance ( to get heavy, we could call it Providence). To introduce my sometimes sad little self, I've been fighting my way through getting older (I turn the big 70 this fall), fighting cancer ((I'm 1 year in remission) and a horrible condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia. The last is here to stay and probably the main reason I've managed to get my focus switched to semps...

I have the fortune to live in NY State's beautiful Northern Catskills (think Cooperstown/Baseball Hall of Fame). We are elevated enough to somewhat mimic the Alpine conditions I find these little guys love. While gardening has been my side hobby (the sisters chose me as abbess about 10 years ago and I've even given over the care of our goats to another sister) I never paid much attention to the few "hens and chicks" we've always had mixed in amongst the other flowers in our landscape borders although we learned over the years that these do well when we keep them raised up out of the mud. But end-stage TN means I'm housebound when the temperature goes below 68 and/or the wind blows, which is at least 80% of the time here, and at least 90% this year (I just read it's the most severe weather in Central NY since 1998).

So this winter, thumbing through seed catalogs, for some reason I focused on Park Seeds' offer of "Hardy Mix of Hens and Chicks" and thought "why not try something fun while I'm starting seeds for Mother Michaela's vegetable garden?" I keep my sanity through the winter since TN came to stay by having a large, home-built light stand in my room and I'm still the person who raises as many of our garden seedlings as possible each year.

Somewhat to my surprise (having read the negative ratings for Park since the family sold out) the seeds began sprouting in a week or so, and kept on sprouting until I called a halt to them by dividing and planting all the ones I could realistically make room for. 6 months later, I have about 130 , with very few duplicates. Some (Lynn has seen the photos) are large enough to have graduated to six to ten in 6" pots; the rest are happily living 15 to 30 in duplicate pots. The sisters indulged me in getting a handful from North Hills Nursery this spring that I'm keeping in another pot that is outside and somewhat sheltered from the very extreme thunderstorm deluges that have been the norm this summer.

I'm glad to see that "addiction" is the term others have used with these little guys. Truly -- I'm on some very heavy pain medication, but I can keep the pressure/pain at bay with minimal pills when I'm working with or looking at these little guys (most through the jeweler's loupe I'd normally use to track bugs and blights on other plants...).

I would love to attend this hybridizing clinic, although at first glance that's pie-in-the-sky. For whatever reason, while searching for info about these little guys on the internet, trying to keep the pain at bay without taking more pills (and learning a lot -- it's amazing what's out there -- and I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before an international Sempervivum Society starts up, working with the wreckage of past groups and what survives on sites such as this, the Alpine Gardening site, etc.), I've fallen in love with the attached variety "Elaine" photographed by the Czech photographer, Jan Soućek. It is not the "Elaine" available here, hybridized by André Smits of Belgium in 1996, so of course, I begin dreaming of what I could cross with what to create a similar cultivar... And realize I know squat about how to pollinate semps... So I will learn what I can from this thread, and am grateful for the luck/fortune/providence that led me to Lynn and this web site.

Enough for one day! Go with God.
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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
Jul 31, 2014 9:45 AM CST

Moderator

Hurray! Good morning MR.
Looks like you have been busy reading. I love the little red arachnoideum you posted above. There are a number of them that look very similar to it. They are usually only red in the spring, then turn green in the summer. I love the webbing.
Here is one that has amazing webbing and great red color in the spring.

This is one of my favorites.


It would be most wonderful if you could join us in the beautiful Pacific Northwest for next springs Hybridizing Clinic.
And yes, I would call it an addiction for some of us. Whistling

And you raise goats. Another thing we have in common. I raised French Alpines for years.

We would love to see photos of your seedlings, and other sempervivum. It won't be long before you are making intentional crosses for some new and wonderful cultivars of sempervivum.

Off to check on the landscaping at the memorial. See you all later today.

Name: Julia
Washington State (Zone 7a)
Garden Photography Region: Pacific Northwest Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Dog Lover Foliage Fan Greenhouse Container Gardener Heucheras Sedums
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springcolor
Jul 31, 2014 10:00 AM CST
Welcome! MR so glad you joined us!
Sempervivum for Sale
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Jul 31, 2014 11:29 AM CST
Yes MR...Welcome and thank you for sharing so much of yourself to us. Hope you enjoy ATP! Smiling
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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CDsSister
Jul 31, 2014 11:33 AM CST

Welcome MR Welcome! You will find so much great info here. Love that the Sisters are so generous to you.

Lynn, are you helping with the landscaping at the Memorial? Pictures please Hurray!


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
Jul 31, 2014 2:22 PM CST

Moderator

Just got home, and yes it is the landscaping for the OSH Memorial. I will go back one more time next week for a 'walk through' to inventory plants and care needed.
Just a tiny bit of the landscaping. I need to get some current photos. Everything has matured since this was taken.
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This Datura has double in size since this photo, providing continues night time blooms that are very fragrant.
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There are lots of sedum plantings and a few sempervivum.
Name: Julia
Washington State (Zone 7a)
Garden Photography Region: Pacific Northwest Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Dog Lover Foliage Fan Greenhouse Container Gardener Heucheras Sedums
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springcolor
Jul 31, 2014 3:12 PM CST
Very nice, looking forward to new pictures.
Sempervivum for Sale
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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gg5
Jul 31, 2014 11:39 PM CST
Hello Mother Raphaela - so exciting to read your post! I know you will get even more joy as you peruse all the amazing photos of semps on this website!!! Its quite dangerous! nodding I imagine you like the Mother superior on "Flying Nun" (hope that isn't insulting?? I don't mean it that way, but I keep execting sister Bertrell to pop into this conversation! Hurray! Hilarious! )
On a serious note, I am sorry to hear about your chronic pain and illness, I also have some chronic pain (mild but ongoing) and I do know what you mean that these plants can take me out of my physical/mental space for a while - even for just a moment! Group hug Thank you for being so open about what is happening with you and I am so glad you are getting into these plants! I can imagine you hybridizing some amazing new plants - wouldn't that be exciting! I tip my hat to you.
@Jungleshadows about 2 weeks ago I saw that "Midas" was all bloomed out - looked to be dying, so I pulled it up and it went into the "bloomers corner" where I am hoping to get some seedlings next spring!! Anyway, this evening I went out and the plant and offsets - which had all bloomed - look very viable and so I replanted it, I'll keep an eye on it to see what happens...maybe some of these little ones can miraculously live after blooming! Thumbs up
Peace all! I tip my hat to you. Welcome!
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Container Gardener Garden Procrastinator Seed Starter Permaculture
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Sempervivums Bee Lover The WITWIT Badge
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MotherRaphaela
Aug 1, 2014 2:20 PM CST
There are so many forums here -- don't know how everyone manages to keep up! This looks like a lively one, so I'll stick with it for awhile.

A quick question -- while I do have some blooms on older plants (including an unnamed one we've had for ages that is obviously a "roller" -- little heads sending up new colonies all over the place), my seedlings have a ways to go before I can think of doing a breeding program with them (talk about teenage pregnancies?)... Has anyone ever kept seedlings indoors over the winter for the first year? Or do they truly need the cold temperatures from the start? They are small enough they will need to be sheltered -- one of our pounding thunderstorm cloudbursts would have them all washed out -- and I'm wondering if a compromise such as keeping them in a cold basement would work?

I can't believe how tiny some of them still are at 6 months and I'm wondering how tiny some of these guys can remain? I do notice (looking through the magnifier) that the little ones are almost all quite fuzzy. Do some take more than a year to get their full growth?

I'm still looking and reading so hopefully will have more intelligent questions in the future. Today was "end of month" closing out the books so this is the best I can do with plants...

A bit later... Just checked my e-mail and find a friend who likes to indulge my idiosyncracies is sending me some semps from a Youngs Garden Center. I sent her a picture of this Emily and am thrilled she more than picked up on the hint. I'm hoping this is the Emily Jan Soućek photographed in Czechoslovakia; quite different from Andre Smits Emily... I'm looking at their selection and of course am tempted by a few more -- they seem to have quite q few recent EU imports. I fell like the person who says "Get behind me, Satan," and of course, he gets behind and he pushes...

Go with God!

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Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Container Gardener Garden Procrastinator Seed Starter Permaculture
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Sempervivums Bee Lover The WITWIT Badge
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MotherRaphaela
Aug 1, 2014 6:29 PM CST
Oh my. Here Karen's got me starting a thread! Thank you. I am more comfortable not getting Kevin's hybridizing forum so far off topic. Probably all I need to do is find the time to look at some of the other forums. This is a new experience for me -- I sort of just stumbled into Lynn and she roped me into "All Things Plants," so forgive me if I'm all over the map . I don't have a whole lot of computer time and I'm going to see what I can do!

I'll repeat my question here, (please feel free to blip out my last response on Kevin's hybridizing forum, Lynn. I was glad to see you'd gotten it back on topic -- but hadn't seen that you'd moved us bodily to a whole new forum!)

Should I be keeping my 6-month old seedlings damp all the time? They look quite small in comparison to the photos I'm seeing elsewhere. I've been letting them dry out in between watering (with a spray bottle) since I didn't want them to rot. I don't think I've lost any that way, but they aren't growing very fast, either.

I need to learn how to be a better photographer, also. I tried to get closeups of my seedlings yesterday and the pictures are much too blurry to be of use. I'll keep trying -- maybe I need to find myself a photography forum as well!

Still, thanks for all the help, and go with God.
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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gg5
Aug 1, 2014 6:36 PM CST
Mother R, while the weather is warmer and they are growing (young or old) I water regularly, like any other perennial! Although I amended my soil to be faster draining, I still water every other day in the summer. I hope that answers your question. I have found the "chicks" to be quite ready to grow, so I don't baby them much around water, but I do keep them in bright shade, or just some morning sun, rather than full sun!
Cheers I tip my hat to you.
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Container Gardener Garden Procrastinator Seed Starter Permaculture
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Sempervivums Bee Lover The WITWIT Badge
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MotherRaphaela
Aug 1, 2014 6:46 PM CST
My seedlings do get watered every day (except for last week when I was away and the sister who was supposed to take care of them didn't believe I really meant every day...) but they are in a very porous, sandy mix so they may dry out too quickly.

While the older ones are all outdoors, the seedlings are all under lights indoors. The larger seedlings are all plain green, although they do show quite a bit of variety in leaf size, arrangement etc. Since many of the smaller ones, in the same situation, are showing quite a bit of color, I'm guessing the greens are truly just green, although who knows what sunshine next year may bring out. I can only wait and see!

I'm sure Kevin would have thrown away most of my green seedlings by now -- but since they are my first home-grown semps, I'll hold on to them, probably until next spring I have a new batch starting! I doubt I'm going to have much in the way of my own seed -- so next I have to find out where I can get semp seed from another source!

Now I'm done for the night.
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 1, 2014 6:58 PM CST

Moderator

My seedlings are now two years old, the larger looking ones. My seedlings from the beginning of this year are still very small. I don't fertilize for faster growth.
As long as they are looking healthy, keep doing what you are doing. You don't want to let them dry out all the way when brand new sprouts. They can dry out a little between watering once they have a nice set of leaves.

I moved the thread so we don't loose what is going on here. It is easy to loose important questions/information in some of the threads with multiple pages. Smiling
Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Container Gardener Garden Procrastinator Seed Starter Permaculture
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Sempervivums Bee Lover The WITWIT Badge
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MotherRaphaela
Aug 2, 2014 5:35 AM CST
It is interesting to see that there are ways to fertilize seedlings for maximum growth. Most of what I've read so far seemed to indicate that fertilizing semps tends to kill them. Confused Is it the type of fertilizer Kevin uses, or the way he uses it?

I have a handful of seedlings that are quite distinctive, although that may not make them different from existing cultivars. I will be patient Hilarious! and wait until next year when hopefully they will be big enough to register on a regular camera before I try to do any serious comparisons. I'll go look to see whether any of the forums give check lists of variations...

I am curious whether anyone knows where Park got their seeds? Kevin said at one point Thompson & Morgan's seeds came from a hybridizer who just sort of shook up everything he had in a paper bag. I had expected to get at most 3 or 4 different types, but there must be at least 20 distinctively different ones and I only let about half survive: one is a very dark forest green, stands out from all the others, its center tips bright red. Several are various shades of chartreuse with various types of red markings or edgings. Some are VERY fuzzy (probably too much to hope that I've got some real cobwebs); a couple of those have green growing leaves in the center, but their older leaves are quite red. Then of course a collection of much larger, plain green ones, although even they show several distinctively different leaf shapes/arrangements etc., etc. I love my jeweler's loupe that lets me pretend they are full-size...

Too many questions! Now to go look for answers... Angel
[Last edited by valleylynn - Aug 2, 2014 10:37 AM (+)]
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Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Container Gardener Garden Procrastinator Seed Starter Permaculture
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Sempervivums Bee Lover The WITWIT Badge
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MotherRaphaela
Aug 2, 2014 9:22 AM CST
OK. I'll go for broke here. Poor Lynn has to follow this, if for no other reason than it's her job! I'd love to have folks answer my questions and save me the trouble of looking for information, but please, Lynn, don't keep this posted forever!

Obviously, just dragging on the little smiley face icons at the bottom doesn't work. Any heads-up you can give me on that, so I don't embarrass myself when I join in on another forum.

Some quick photos to show what I'm talking about:
First, the plant light stand where my indoor 6-month seedling semps have been living.
2nd, the great discovery of what works to get rid of everything from gnats to mildew without poisoning the environment.
Third, my one small (6") pot of outdoor semps
Then one photo each of the unidentified semps growing in our gardens (I would love to discover they have names! They are prolific, and are easily spread around.).

Our small collection of semps has been pretty badly battered by the numerous thunderstorms we've had, even though the pot is somewhat sheltered.

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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 2, 2014 10:20 AM CST

Moderator

There is never too many questions MR.
I love your passion for these wonderful plants. I may need to go out and get a jeweler's loupe. Hurray!
My eyes just aren't what they used to be.

It sounds like you have some very interesting seedlings, a nice mix of types. It will be so much fun to watch their growing journey with you.

Fertilizing semp seedlings has to be done correctly. Time of year and amount of fertilizer does make a difference. Kevin uses a product called Quick Start, a Miracle Gro product, fertilizing every couple weeks. I think he stops the fertilizing about Sept? @JungleShadows We'll ask just to make sure on the time line of stopping the fertilizing. If you continue into the fall with fertilizing it will weaken them for winter conditions.
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
Image
valleylynn
Aug 2, 2014 10:38 AM CST

Moderator

Angel We cross posted. Green Grin!
For the emoticons, just click in the box you are going to type into, then click on the emoticon you want to use. Thumbs up
Until you click on 'Finish' it will only show the : thumbsup: Once you have posted your entry it will show Thumbs up

Unfortunately if you don't have a name for your sempervivum they will forever be known as NOID. No ID, no idenification. There are thousands of named hybrids and many named species. There is no way to be certain of the identity once a name is lost.

Your outdoor semps look great. When they bloom it can make the colony look a big messy for awhile. When the bloom is finished just cut it out of the clump at ground level. You can use one of the young offsets to fill in the hole that is left.
They look like they have come through the storm in great shape. Hurray!

I fixed them for you. Sure adds some fun to a post. Lovey dubby
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Aug 2, 2014 10:52 AM CST
Looks like a double post, Lynn...
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
Image
valleylynn
Aug 2, 2014 10:57 AM CST

Moderator

Thank you Bev. I deleted the one that didn't have the edit. Sticking tongue out
Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Container Gardener Garden Procrastinator Seed Starter Permaculture
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: New York Sempervivums Bee Lover The WITWIT Badge
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MotherRaphaela
Aug 2, 2014 7:31 PM CST
Yes, a jeweler's loupe is great and quite inexpensive -- you can get them at Amazon.com. You don't need more than 10X; in fact I think one of the lower ones 4X to 6X is better and they can be less than $10 as I recall. (I have one that gives me 3 choices, but you don't need that) It can make all the difference in deciding what is eating a plant, or one of those "no-see-ums" crawling around eating roots in the dirt...

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