The Ever-Changing Sempervivum

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Posted by @valleylynn on
Have you ever followed a single cultivar of Sempervivum (hen & chicks) through a year of its life? If you haven’t you are in for a wonderful surprise.

These amazing plants can go through so many changes in one year that it can be impossible to identify them from one stage to another, if you don’t have them clearly tagged for identification. There are around 50 species and over 3000 cultivars.

Take the cultivar S. ‘Red Rubin’

How would you ever know that this cute little 2” offset (chick) would go from a mostly bright green color to this stunning display measuring 6” across.

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Maybe at some stage you would confuse it with ‘Abba’, ‘Fat Jack’, ‘Gay Jester’ or ‘Tederheid’.

Could you tell these apart in their green stage if they didn’t have the names on the photos? Just look at how different each one becomes as it matures.

Each variety can go through drastic changes at different times of the year, determined by the conditions they are growing in. Here ‘Abba’ goes from a soft green color to having a lovely blush.  

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‘Gay Jester’ changes from this lovely little green rosette to looking almost like it is on fire in the second photo.

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‘Fat Jack’ acquires a beautiful pattern of water markings as it takes on more of a blue tone in color.

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And here, ‘Tederheid’ shows us a very unusual color in the Sempervivum world. I love the tan color with deep red edges. Soon the rosette will become completely tan.


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‘Fuego’ is one of the semps that has year round dramatic color, both as a young offset and a dazzling mature rosette.

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They can vary in size and color according to the conditions they are grown in. If given the room to grow, some can attain 6” to maybe as much as 8” across. Some may only produce 4 or 5 offsets per year and others may produce in excess of 50 offsets a year. Like ‘Purdy’s Big Red’, that produced over 50 offsets last year.

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Then there are those that are very tiny, maybe ¼” to ½” across, such as S. arach ‘Minor’ and S. ‘Silver Angel’, that form wonderful colonies.

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Here is a small sampling of what you can find in shape and texture in sempervivum.

‘Oddity’; with its tube shaped leaves and arach ‘Ali’ covered in what looks like spider webs.

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Here we have ‘Ann-Marie’, she keeps her offsets snuggled up to her. When you click on the  photo of ‘Beautiful’, you can see the tiny cilia (hair) that lines her leaves.  

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The beauty of 'Pink Pearl’s' blue/green color with red tips has such a soft beauty in color contrast.  The neon pink stolons of ‘Korspel Sport’ gives a feeling of fun and excitement.

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The beautiful form and color of ‘Lady Kelly’ and the velvety soft fuzziness of ‘Raspberry Ice’ are a study in contrast. ‘Raspberry Ice’ is a new cultivar for me, I can’t wait for it to come out of dormancy and open its petals into a lovely rosette.

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As if that were not enough beauty, they give us intricately beautiful flowers.

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This is just the tip of a very large iceberg in color and form of the genus Sempervivum. What an adventure to embark on. The discovery is almost endless with so many to choose from. Are you ready to start on the grand adventure?

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
I'm ready! by RobinSeeds Mar 25, 2017 6:27 PM 1
Great article on a Complex Species by sandnsea2 Nov 4, 2014 9:09 AM 3
I think they're so pretty by nap Aug 25, 2013 12:53 PM 17
Where to buy? by dahtzu Jul 13, 2011 9:03 PM 1
Great Mommie You Are by LuvNature May 5, 2011 6:31 PM 16
very colorful by Lance Mar 21, 2011 7:14 PM 13

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