Sempervivum forum→What are your top 5 cultivars?

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Name: Sol Zimmerdahl
Portland, Oregon (Zone 8b)
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GeologicalForms
Aug 26, 2020 5:32 PM CST
It'd be fun for us to start a discussion about our absolute favorite cultivars. Everyones got different tastes and criteria, so let's here it! what are your top five sempervivum varieties and why?

I think it'd be wise to limit our lists to plants we have actually had for a while so we can actually comment on how they grow in our various conditions. Lot's of amazing varieties out there that could be better, but if you haven't had them for a few seasons it'd be tough to say how good they really are.

I'll get the ball rolling by picking my CURRENT top five, bare in mind these change for me all the time!

'Gold Nugget'
- Who can't love this plant? such vibrant color and not a bad grower. A little summer shade seems to help this one past it's sun sensitivity, but the extra fuss is well worth it.

'Silver Song'
- A strong grower without many weaknesses, this one seems to be the waxiest plant on the market. Offsets better than most other "powdered" sempervivum and has leaves wide enough to add interest in the form category.

'Highland Mist'
- A bizarre powdery velvet cultivar I've had for only a year. Absolutely nothing like it on the market today, offsets well and it's Ciliosum heritage contributes a very interesting fur texture, which combined with it's light base color that lasts for most of the year makes this plant too unique to ignore.

'Casa Blanca'
- What a show this one puts on all year round! fantastic color in a durable plant. The orange and red tones are accented with a bright green heart. Stunning. Offsets well and very tolerant in adverse weather conditions, balanced and beautiful.

'Crazy'
- Out of all the mutations on form I like this one the best. The leaves form plated patterns that twist and turn, such interest! Not the best grower in my collection but not bad enough to disqualify it from my list.

Well there are the top five off the top of my head right now. What do you think about my picks and what are yours?
[Last edited by GeologicalForms - Aug 27, 2020 6:34 AM (+)]
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Name: Melissa Hopper
St. Helens, Or (Zone 8a)
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MelissaHopper
Aug 26, 2020 5:33 PM CST
I would be hardpressed to list just five.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Aug 27, 2020 9:46 AM CST

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I will have to think about this, and take a walk around my two beds.
But right off I would have to put 'Andinn Lady Midday' on that list for a very long season of beautiful pink color.
[Last edited by valleylynn - Aug 27, 2020 9:50 AM (+)]
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Name: Sol Zimmerdahl
Portland, Oregon (Zone 8b)
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GeologicalForms
Aug 27, 2020 4:03 PM CST
Melissa,
Of course it isn't easy when you have a sizable collection, and I'm sure today I'll be strolling through my garden and see one I'll be bothered I'd forgotten to add. Didn't think too hard about it, there are a ton of other plants I absolutely love as well.

Lynn,
'Andinn Lady Midday' is an excellent choice! It is the only "Andinn" I have. The soft pink color is lovely and I really like the blunted leaf tips. My colony is just a couple small rosettes so I figured I ought to wait before declaring that as one of my top plants.
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Aug 27, 2020 7:28 PM CST
Wow Sol,

FIVE IS HARD!! Actually my five picks would all be seedlings or cultivars in the process of being propagated for introduction of mine right now but that's hardly fair. I would pick one of the toothpicks and several of the football-sized ones. A quick walk and I had my list.

'Gisela Volker'. For a roller to impress, it has to be special. It has a rather unique form for a roller and occasionally makes fasciated rosettes. Seems to be impervious to everything.

'Adamina'. This is newly received from Germany but the color is striking. Sort of sunset shades and some true orange tones at several stages. A large nicely-formed rosette. Can't wait until I can use this as a parent.

'Bros'. OK I now this one is a slow-poke but it isn't too bad a grower for me and the color is a WOW red even now. It takes the smooth waxy finish to an extreme. The seedlings have been interesting although confusing as they are vigorous and not as red.

'Silver Song'. This was one of my favorites since I was a kid in MA. As Bill Nixon once said "that plant is special". It has more the wulfenii form and it is MAGIC as a parent, giving blues, pinks and even stripes. It NEVER looks bad or shabby.

'Pink Lotus'. I like a lot of my named varieties but this is one that also looks good all year long and it really is pink.

OK some other honorable mentions: 'Waldmeister' a wonderfully formed dark green with brown shadings; 'Frosch Konig', a very clear soft lime green; 'Picasso', a very nice medium large with very dark leaf bases, strong grower; 'Patent Leather Shoes', it really can go BLACK; 'Positively Glowing', SO bright; 'Persephone', a very wide-leaved and larger cultivar, green with red bases that unfortunately fade quickly.

Kevin
Name: Sol Zimmerdahl
Portland, Oregon (Zone 8b)
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GeologicalForms
Aug 28, 2020 5:59 PM CST
Kevin,
Only listing 5 does unfortunately mean ignoring some truly amazing plants. Those who caught this thread right away may have noticed I broke the rules by accidentally listing six plants, which I edited back to five within the first day. You might be interested to know that the sixth was 'Patent Leather Shoes', such fantastically dark color on that one and the bright green tips really set it off, a strong grower and particularly resistant to cruel summer sun.
Judging by what glimpses I've seen, your unreleased seedlings are certainly poised to change the game. Much as I love the grandiflorums, none I have at the moment are refined enough to be at the top of the heap yet, the toothpicks would certainly have made the cut though.
'Pink Lotus' fits somewhere in my top ten.
'Gisela Volker' and 'Adamina' are news to me, 'Adamina' looks very similar in photos to 'Casa Blanca', very attractive coloration.
I am thrilled to be collecting seed from 'Silver Song' and 'Bros' this year, both are excellent selections.
Thanks for sharing your top five Kevin, that was a fun read!
-Sol
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Aug 31, 2020 8:53 AM CST
Sol,

Yes I think you will be happy with the 'Silver Song' crosses. I have a couple second generation seedlings from ('Silver Song' X 'Polly Bishop') that have sent up stalks. One of these is HUGE and is crossing in the BIG bed. It also has the wide leaves of 'Silver Song', perhaps a bit wider, and has a stronger pink flush. It will probably get a name if its performance continues.

Will be interested what you get from 'Bros'. Mine were big and vigorous but not that red! I did self one of those and the seedlings look much more red. Will know more in the spring.

Kevin

Name: Sol Zimmerdahl
Portland, Oregon (Zone 8b)
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GeologicalForms
Sep 1, 2020 12:40 PM CST
Kevin,
Since 'Silverine' proved itself to be such a good parent I do expect great things from these 'Silver Song' seedlings. I tried to exploit wulfenii's high compatibility as a derivative species to get crosses between 'Silver Song' and fuzzier plants like arachnoideum and grandiflorum hybrids. Should also have some extra wide silvers coming from crosses to 'Rita Jane' and other wide leaved varieties with powdery wax. Should be interesting to see what germinates.
Hopefully I do get some fun 'Bros' seedlings, lot's of rollers blooming in close proximity, but the only other Heuff around at the time was h. Jade. I probably wouldn't have made that cross intentionally but didn't think it poor enough to separate the two.
I think a larger 'Silver Song' would definitely be worth having, hoping I get a chance to see your seedling and that it's seedlings from your current project continue to push the boundaries on size.
-Sol
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Sep 1, 2020 9:15 PM CST
Sol,

I've never taken 'Silver Song' to velvets or cobwebs as I wanted to exploit the width and size so the crosses hae always been to BIG. The 'Blue Whale' X 'Silver Song' and reciprocal groups are ENORMOUS.

Am still running WAY behind but do gardeners ever really catch up?

Kevin
Name: Sol Zimmerdahl
Portland, Oregon (Zone 8b)
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GeologicalForms
Sep 2, 2020 2:05 AM CST
Kevin,
I am curious if you've ever crossed 'Silver Song' with 'Rita Jane'? I would say that's one of my higher profile crosses of the year. I also used it's pollen on 'Fat Jack', 'Jabba The Hut' and Erwin 1. I'll be expecting some pretty impressive forms from those groups.
Judging by the day I've had I have to say; we never truly catch up, that would mean there's nothing left to do, and with a world of possibilities out there, there's always more that could have been done. Michelangelo said "no great work of art is ever finished", da Vinci ads: "only abandoned". The concept is universal and can certainly be applied to gardening just as well as anything else.
-Sol
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Sep 2, 2020 9:22 AM CST
Sol,

Never crossed those two but I've got wide leaves from a lot of different sources.

Your crosses all sound like good ones. "Jabba the Hutt' gives VERY wide seedlings so that should be a good mating. I've also liked the 'Waldmeister' seedlings from selfing so am betting Erwin's #1 will give some nice seedlings too. Generally I don't go for those smallish compact rosettes but 'Waldmeister' speaks to me.

My crosses with 'Silver Song' have been to get purples in that shape but that line got side-tracked when the pinks and stripes appeared. The cross to 'Blue Whale' was of course for size and blues.

Like your quotes from the Italian masters!

Kevin
Name: Sol Zimmerdahl
Portland, Oregon (Zone 8b)
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GeologicalForms
Sep 2, 2020 3:16 PM CST
Kevin,
it does seem that most of the good dark purples have more pointed leaves, even in my 'silverine' bee seed patch I've found that to be the case despite a number of wide leaved plants occurring in other colors. Can't pass up the striped ones though! I have two and a half (only the tips) from 'Silverine' that have developed stripes, but I've only noticed them recently which makes me think they might just show the pattern seasonally. One of these I can verify from photos to be a solid dark plant in spring which stripes as it fades. What an interesting effect! I am also very amused by some of my 'Silverine' pinks, I intend to keep a pastel and a more vibrant pink out of that group.
I'd bet those 'Silver Song' x 'Blue Whale's are really spectacular! 'Silver Song' is definitely cold hued, I imagine it would pair well with a blue.
So interestingly enough both of those renowned artists were not only Italian but also contemporaries, Michelangelo came only 23 years after da Vinci.
Cheers,
-Sol
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Sep 2, 2020 4:47 PM CST
Sol,

I have broken some of the narrow leaf and purple linkage in 'Watermark King' and 'Borscht' and there's a very wide seedling from 'Silver Song' X 'Polly Bishop' that gives very wide seedlings. All the purples derive from the tectorum selections 'Atropurpureum' and 'Atroviolaceum' and both of these are rather narrow. Polly's 'Dark Cloud' and 'Plumb Rose' are both broader and a couple of the German hybrids from 'Dark Cloud' have good width as does 'Leopold'. I have also taken the narrow ones to each other and have one 8-10" near black with long narrow and curved leaves with year round color. That is one being evaluated for introduction. So you can go both ways in terns of width. I never thought of going really narrow originally but with inbreeding I obviously had genes for narrow leaves going back to the progenitors of the dark rosettes. These ultra narrow ones obviously have concentrated these narrow genes.

The ('Silver Song' X 'Polly Bishop' )F2 striped one stays striped all year. It has longitudinal stripes of dark purple on a silver ground color. I have one that is pink on silver that fades in the summer to all pale pink. It has extremely round leaves. Both are interesting.

Kevin





Name: Sol Zimmerdahl
Portland, Oregon (Zone 8b)
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GeologicalForms
Sep 3, 2020 4:33 PM CST
Kevin,

I always enjoy the discussions on derivative species as they relate to modern hybrids. I have tectorum (triste) which seems to have the pointed leaves and goes dark certain seasons, though to a lesser degree than the two varieties you mentioned. If that long leaved black you spoke of is the same one you posted a picture of a while back, it's one of my favorites of the seedlings you've shown online.

I'm raising a batch of bee seed from 'Watermark King' this year, at a time that was in my top five, but my collection has grown steadily since then. Most of those seedlings have color already.

I have found myself favoring both slender and wide leaves in every major color category, I have a pastel pink seedling from 'Lilac Time' x 'Hordubal' that has extra sharp leaves I am considering releasing. 'Lilac Time' was a great parent, but in crosses to other wulfenii types the variation from it is less obvious. I had someone in my garden ask if one of my favorite seedlings from 'Lilac Time' x 'Silverine' was 'Lilac Time', I found that a bit discouraging as it is very similar to the mother plant, grows better though. I was considering releasing that one but now I'm not so sure. Others from that cross have more interesting forms, a few have wider leaves, but none are as big or offset as well as the lookalike. The family isn't particularly large which might be the problem, all are nice but no big standouts, there's much more variation in my 'Lilac Time' x 'Grey Lady' group though none of those have such thick wax.
'Lilac Time' is the only parent I've used every bloom season for the last three years, it's such a fantastic plant that it's hard to beat.
-Sol
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Sep 4, 2020 8:28 AM CST
Sol,

The only thing I worry about 'Lilac Time' is that it's a ROTTER. I grow mine in quite a bit of shade to keep it happy. So please watch that in the kids. Have not seen it so far in 'Jabba the Hutt' and the 'Lion King' X 'Jabba' and reciprocal look good too.

Anyway I would not double up on 'Lilac Time' if possible. This is one time I would suggest keep outcrossing rather than line breeding.

Kevin
Name: Sol Zimmerdahl
Portland, Oregon (Zone 8b)
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GeologicalForms
Sep 4, 2020 6:05 PM CST
Kevin,

So far not seeing much rot or sun damage in these groups, I pretty much just have the three crosses in my first generation of 'Lilac Time' kids, that's 'Hordubal', 'Silverine' and 'Grey Lady'. I watched a plant or two from the 'Grey Lady' crosses loose some leaves and one flat rounded rosette from 'Silverine' struggled a bit in late winter (which is frustrating because it has the most distinctive form of any in that group). All of the 'Hordubal' kids are impervious, a couple have turned out to be slow growing runts, but none have shown any signs of rot.
The next two years crosses were mostly to blues and velvets. I took it to 'Silver Song' this year, as well as a couple other light colored ones though.
Proving your point, I self crossed 'Lilac Time' last year; the seeds germinated then died much like my 'Lemon Sky' seeds did. Thanks for the tip, next year I suspect lots of seedlings will bloom. I can focus my powdery 'Lilac Time' selections to cross with the best of the 'Silverine' bee seed instead of with each other.
-Sol
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Sep 5, 2020 8:42 AM CST
Sounds like a good plan Sol. There are lots of waxy things out there that are useful parents and could be crossed into the 'Lilac Time' progeny so we can leave the rotting genes behind.

It is a pity as 'Lilac Time' has been one of my favorites.

Kevin

Romania, Mures (Zone 6b)
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PaleoTemp
Sep 6, 2020 2:47 PM CST
On the note that some cultivars are inherently weaker, what do you think about Othello? Consistently rotting on the external leaves, never a clean look, roots are fine when checked. Anyone experiencing the same?
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
Sep 6, 2020 4:56 PM CST

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'Othello' has always been a tough semp in my garden, year round. No problems. It does get bottom crispy leaves in the drought season because I don't water often enough. No rot problems.
Name: Sol Zimmerdahl
Portland, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Garden Art Container Gardener
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GeologicalForms
Sep 7, 2020 6:29 AM CST
Kevin,
Yes 'Lilac Time' is a favorite of mine to, even though it's slow growing and doesn't offset all that well. Probably my brightest waxy semp after 'Silver Song'. Of the others from that category, 'Soul' bloomed out on me last year and I no longer have 'Silverine', I've had worse rot problems with 'Lavender and Old Lace', after those 'Rita Rose' (which is more pink) and 'Pacific Blue Ice' (which is more blue) are really my only other waxy plants. I've considered buying 'Wolcot's Variety' and 'Pink Delight' on several occasions but never have. Are there any stronger growing light waxy cultivars you'd recommend?

Paleo,
'Othello' isn't one I grow.
I tend to baby my more sensitive varieties, but as my collection grows I become more and more tempted to just let them rot away, more room to try new cultivars.

-Sol
[Last edited by GeologicalForms - Sep 7, 2020 6:33 AM (+)]
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