Sempervivum

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Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

RickR wrote:

I also used to map gardens.  Now I keep a list of the plants I have in each garden as well as a master list, as well as labels (usually hidden) with the plants.  Keeping track of my plants, with provenance and other pertinent notes was the reason for me getting my first computer.  Understanding the rudiments of the Excel program was one of the first things I learned.

Rick, it sounds like you have "covered the bases" using all of the above techniques.  Having digital photo records certainly helps too.  One thing I always try to do, is make two labels (maybe even three) for each plant, one in front and one in back of a plant.

Trond, I also have problems with flocks of noisy NOISY blackbirds, who sometimes have label-pulling parties >:(  So, I try to plunge my labels deep, so just the tip shows, less likely to be pulled out by birds, and I always use two labels.  I know some gardeners who would put in a normal label but then also "bury" a second label just to one side of a plant, always in the same direction relative to the normal viewing of that plant.  The interesting thing about deep "seating" or burying labels, is that they aren't exposed to bright light and pencil labeling remains legible for decades.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Sempervivum 'Bronco' versus 'Brock'.  I think I have both, planted together as shown in my photos above, but I just found both cultivars pictured at Mountain Crest Gardens (they have a good assortment of Semps and Jovibarbas for sale).  Now I'm fairly sure which is which in my little semp patch.

Bronco:
http://mountaincrestgardens.com/popup_image.php?pID=78

Brock:
http://mountaincrestgardens.com/popup_image.php?pID=77

http://mountaincrestgardens.com

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

I believe one day I shall take up hybridizing sempervivums, maybe a fun hobby when I retire.  Only once I tried my hand at hybridizing, here's a photo showing my cross between two species, S. zeleborii x pittonii.  You can see some variation in the rosettes.  Since the seed is as small as dust particles, my seedling flat was perhaps 1000 seedlings or more, the problem is how to handle picking out and growing on so many tiny seedlings.  So, I took the lazy approach, and potted up 3 or 4 big clumps of seedlings, and only the strongest would survive in their fight for space and light.  Not a very scientific approach, but interesting to observe the results.

Why did I pick those two species, well... because they were growing close to each other and flowering at the same time ;D

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

If I could only grow one Sempervivum, it would probably be S. ciliosum var. borisii.  It grows ultra tight and hummocky, and always fresh looking.  In late fall and winter, the low flat-topped rosettes are densely packed, and those ciliate tufts at the end of each leaf make little points of light on the rosettes.  The first photo is taken in mid October, and I think I like it best in its winter guise.  Depending on conditions, spring color can take on rich pink coloration.

The second photo shows the plant in mid June, where the rosettes open up and the silver frosting of cilia catches sunlight to make the rosettes glimmer.  So far as sempervivum blooms go, some are tall and awkward, weirdly interesting, or ugly depending on your take on such things. But with S. ciliosum, the flowers are held in more compact heads and are an appealing chartreuse yellow color.  Since the flowering rosette dies after flowering,  this species fortunately rarely flowers, so no worries about overly abundant flowering to ruin an otherwise fine semp clump.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

A sempervivum planter: color transitions

Hey semp fans, I've had a low bowl shaped plastic container planted with 3 semps for the past 4-5 years, and it sits on the lower step of my deck year round, where I get to view it continuously. The amazing thing about semps, is to watch their foliar color transformation, and rosette transformations through the months.

The 3 plants are:
Sempervivum ciliosum var. borisii - upper left, one of the best ever species.
Jovibarba heuffelii 'Torrid Zone' - upper right, a superb descriptively named Bill Nixon hybrid.
Sempervivum 'Nouveau Pastel' - a 1956 hybrid from Nicholas Moore, one of the most unique, a true semp chameleon.

For the winter, the semps "hunker down" and retreat into a compressed winter mode, showing lots of dried remains of past leaves acting as a "ruff" around each rosette.  In spring they grow out of the winter mode and start expanding, taking on vivid colors.  In Photo 1, the rosettes still show old dead leaves around each rosette.  Just a few days later, with abnormal heat and sun here in New England spring 2010, suddenly the rosettes awaken and start taking on some color and rosette expansion (photo 2).  Photo 3 shows strong coloring and rosette growth, the amazing chameleon S. 'Nouveau Pastel' is a luscious toffee color, and 'Torrid Zone' is... hot torrid red with inviting green centers.  Photo 3a is a side view showing that 'Nouveau Pastel' is one of those semps that forms tall one-sided "reaching" rosettes... 'Torrid Zone' also reaches upwards.  In photo 4 taken the end of July, we arrive at the color apex, with some flowering happening (thank goodness not much though)... 'Torrid Zone' is hotter red than ever after losing the cool green center, and 'Nouveau Pastel' is getting so crowded that it accentuates coffee brown centers.

Some semp species and hybrids put out "chicks" on long stolons, and this can be difficult to deal with.  These three semp/jovs were selected because of their dense clumping habit with chicks close to the parent.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Boland
Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

Great colour contrast Mark!  Semps are such great plants for pots and troughs....I have about 25 selections at the moment.  I poke them here and there anyplace I want a little contrast in colour and form.

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Two superbly grown sempervivums displayed at UK plant shows:

Sempervivum 'Lion King', skillfully planted with natural stones.
Photo by Peter Maguire, SRGC UK member, at the Edinburgh and the Lothians Show 2010
http://www.srgc.org.uk/smf/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=5303.0;attach...

Sempervivum ciliosum var. galicicum, displayed at the London Show 2010, looks like a Rebutia.
http://www.srgc.org.uk/smf/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=5303.0;attach...

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

The second semp looks almost like a Mammilaria!
I grow mine in rock crevices or at the roof (houseleek you know - takløk (roofleek or rather -onion) in Norwegian).

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hoy wrote:

The second semp looks almost like a Mammilaria!

Probably because a good number of the rosettes of S. ciliosum var. galacicum in that photo are on the verge of flowering, so they morph into those odd looking "vertical" rosettes.  That clump might not look so good after that many rosettes die. :(

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Finally found two photos of my semps, back in the year 2001, seen growing in pots woefully too small for long-term, but the intent was to create new garden beds for my 200 semps in the shorter term, but this never happened, most of the plants slowly suffered and dwindled away over the years.  The photos taken in July, show that many take on their brightest colors in midsummer.

I was also made aware of a URL of a German sempervivum nursery web site, where you can see good photos of over 300 semp cultivars, then many more of semp and Jovibarba species.  I use Google translate in my Internet Explorer 8.0 browser, which really helps.

http://www.semper-vivum.de/sempervivum

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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