Have you been nurturing a succulent only to find there is a flower coming out of the apex of the plant? Shocking I know, but don’t fret, there are some things you can do. A death bloom is a condition that affects succulents when they are stressed or not getting enough light. The plant will start to produce flowers, which deplete the plant’s energy reserves. So let’s find out what to do:
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So, what is a death bloom? A death bloom is a single flower stalk that grows vertically from the apex of the plant only once during its lifetime. As the plant produces seeds, it redirects energy away from the roots and leaves towards the seeds, resulting in the eventual death of the plant. Some succulents – such as Sempervivums, Agave and some Aeoniums – die after producing flowers and seeds, while others can do so multiple times without dying.
A death bloom further explained
To put it simply, a death bloom causes the succulent to die because the plant has to redirect its energy towards producing the flower and seeds. This redirection of energy takes away the supply for the succulent’s root system and leaves. This causes the succulent to wilt over time and leads to its inevitable death.
A death bloom only happens once in the lifetime of the succulent – often when it’s at the right maturity to reproduce. Usually, this occurs after 2-3 years and even 80 years+ for certain Agave varieties. If you see your succulent blooms multiple times throughout its life, then this isn’t something you should be too concerned about. In other words, this isn’t a death bloom. Although it is an easy misdiagnosis to make!
How can you tell a death bloom?
A death bloom is usually pretty easy to spot. If you see a single flower stalk growing from the very center of your plant, with no leaves or offshoots, then this is most likely a death bloom.
At the beginning of the process, the flower stalk will start to form buds. These will gradually open up into flowers over the course of a few weeks. Once the flowers have bloomed and started to die back, the seed pods will form in their place. Once this process is in full swing, you will notice your succulents will start to wilt.
Do not assume that the long stalk indicates a lack of light, which can sometimes result in leggy stems. Only the flower stalk elongates during a death bloom. The flowers of most succulents that go through a death bloom are yellow or pink, similar to Agave flowers. Rarely, they can also be orange or nearly white.
Why is my succulent growing a flower?
The main reason for a succulent to go into bloom is stress. This can be from too much or too little water, not enough light, or even insect infestations. It is the plant’s way of saying “I’m in trouble” and is trying to reproduce before it dies.
If your plant is healthy and happy, then it shouldn’t produce new blooms too often. If you see one starting to form, then take a close look at how you’re caring for your succulent. Are you giving it enough light? Is the soil draining well? Are you watering it too much or too little? Once you identify the problem, you can try to correct it.
If you see a bloom stalk or flower buds developing on your plant, gradually add an extra hour of sunlight each day until it is in full sun all day. If you grow your plants indoors, find the brightest window and place them there.
Do succulents die after flowering?
There are succulents that die after they flower and go to seed and others that bloom multiple times before they finally give up the ghost. Those that produce flowers often are called “polycarpic,” and they can flower multiple times over the course of their lifetime.
Some examples of polycarpic succulents include:
- Many Aeoniums, such as Aeonium ‘Zwartkopf’
- Sempervivum (Hen and Chicks)
- Jovibarba heuffelii
Most members of the Crassulaceae family will die after flowering just once, but there are a few exceptions. These include:
- Aeonium arboreum
- Aeonium haworthii
- Aeonium tabuliforme
Do death blooms occur in Echeveria?
Echeveria is a type of succulent that, as mentioned above, belongs to the Crassulaceae family. As they are polycarpic (meaning they flower and produce seeds many times throughout their lifecycle) death blooms don’t occur early on in their lifecycle.
You will know if a death bloom has occurred in your Echeveria because the flower stalk will come out of the very center (or apex) of the plant. In contrast to this, if you can see flower stalks coming out horizontally from the sides of the succulent, you can ease your mind by knowing this is just a blooming period and isn’t a death bloom.
Echeveria produces flowers, but they are not death blooms since they grow numerous flower stalks and their stems emerge from the sides.
Which succulents produce death blooms?
Some common succulents that develop “death blooms” are Sempervivums (houseleeks), those from the Agave genus, some Kalanchoes, and Aeoniums. Here are some others:
- Blue Agave (Agave tequilana)
- Bromeliad ‘Orange’ (Aechmea blanchetiana)
- Century Plant (Agave americana)
- Hens and Chicks or Common Houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum)
- Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe luciae)
- Small Century Plant (Agave parviflora)
- Tree Houseleek (Aeonium hybrids)
- Queen Victoria Agave (Agave victoriae-reginae)
- Yucca Plant (Yucca queretaroensis)
What to do if your succulent is flowering
It’s possible to keep monocarpic plants alive if the flowers are removed before seed development begins or even if flower buds are snipped before they bloom.
If you want to try this, wait until the plant has flowered and then cut the stalk just below the flower. You can then either pot up the plant or place it back in its original position.
If you have a polycarpic succulent that is starting to flower, you can do one of two things:
- Cut off the flower stalk before it blooms – This will encourage the plant to put its energy into growing new leaves and roots instead of flowers and seeds. It may also help the plant live longer overall.
- Allow the flowers to bloom – If you enjoy seeing your succulents in bloom, then let it be! Just be aware that once the flowers have bloomed and died, the plant will start to die off too.
If you have a succulent that is dying after flowering, there is unfortunately not much you can do to save it. You can try the methods above, but it’s likely that the plant has reached the end of its life cycle and will die no matter what you do.
Death blooms, also called “succulent death blooms” or “end-of-life blooms,” are a natural process that occurs in some succulents as they approach the end of their life cycle. So let’s summarise:
- Death bloom is a term for a single flower stalk that only grows vertically from the apex of the plant once during its lifetime.
- The succulent will produce flowers and seeds which use the plant’s energy
- The succulent’s leaves and roots will eventually die
- Some succulents bloom from season to season and these can often be mistaken for a succulent death bloom
- Some people make the mistake of thinking that their succulent is blooming because it’s under stress from lack of light
- Not all succulents die after flowering
- If your succulent is blooming, you can either cut off the flower heads or allow them to naturally bloom
People also ask
Can you propagate a death bloom?
Unfortunately, you cannot propagate a death bloom. Once the plant has flowered and started to die, there is nothing you can do to save it.
Can death blooms be prevented?
There is no surefire way to prevent death blooms from happening, but you can try to prolong the plant’s life by giving it plenty of light and water. You can also remove the flower heads as soon as they appear to prevent the plant from expending its energy on producing seeds.
How do I get my succulents to turn red?
Some succulents, like echeverias, can turn red if they are stressed from lack of water or too much sun. If you want to encourage your succulent to turn red, you can try withholding water for a week or two and then moving it to a sunny spot.
How long do succulents live?
Some succulents are short-lived, but they produce offsets that eventually replace them. A fine example is Chicks and Hens. The primary plant generally only lives for 3-4 years, but it sends out numerous offsets during its lifetime.
Will dead succulents grow back?
Trim the leaf back to below the injured area when it has dried out since cold damaged areas of succulents seldom recover but the entire succulent plant may heal.
Is cinnamon good for succulents?
Cinnamon is sometimes used as a fungicide for plants, but it’s unclear if it’s effective for succulents. Some people swear by it, while others say it does more harm than good. If you want to try using cinnamon on your succulents, make sure to use a very diluted solution and only apply it to the leaves, not the roots.