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MONOCARPIC: Aka 'Death Blooms' and Why They Are Not So Scary



In this blog post, we'll explore the world of monocarpic vs terminal inflorescence succulent blooms and provide essential care tips & tricks for beginners. Whether you're a seasoned succulent lover or just starting your plant journey, this guide will help you nurture and appreciate these one-of-a-kind plants.


Table of Contents


 

What are Monocarpic vs Polycarpic Succulents?

  • Monocarpic succulents are a particular group of plants that die after they flower and set seeds. In the plant world, we know this final bloom as the 'death bloom'.

    • Before the final bloom, these plants often produce offsets or "pups" to ensure the continuation of the species.

      • While this may seem like a disadvantage, monocarpic succulents can be strikingly beautiful with their unique growth habits.


Monocarpic Aeonium 'Lily Pad'
Monocarpic Aeonium 'Lily Pad'

 

  • Polycarpic succulents are a type of succulent that can live for many years and produce beautiful flower stalks multiple times throughout its particular growing seasons.

(Examples of polycarpic succulents & their normal blooms.)


 

While monocarpic plants bloom directly from the central growth point, so do many other species, and it's not always a 'death bloom'.


What is a Terminal Inflorescence?

  • Terminal inflorescence refers to the arrangement of flowers on a plant where the flowers are borne at the tip of the stem or branches. Making it seem like the plant is monocarpic, however, it is still a polycarpic plant.

  • This type of inflorescence can be found in various plant species, not just succulents.

  • The growth of the stem or branch typically stops once the flowers have bloomed and the mother plant lives on without dying.

(Examples of terminal inflorescence blooms)



Is My Succulent Monocarpic?

How To Identify A Monocarpic Succulent.


Determining whether a succulent is monocarpic or not can be a bit tricky, but not hard to spot. Most are just terminal inflorescence. Sometimes folks may confuse terminal inflorescence with 'death blooms' since they can grow from the central apex also.


Here are a few telltale signs that can help you identify if it is a monocarpic succulent:

  1. First, look at the size and age of the plant. Many monocarpic succulents take several years to reach maturity and produce their first and only flower stalk. As your plant matures, watch for signs that it's entering the flowering stage, such as the formation of a tall, central stalk or a change in leaf color or shape.

  2. Second, monocarpic succulents typically produce a tall, central-growth flower stalk that emerges from the center of the plant. You will also see pups form around the mother's base.

(Monocarpic succulent blooms)


Still not sure? Post a photo and ask the group, Succulents & Propagation, we are always happy to assist!


Monocarpic Succulent Life Cycle

Preparing for the Flowering Stage & What to Expect during the flowering process:


The life cycle of monocarpic succulents consists of three main stages: growth, flowering, and death.

  1. During the growth stage, the plant focuses on producing leaves and developing a strong root system.

  2. Once the plant reaches maturity, it enters the flowering stage, your monocarpic succulent will produce a stunning bloom that can last for several weeks or even months. The flowers may be large and showy or small and delicate, depending on the species and size of the plant. Continue to provide proper care during the flowering stage, but be prepared for the plant's eventual decline.

  3. Once the flowering process is complete, the mother plant will die, leaving behind seeds or offsets for future generations.

This life cycle sets monocarpic succulents apart from other types of succulents, which can continue to grow and flower multiple times throughout their lives.




Can I Stop a 'Death Bloom' from Happening?


Although there is no way to stop a monocarpic succulent from blooming, there are some steps you can take to make sure your plant lives for as long as possible. These include providing adequate sunlight, water, fertilizing, and keeping the temperature consistent.


With proper care and attention, you might be able to enjoy your monocarpic succulent for many years before it reaches its final bloom. You may also save the seeds and replant them!



Our Succulent Care Tips & Tricks


  • Watering: Monocarpic succulents, just like other succulents, require well-draining soil and infrequent watering. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, and then water deeply until water drains from the bottom of the pot. Over-watering can lead to root rot and other issues, so it's essential to monitor the soil's moisture level.


  • Soil: The best type of soil for monocarpic succulents is a well-draining mix, such as a cactus or succulent potting mix. You can also create your own mix by combining equal parts of potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand. This will ensure proper drainage and prevent root rot.


  • Light: Monocarpic succulents thrive in bright light. Place your plant near a very sunny south or west-facing window, or if you are able to invest in some indoor grow-lights, they will help immensely and keep your succulents from etiolating.


  • Temperature: The ideal growing temperature range for summer monocarpic succulents is between 65-80°F (18-27°C) during the day with slightly cooler weather at night. Protect your non-winter plants from extreme temperature fluctuations and frost, as this can cause damage or even kill the plant. However, note that sempervivums & some winter-growing varieties do very well in colder conditions.



S&P Tips for Encouraging Healthy Growth


  • Propagation: To propagate monocarpic succulents, you can use offsets (pups) that grow around the mother plant's base. Gently remove the offset, allow it to dry for a day or two, and then plant it in well-draining soil. Keep the soil slightly moist until the new plant establishes a root system.

  • Fertilization: Fertilize your monocarpic succulents sparingly. Apply the fertilizer once during the growing season, typically in spring or early summer.

  • Pest control: Common pests that affect monocarpic succulents include mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites. Prevent infestations by regularly inspecting your plants. If you notice pests, isolate and treat the plant with insecticidal soap, following the product's instructions.


In conclusion, monocarpic succulents offer a unique and captivating life cycle that sets them apart from other types of succulents. By following the care tips and tricks outlined in this guide, beginners and experienced plant enthusiasts alike can enjoy the beauty and intrigue of these one-of-a-kind plants. Embrace the challenge of nurturing monocarpic succulents and appreciate the fleeting, yet unforgettable, moments they bring to your plant collection.



Thank you for reading!



Photo Credit |

2 photos provided by S&P member Kim Pehi


Info Sources |

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