Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum: How to preserve a blooming rosette

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twitcher
Jun 7, 2012 12:44 PM CST
This question keeps coming up and I've described this procedure in multiple posts, but they keep getting lost in all the other info. So, here it is again, in its own post, to make it easier to follow.

Ok, so you have a prized rosette that has not yet produced offsets. It's the only one you have or you are not sure the others of its kind are going to survive for whatever reason. You want to preserve it. But its crowning (starting to flower). What do you do?

First of all, do not panic. Many semps will produce offsets on the flower stalk, but that is not a guarantee.

1) The earlier you catch the flowering process, the better this procedure will work.

2) Practice this procedure on something you have a lot of before you need to use it to preserve a prized rosette.

3) Break off the flower stalk near the level of the normal rosette. Be careful to not damage the rosette itself. A pair of scissors works best. You can plant the flower stalk if you want - it just might make an offset or few before dying.

4) Dig the rosette and remove excess soil.

5) Clean the rosette, washing dirt from the roots and rosette, so that you can clearly see the rosette and roots. Be sure to air dry sitting on an absorbent towel or paper towel.

6) Using a sharp knife, cut the rosette in half, down thru the stem and roots, into two equal parts. I call this a vertical division because it is parallel to the direction of the stem in the direction the plant grows. If the rosette is large and you can assure a root piece on each division, you can further divide the pieces into quarters. (4 total pieces of the rosette). The larger the division, the better it will survive, but also the more likely you will end up with a continued bloom.

7) You must dry the pieces out of the sun for several days.

8) Plant and label each piece, preferably in a separate, small pot.

9) Place planted pieces in a spot that gets good, strong light, but no sun.

10) After planting, be sure to daily mist the pots so that the surface of the soil gets darkened by the water, but will dry out before the next day. This will help avoid rot, but some regular water is important to promote growth and prevent the pieces from totally drying out.

If you follow this procedure, each piece of the plant will regenerate a rosette. Each of the rosettes will be set back considerably. One of the pieces will likely still bloom, but the other piece(s) will likely not bloom and will produce offsets. Offsets will likely appear a year or two after the surgery.

I want to note here that this procedure, before the appearance of a flower spike, is a way of reproducing or increasing the number of plants you have. You can use it to propagate the slow-increasers in your collection or to propagate those varieties that do not produce offsets on their own.

As a caution, you should keep in mind that without proper care or good technique on the divisions, you can easily kill the pieces of the rosette before they regenerate. So check them daily and adjust the care appropriate to what you see. Be sure to practice this on various sized rosettes before you actually need to do it.

Here's a picture of S. Red Beauty showing a vertical division. You are looking at one half of the rosette on the left side and two quarters of the rosette on the right side.
Thumb of 2012-06-07/twitcher/3bdaa9

The plant was further divided as the tag indicates, taking the division to the extreme. Several of these pieces died, but most survived. Good aftercare is essential. I would not divide a rosette you want to preserve to this extent - this was an experiment to see how far I could divide a rosette.
Thumb of 2012-06-07/twitcher/6f6c59
[Last edited by twitcher - Jun 21, 2014 10:52 PM (+)]
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Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
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goldfinch4
Jun 7, 2012 3:33 PM CST

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Thanks Twit! Great idea to start a thread with this information. I'm sure many of us will refer to it often. Thumbs up
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Name: Janice
Cape Cod, MA, USA (Zone 7a)
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sandnsea2
Jun 7, 2012 3:38 PM CST
Thanks, Twit!!

Love the detailed instructions and photos! I tip my hat to you.
Name: Michelle Lester
Yukon, Oklahoma (Zone 7b)
hemhead in zone 7
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keyi
Jun 7, 2012 4:32 PM CST
Thank you!!!!!! Hurray! Am trying this now on Hurricane. Thank you!!! :hurray:
Thumb of 2012-06-07/keyi/5c444d Thumb of 2012-06-07/keyi/765da5 Thumb of 2012-06-07/keyi/f78e6c
Edited to say that it is all blooming, surgery unsuccessful this time.
Hugs, Mich and Crew!
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[Last edited by keyi - Jul 2, 2012 5:13 PM (+)]
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twitcher
Jun 7, 2012 9:46 PM CST
Michelle, A little far along, but it may work. I only had one failure out of numerous try's, and that was, I think, because I did not provide enough care for the pieces and some of them died. Nice surgery though.
Name: Michelle Lester
Yukon, Oklahoma (Zone 7b)
hemhead in zone 7
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keyi
Jun 7, 2012 10:21 PM CST
Thanks. I am totally new to Semps and just got that one in the newbie free box from Janice. I wasn't sure if it was blooming or just looked like that. I'm gonna baby it along and keep my fingers crossed. THANK YOU for the tutorial!!! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
Hugs, Mich and Crew!
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Name: Kim
DC area (Zone 6b)
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twowee
Jun 8, 2012 6:10 AM CST
I agree Thank you so much for the info. I have two S. Bernstein that are looking like they are going to bloom so I'll definitely give this technique a try.
Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
Name: Sandi
Denver, Colorado (Zone 5b)
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picklepuff
Jun 13, 2012 7:46 PM CST
I'm kind of lazy when it comes to the surgical technique!! I leave the rosette in the dirt. Pinch of the bolting head (with my fingers!)and place it in the dirt and hope that some of the new off shoots develop into a chick.
Thumb of 2012-06-14/picklepuff/b9c93f
This is 'Pacific Zoftic'
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 13, 2012 10:29 PM CST

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It looks like it works Sandi. Thumbs up

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twitcher
Jun 13, 2012 11:02 PM CST
Sandi, It's a matter of how important you think the rosette. If the rosette completes a bloom, it will die. Pinching off the flower stalk can often result in the rosette producing another flower stalk whereas a vertical division results in two plants where "typically" only one plant may bloom. There are, of course, always exceptions. But offsets are not guaranteed. However, if you do vertical divisions, you can almost certainly end up with plants that will produce offsets, even if you have to repeat the surgery on a recalcitrant specimen.

Before I learned to do this type of division(back in the dark ages *Blush* ), I had a large, very beautiful, single rosette that had been a no id rescue plant from a large store. the plant did beautifully after the rescue, going on to become very large and an unusual color. Over several years, I waited for it to produce offsets, but it never did. It bloomed a magnificent bloom stalk which I had removed several times. The boom stalk seemed to have hundreds of flowers on it, but in reality it was likely around 40, and grew to be about 18" tall. Of course, it fell over. But the plant never produced any offsets, not on the rosette or blooms stalks. It exhausted itself in producing flowers. That experience is what led me to experiment with other flowering (and non-flowering) rosettes to see if there might be a better way of preserving the plant.
[Last edited by twitcher - Jun 15, 2012 8:44 PM (+)]
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Name: Kim
DC area (Zone 6b)
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twowee
Jun 15, 2012 4:49 PM CST
I think this technique is so fascinating. This is very similar to cutting Amaryllis bulb in many pieces to produce more bulbs instead of propagating by seeds. I was able to gather enough courage and did the division on S. Bernstein earlier this week. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping they will produce offsets. I couldn't have done it without your help, Twit. I tip my hat to you.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 15, 2012 5:08 PM CST

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Okay, I feel like such a coward. *Blush*
I guess I will have to give it a try. Rolling my eyes.

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
twitcher
Jun 15, 2012 8:49 PM CST
Kim, thank you for the kind words. Just keep a close eye on them and keep them out of full sun until you see that they are growing again. It's a good idea to mist the surface of the soil daily until you see them growing as well. Watch closely. without established roots they can get blown or washed away easily. They can dry out fast as well.

Lynn, You have a green thumb and experience dividing heuffelii, so gather your courage and go practice. Just try not to hear the plant screams when you cut them. Invest in ear plugs. Rolling on the floor laughing
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 15, 2012 9:24 PM CST

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My daughter is laughing uncontrollably. And I am feeling nauseated. Sad I think Cliff has some really good high tech ear things that he uses in his wood shop.
Will perform surgery tomorrow.
Gathering instruments this evening and sterilizing them. Sad
Would chloroform make it less painful? Never mind, if I used that I would just go to sleep, but I wouldn't feel a thing. Smiling

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twitcher
Jun 15, 2012 9:34 PM CST
Lynn, Not sure if you are joking. They do not scream... Crying
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 16, 2012 3:43 PM CST

Moderator

How is your hearing twit? How do I know you don't need hearing aids?
I'm wearing the ear thingyies. I'm pretty good at braille, so maybe I won't have to hear or see it. Whistling

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
twitcher
Jun 16, 2012 9:38 PM CST
One of the few things still working here or was that "still working, hear?"
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
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valleylynn
Jun 16, 2012 10:05 PM CST

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I didn't do the surgery today. Way to hot and humid. Monday is suppose to be back into the 60's.
Name: Kim
DC area (Zone 6b)
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twowee
Jun 25, 2012 3:57 PM CST
I swear that I did not here mine scream.

Top part of the rosette cut in half
Thumb of 2012-06-25/twowee/062d9a
Bottom part has four offsets in less than two weeks
Thumb of 2012-06-25/twowee/34b866
I am embarrass to admit that I have not given them water every day and they have been sitting out in the DC heat.
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
Jun 25, 2012 4:46 PM CST

Moderator

Wow. Blinking

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