Everything You Need to Know About Monocarpic Cacti

Monocarpic succulents are unusual plants that live only long enough to flower and then die shortly after. These plants tend to have a very large, slow growth habit and the enormous blooms on these species can last anywhere from a month all the way up to three months!
A flowering crassula ovata.

One of the most exciting moments in a succulent gardener’s life is seeing their succulent bloom. These plants usually produce beautiful flowers in many colors, such as purple, white, yellow, red, and pink. Your face is filled with a big smile once you start to see bloom stalks shooting up from the succulent, and you can’t wait for the flowers to pop up in full. However, some succulents turn black after a single blooming season and eventually die. Such succulents are known as monocarpic, and there is nothing you can do about it.

So, what is a monocarpic succulent? A monocarpic succulent is a succulent that blooms and dies thereafter. While most succulents bloom yearly, monocarpic succulents only bloom once during their lifetime and die shortly afterwards. While this may sound sad, there are several advantages to having one of these succulents in your garden or home. Generally, they require less maintenance and care than other types of succulents. Furthermore, monocarpic succulents are quite rare and unique. So, you can show off your succulent collection with pride.

This blog post discusses everything you need to know about monocarpic succulents. Read on to learn more.

Monocarpic Succulents: Overview

The term monocarpic comes from two words: Mono and caprice. Mono means one, while caprice means fruit.

Therefore, you can think of a monocarpic succulent as a plant that only blooms once before it dies. That is why some people call it the bloom of death.

Although the term doesn’t sound so good, it shouldn’t worry you much once you decide to have them in your collection.

You will soon realize that the bloom of death has nothing to do with you and how you take care of your succulent. In fact, even the best gardening experts can’t do anything about it.

The succulent usually starts turning black as soon as it finishes flowering. While watching your succulent die on you is upsetting and depressing, you must accept that this process is natural with monocarpic succulents.

Some plant experts believe that monocarpy is a strategy of many plants to produce progeny. Most of these plants usually produce so many pups before they bloom.

So, by the time they are ready to flower and die, they have created more than enough young plants to replace them.

Types of Monocarpic Succulents

You can find two types of monocarpic succulents in nurseries and garden centers: hardy and tender. Hardy monocarps can tolerate cold temperatures, while tender monocarps are more sensitive to temperature shifts.

Hardy monocarps include Dudleya, Agave, Aloe, and Haworthia. These succulents are best for outdoor gardens and can tolerate temperatures as low as -20°F (-29°C).

Tender monocarps, on the other hand, cannot tolerate cold temperatures. Some of the most popular tender monocarps include Kalanchoe, Echeveria, Crassula, and Aeonium.

These succulents are best for indoor gardens or outdoor gardens in warm climates where temperatures never fall below 40°F (4°C).

Below is a quick overview of some of the most common genera of succulents that are monocarpic (both hard and tender):

1. Agave

Some Agave plants are monocarpic. These plants are generally slow growers and may take up to 25 years to reach the blooming stage.

Agave plant with water droplets.
The dying process of monocarpic agave plants is relatively slow.

When they are ready to bloom, the plant will put all of its efforts into producing thick stems and beautiful blooms to their last breath.

The stems grow from the center of the rosette and can be up to eight feet high. The dying process of monocarpic agave plants is relatively slow compared to other monocarpic succulents. It may take several months or even one year to wither and die.

2. Aloe

Aloes are some of the most popular succulents around the world. They can make wonderful houseplants and add a lot of color to your garden.

Most aloes are not monocarpic. However, one aloe species is: Aloe dichotoma or quiver tree.

Aloe vera plant outdoors.
They can make wonderful houseplants and add a lot of color to your garden.

This plant is a slow grower and takes around ten years to flower. The inflorescence grows from the center of the rosette. After flowering, it will die but not before producing numerous offsets.

3. Crassula

Crassulas are some of the easiest succulents to take care of. Some species form clumps, while others grow in rosettes. One of the most popular monocarpic species is Crassula ovata, also known as the jade plant or money tree.

This plant produces a thick stem from its center and produces white flowers in its last days. After flowering, the stem quickly dies, but not before it produces offsets that will replace it.

4. Sempervivum

All sempervivums are monocarpic, but that should not stop you from getting one since it will take a long time for them to bloom. And when they do, they produce a lot of offsets to make up for their eventual death.

A sempervivum exposed to a morning sunlight.
These plants are best for rock gardens, wall pockets and troughs.

Sempervivum takes four or five years to bloom. Commonly referred to as the hen and chicks, these plants are best for rock gardens, wall pockets and troughs.

5. Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes come in many varieties, and you can find a range of sizes from small to large. Most kalanchoes are monocarpic and will die after flowering. The blooms may last up to eight weeks, and the death process can take several weeks to a few months.

6.    Haworthia

Haworthias are beautiful succulents that can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Haworthia cooperi is a monocarpic species that produces a long inflorescence with white flowers. This plant takes five to seven years to bloom and will die shortly after flowering.

A haworthia plant exposed to sunlight.
Haworthias are beautiful succulents that can be grown both indoors and outdoors.

How Do I Know If a Succulent Is Monocarpic?

The easiest and most reliable way to determine if a succulent is monocarpic is to research the succulent before purchasing it. Gather all the information you can find and read up on its life cycle to determine whether it is monocarpic.

If you already have the succulent in your succulent, pay attention to how the blooms start forming.

If the flowers are coming from the center of the succulent (which makes it look like the whole plant is evolving into one big flower), then the succulent is most likely monocarpic.

A kalachoe outdoors exposed to sunlight.
Pay attention to how the blooms start forming.

But if you notice the flowers coming from different parts of the plant, you can assume that the succulent is not monocarpic. In that case, you can clip off the flowers and enjoy your succulent for many years.

What To Do Before, During, and After a Bloom

Now that you know your succulent is monocarpic, it is important to know what to do before, during, and after the blooming. Just because a succulent is monocarpic doesn’t mean it will have a short lifespan.

The fact that it only blooms once in its lifetime doesn’t mean anything. Before your plant starts to bloom, take time to look for offsets and propagate them.  This way, you will have the same succulent but in a different form after it dies.

However, you must also remember that the time your succulent is prepping to flower is the most critical in its lifecycle.

It needs to be healthy and stress-free to produce the best flowers. Consider giving it a little extra care but don’t overdo it to avoid causing problems.

During blooming, give your plant plenty of sunlight and water. This is the other time that your plant needs the most care. You can even fertilize it if necessary for maximum flower production.

Once the parent plant has dried out completely and become brittle, carefully harvest the seeds and remaining pups.

Detach the pups from the mother plant and plant them into a well-draining potting mix. Water them and let the growth cycle begin again.

Can You Prevent a Monocarpic Succulent from Dying After Blooming?

There is no guarantee that you can keep monocarpic succulents alive after they have bloomed. However, you can take a few steps to increase the chances of survival.

The first step is to gather as many offsets as possible from the plant before it blooms. These offsets will be your only hope after the original plant has died because they will become new plants and replace the parent.

Secondly, make sure your succulent is healthy and stress-free before it blooms. Provide plenty of sunlight and water and fertilize if needed for maximum flower production.

Once the flowers have faded, you can try to keep the parent plant alive by pruning away the wilted flowers. This will help promote new growth.

However, this doesn’t guarantee any chance of keeping the succulent alive.

Can I Replant a Monocarpic Succulent After It Blooms?

Yes, you can replant a monocarpic succulent after it blooms. As mentioned earlier, this is best done by taking offsets from the mother plant and planting them into individual containers with a well-draining potting mix.

Water your succulents and give them plenty of sunlight. Once they are established, you can enjoy your new succulent plants for many years.

Final Thoughts

Monocarpic succulents are a unique and exciting addition to any garden. Although they only bloom once, they can bring beauty to your yard or home.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about taking extra care of them since their lifecycle is predetermined.

So, if you want something different, consider adding a monocarpic succulent to your collection!

Last update on 2023-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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