Sempervivum forum: Sempervivum live 3 or 4 summers?

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Dec 28, 2011 3:00 PM CST
I have heard the life span of a Hen is three years before they send up the flower stalks and die. Does that mean the 1st summer they are born, the 2nd summer they grow and then the 3rd summer they have chicks then send up a flower stalk and die? Or is it a four summer process in Ohio Zone 5/6.

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Dec 28, 2011 6:45 PM CST

Its a good rule of thumb, but varies with the variety and the environment they grow in.

Rosettes can live longer if crowded, in my experience. It's also a theory of mine that the hen and its offsets can communicate chemically through the stolen regarding flowering. I have had hens flower that appear to trigger all the offsets to flower during the same season when the offsets are still connected to the hen. This is undesirable, as it can lead to a drastic population crash, but is fortunately rare.

Offsets can come early or later as well. Some of this is due to environment and probably some due to variety. I have one semp that has yet to flower over several years, but also has yet to produce offsets. Other rosettes that have not grown well over several years also have yet to produce offsets.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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Dec 29, 2011 10:34 AM CST


Hi Arch.

I agree with twit, growing conditions and variety play a big part in the flowering process. I have some that I've had for many years (10 yrs) that have not bloomed, and they make many offsets. Unfortunately it is a NOID, but I do know it is a tectorum of some sort. It is one that came from Helen Payne's collection.
Thumb of 2011-12-29/valleylynn/a9cae8

Then there is a new semp I got last Jan., S. 'Hookerii', the entire clump bloomed, just like twit was talking about.
Jan, 2011
Thumb of 2011-12-29/valleylynn/46124b

June, 2011
Thumb of 2011-12-29/valleylynn/279aa3

I did an experiment that twit suggested. I cut out all the bloom stalks to see if I could force the plant to produce more offsets.
Thumb of 2011-12-29/valleylynn/aefea9

Here it is a month later in July. It did produce many more offsets, some of which also bloomed, but about half of them did not bloom. So I was able to to keep from loosing the entire variety.
Thumb of 2011-12-29/valleylynn/aca2bd

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