Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum: Etiolated Sempervivum Please Help

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(Zone 5a)
Jul 3, 2016 11:57 AM CST
Thumb of 2016-07-03/waltonftw/baba51 Thumb of 2016-07-03/waltonftw/c7a2ee Thumb of 2016-07-03/waltonftw/a91cd7
(pictures of my sempervivum from all sides)

Alright this is going to be pretty in-depth because I want to give you guys as much info as possible to try and help me!

So my boyfriend got me a sempervivum for my birthday, and he doesn't really know what healthy succulents look like, so he picked me one that was pretty pale. I put it in soil specifically for cacti and drilled a hole in the little bowl I put it in (5/16" hole) so it could drain properly. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be getting any better and it doesn't seem to be growing any chicks that I could propogate with.

The problems I'm having are:
- The leaves on the bottom are pointing downward meaning that they aren't easy to keep dry because they're actually digging down into the soil.
- I tried to put my plant out on my porch so it could get enough light, but it seemed to get sunburns so I stopped putting it in direct sunlight during midday when the sun is high.
- I have an LED grow light inside and I've been using that to try to get the sempervivum to perk up, but it doesn't seem to be working.

Please help me. I really want to keep this alive since it came from my boyfriend and it's special to me.
[Last edited by waltonftw - Jul 3, 2016 11:59 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1201167 (1)
Name: Paul
southern California
Zone 8B/9A
Region: California Herbs
Jul 3, 2016 12:34 PM CST
Hello waltonftw Smiling

The etiolation on your sempervivum doesn't seem too bad, I have often received them looking just like that (or it takes me a few days or even weeks to have time to plant them) or even paler and droopier and they always recover.

To help with the droopy leaves, I would suggest surrounding your semp with small pebbles or gravel, or chicken grit if you can find it. For tiny semps, I use a toothpick or small butter knife to gently lift the leaves and push the stones under them as far as I possibly can. The cactus mix they are in will work well for them, although I would keep the bark pieces away from the trunk or leaves because bark can hold moisture and invite rot. Watering it too often can also cause the leaves to droop like that and just make semps look quite sad! How often are you watering it? I would also drill a few extra drainage holes. Semps need very good drainage and one small hole might not be draining the soil enough to its liking. When you take it out of the pot, see if it is growing small white roots, that's a good sign. As for producing chicks it all depends on what kind it is, some semps produce lots of chicks and often whilst others produce few or rarely offset.

I don't think your semp will do well with an artificial light, I have never tried it but reading through older threads on here it isn't recommended. I live in a very hot climate and my succulents only get morning sun and they thrive. During very hot weather like we are having now I cover them with 50% shade cloth so that even the morning sun doesn't hit them full on. To get yours used to being outside you can try protecting it with a small piece of shade cloth or putting it in dappled light beneath a tree or chair or some other source of shade. I would keep it in very dappled light until it has regained some color and outgrown that sunburn a little bit and then gradually introduce it to full sun over the course of a week or so and see how well it does. Once the temperature gets over 85 mine become visibly stressed and will roast in the sun if I don't move them onto my patio.

I think yours will recover fine, it looks healthy enough to me Thumbs up
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Jul 3, 2016 12:44 PM CST
Gee, Paul did a fine job covering all the points I would have. Good advice to be taken and good luck, waltonftw! Smiling

BTW: Welcome!
Name: Tim Stoehr
Canby, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Butterflies Sempervivums Region: Pacific Northwest Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents Sedums
Bee Lover Region: Oregon Dragonflies Keeper of Poultry Cat Lover Composter
Jul 3, 2016 4:10 PM CST
I've had a few new plants that looked like that when I first got them. Just seems like something that can happen during shipment and handling and transplanting and whatnot. Those bent-down leaves may never want to bend back up but they will in due course shrivel away as do all the old leaves. Technically speaking, I don't think it is etiolated, at least not much. It actually seems to be in pretty fair condition IMO.
Semps come in all sorts of colors and change from month to month. Don't assume your plant is particularly pale, although it's certainly possible. Natural outdoor sunlight is what it wants. Some shade during the intense parts of the day would be good, especially for a potted plant that can bake and dry out.
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
Garden Art Birds Dog Lover Cat Lover Region: Pacific Northwest Hummingbirder
Jul 3, 2016 5:44 PM CST
Welcome! Waltonftw! Agree with Paul, I've had no luck growing them indoors, even near an open window...Move it outside with shade to begin with. I use a large rock or piece of slate to shade the new ones - or as Paul suggested shade cloth (which is something I don't own) Thumbs up
Using a 'top dressing' has saved my plants, and it looks pretty! So helpful for me when I started using this!! I use chicken grit or crushed gravel (like aquarium chips) I use about 2 inches on top of the soil, making sure to get it under the leaves. The crushed rock moves easily so new roots can grow in it, it drains very quickly so the plant is less likely to rot, and it looks pretty! I tip my hat to you.
Oh and also agree with Tim that your plant doesn't look too etiolated Thumbs up

(Zone 5a)
Jul 3, 2016 8:15 PM CST
Thank you for all of your help/advice you guys! I really appreciate it! Thank You!

I'm definitely going to try some sort of cover for setting it outside and incorporate some gravel in the top of my pot.
It's very reassuring that it isn't as unhealthy as I thought haha. Smiling

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