Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sempervivum arachnoideum

Fig. 1   Sempervivum arachnoideum

One of the many succulents that are proliferating in my backyard is the Sempervivum arachnoideum -commonly called "Hen and Chicks" or "Cobweb Houseleek".  Every year when the temperatures start to warm up, they multiply by sending out runners that look like tentacles from within the overlapping layers of the older leaves. 

I noticed that the rosettes of leaves during the winter months (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2) do not show as much 'cobweb' and are not as tightly arranged as the Sempervivum arachnoideum in the hotter months. This could be an effect of lower light intensity and shorter photoperiod combined with sufficient soil moisture during the cooler months.  The plant tries to expose as much of its leaf area in order to maximize exposure to sunlight. The lose rosettes therefore could be a symptom of stress from insufficient.  On the contrary, under adversely hot conditions, the plant's natural reaction is to prevent moisture loss - and thus closing as much exit points of moisture as possible.

Fig. 2   Sempervivum arachnoideum: loosely-arranged rosettes and insignificant 'cobweb'.

Regardless of their seasonal behavior, Sempervivum arachnoideum in small containers look great.  I intend to grow more of them this way and give as presents to house guests. 


Patty said...

Hi Helen, I have been on a sedum growing spree for a couple of years now. In pots of course. I am trying all the ones that can overwinter here and while that list is short I am quite enamored with them. Their life cycle is interesting because you can actually follow it from beginning to end in a short period of time.

Pura Vida said...

Succulents are so sweet in anything!

Helen Lewis said...

Patty -- I will not be surprised to hear that you have expanded your list beyond sedum. :) Succulent-collecting can be addictive because it is so easy to succeed with them. And just like you said, they are fascinating plants!

Helen Lewis said...

Pura Vida --
You are right to describe succulents as sweet - except for the ones with thorns which I deliberately avoid. Sometimes I cut succulent stems to accent my flower arrangements. While they add a hint of surprise to any combination of flowers and foliage, they also start to root in water. So when the flowers are spent, the succulents are ready to be planted.

GirlSprout said...

Great idea to grow extra semps and give them away to guests. I have a post of yours bookmarked on cloning echeveria in case I ever want to attempt it. :)

Sempervivum said...

Great shots!!!

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