Have you heard that succulents die after blooming and want to know if it is true? Maybe your succulent has just bloomed and you want to know what happens next?
Keep reading to find out everything there is to know about succulent death bloom, including what it is, what succulents it affects, and what it means for your plants!
What are monocarpic plants? Monocarpic plant species are those that flower once and then wither and die.
It isn’t just succulents that can be monocarpic. Plants like tomatoes, cabbages, and sunflowers are all part of the monocarpic family. Not all succulents are monocarpic.
Although these plants will wither after blooming, it does not mean they have a short lifespan! Many of them will live for several years or decades before they bloom and die.
The term monocarpic derives from two Greek words. Mono, meaning single, and karpos, meaning fruit. These definitions are used to determine that the plants’ flower produces seeds.
Once the plant has flowered, its purpose in life is completed, and it dies out.
Although death can seem final, this is not the case for monocarpic plants!
While the plant might die after flowering, it is likely to have produced lots of baby plants (offsets) or seeds that will continue to grow.
Succulent Death Bloom: What Is It?
When a succulent plant flowers and dies, it is referred to as succulent death bloom. But a more accurate way to look at this is as the process of seed production.
This happens when monocarpic succulents undergo hormonal changes. These changes redirect the plant from focusing on survival to seed production.
The plant produces flowers and seeds, as a result, before withering and dying.
Most monocarpic succulents will produce a single bloom stalk that shoots up from the center of the plant.
This can be confused with etiolation, where the stem elongates as a side effect of light deprivation. This is also known as legginess.
When your succulent experiences succulent death bloom, only the flower stalk elongates.
Below is a closeup image of a flower stalk emerging from the center of a Foxtail Agave (agave attenuata).
And this is what the whole plant looks like in full bloom.
The bloom will grow vertically and produce small blooms. After they bloom, the succulent can wither away.
This is the same plant a couple of months later.
The central flower stalk was withering and has been cut off. The once-healthy plant is now yellowing, and the leaves are drooping and dying. However, you can see new baby plants that have grown in the bottom center and to the right. So while the mother plant may die off after blooming, the offsets (baby plants) continue on.
When Do Succulents Die After A Death Bloom?
When your succulent will die after a death bloom varies on two factors:
- The type of monocarpic succulent you have
- How long your succulent plant blooms for
Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for your succulent to die after a death bloom appears.
Do All Succulents Die After Blooming?
No, not all succulents will die after flowering. Succulent death bloom only happens to monocarpic succulents. Plants that do not produce seeds this way will not die after flowering.
Most flowering succulents can produce and bloom multiple flowers every year without dying.
But you can expect the flower stalk to wilt after they bloom. When this happens, you can prune the dead stalks from your plant.
These plants that don’t die after blooming are called polycarpic, poly meaning many. These plants can bloom many times before dying.
If you are unsure if your plant will die after it blooms, there is an easy way to tell! You just need to know what type of succulent you have.
Most monocarpic succulents will live for a long time.
The succulent death bloom is caused by the plant completing its life cycle rather than a problem with your plant.
What Does A Succulent Death Bloom Look Like?
You can spot a succulent death bloom easily. The monocarpic succulent will grow a long flowering stalk from the center or apex of the plant.
The length of this stalk varies depending on the type of succulent you have.
Rosettes with death blooms will have stalks between 7 – 12 inches (17 – 30cm) long.
Larger species, like Agave americana, can grow death bloom stalks up to 30 feet (9m) tall!
The flowers themselves are often warm colors; pinks, oranges, and yellows. There are some rare cases too, where the flowers will be light and bright, almost appearing white.
Some succulents will grow flowers in between their leaves. This growth is like a cone-shaped pattern until the stalk slenders down and reaches the top.
This can change the entire look of the plant and can be an exciting thing to witness if you have never seen it before!
Which Succulents Are Monocarpic?
This is by no means a complete list but details some of the more common household succulents.
Most rosette-type agaves are monocarpic, such as Agave attenuata (Fox Tail Agave), Agave Tequilana (Blue Agave), and Agave Americana (America Century Plant).
Most aeoniums are monocarpic; however, with branching aeoniums, it is often only the branch that has flowered that dies off and the rest of the plant lives on.
Most Kalanchoe that grow leaves off a single stem are monocarpic. They will often produce offsets before blooming which you can replant. Monocarpic Kalanchoe include Kalanchoe luciae (Flapjacks or Paddle Plant), Kalanchoe delagoensis, Mother of Millions and Kalanchoe daigremontiana, Mother of Thousands.
Fortunately, the popular flowering Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy) is not a monocarpic plant.
Kalanchoe delagoensis – Mother of Millions
Known as the Chinese Dunce Cap plant. Orostachys is monocarpic.
Most peperomia are monocarpic.
All sempervivum are monocarpic. However, they will usually produce many ‘chicks’ or offsets before blooming.
All sinocrassula are monocarpic.
Can A Succulent Death Bloom Be Avoided?
Yes, there is a way to stop a succulent death bloom. However, it is not a good idea to do so, as it can have repercussions for your plant.
To stop a succulent death bloom, you need to weaken the growth pattern of the plant to stop it from flowering and reproducing.
I have tried a few different ways to prevent succulent death bloom, including cutting the bloom stalk.
This did not work, as the succulent produced pups where I cut the flowering stem. After this attempt, the succulent still died, unfortunately.
While there might be other ways you can slow the growth of a plant down, these aren’t methods I have tried. I did not want to cause any problems for my plant or shorten its lifespan.
Attempting to prevent the succulent death bloom is not something I recommend. You don’t want to cause distress to your plant or potentially harm it.
It’s no secret that it’s sad when a plant dies, especially if you have dedicated time and energy to caring for it. The last thing you want to see is it dying.
However, you should not think of your succulent dying as a bad or sad thing. It is a sign that your succulent has thrived while you cared for it.
The plant has thrived so much it has decided to multiply! The death after it blooms is a sign that life continues for your succulent via new seeds and plants.
While it is the end of the road for this succulent, more are ready to take its place.
Your succulent dying after flowering is the end of its life cycle. It is an achievement to do this, as there are lots of monocarpic succulents that will wither and die before they get the chance to flower!
Getting your succulent to this stage is something to be celebrated.