Do Succulents Die After Flowering And Can You Stop It Happening?

Recently one of my hens and chicks started to produce the most beautiful flower stalk, but while I knew what it meant a lot of my friends looked perplexed when I told them the plant was going to die. To be honest I’m not sure if they were more shocked by me telling them that or by the fact that I wasn’t bothered! The thing they didn’t realize was that, not only is this normal for some succulents, but it’s actually a good thing. 

Some succulents are classed as monocarpic which means they only flower once and then die shortly after. Before producing a beautiful flower stalk (sometimes called a death bloom) they will often create lots of offshoots (known as pups) which will live on after the mother plant has died.

If you’re new to succulents it can be worrying if your new plant has started to flower, especially if you’ve googled whether or not it’ll die after flowering. Don’t worry though, just because your succulent is flowering it doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to die. And even if it does it’s not necessarily a bad thing and certainly won’t be in vain.

Do succulents die after flowering?

Not all succulents flower but while many of them do (or at least have the ability to do so) it doesn’t automatically mean your plant will die if it starts to flower. In fact, the vast majority of succulents are actually polycarpic which means they’ll flower multiple times in their life.

Monocarpic (which comes from the Greek words for single (mono) and fruit (karpos)) succulents, on the other hand, will only flower once in their lifetime, dying shortly after. That said though they do produce pups (or offshoots) before they die so while the parent plant may die its offspring will continue to grow.

It’s also worth pointing out that while monocarpic plants do die after they’ve flower they generally won’t do this until they’re at least a few years old. There are some succulents, especially some agaves, that don’t flower until they’re around twenty years old, with some living for over eighty years before eventually flowering.

Some succulents will die after they've flowered

Do succulents grow back after they’ve flowered?

The simple answer to this is no, monocarpic succulents don’t grow back after they’ve died but I say the simple answer because it’s slightly more complicated than that.

If you leave the succulent to flower naturally and then remove the stalk after it’s died the pups will continue to grow long after the main part of the plant has died. This can give the impression that the plant has miraculously come back to life after it died.

How can I tell if my succulent has a death bloom?

Death blooms grow from the centre of the plant
Death blooms grow from the center

While a lot of succulents can produce flowers these are more likely to grow from the sides of the plant and have multiple stalks. Death blooms, on the other hand, tend to either grow from the center of the plant (typically from the middle of the rosette or branch, like in the photo). Some death blooms will also produce a flower at the top while others produce a kind of flower cone.

We all know that if a succulent isn’t getting enough light it can start to stretch and become ‘leggy’ but the main difference between these and death blooms is that leggy succulents will normally have more than one stretched stalk. Monocarpic succulents on the other hand only produce one stalk that has a flower at the end of it.

Why do succulents die after flowering?

It might seem counterintuitive for a plant to die after flowering but there is actually a good reason for this and when you consider that plants flower in order to reproduce it’s easy to understand why.

After a monocarpic succulent has bloomed the flower will start to dry out and produce seeds that will ultimately disperse and go on to produce further succulents. Of course, that doesn’t explain why it dies after, that is until you realize what happens to the dead plant. While we would probably remove the dead stalk, left to its own devices the dead plant will start to decompose. A process that releases nutrients into the soil that will help new seeds (and pups) grow into healthy plants.

Can you stop a succulent flowering?

Sadly death blooms are natural and part of a monocarpic succulent’s lifecycle and as such there’s nothing you can do to prevent the plant from eventually dying. Instead, it’s best to enjoy the beautiful flower and let nature take its course. Don’t worry though you can still save the rest of the plant.

Some people suggest cutting the flower stalk before it has a chance to bloom so that the energy is directed back to the plant but, while this may work temporarily, it can’t stop the inevitable and will, in some cases, help to speed up the plant’s demise. The reason for this is that the plant is so keen to reproduce so will try to produce a new flower almost immediately. This time though the plant won’t have as much energy so could die sooner.

Once a succulent starts to produce a death bloom you shouldn't try and stop it
You shouldn’t try to stop a succulent flowering

What should I do after my succulent has flowered?

Some people remove the stalk as soon as it stops flowering but it’s better to wait until it’s at least started to dry out, otherwise, you run the risk of harming the pups as the whole plant can sometimes die.

After the flower has stopped blooming it will begin to shrivel up and dry out which is when you can collect the seeds if there are any. It’s also at this stage that you can remove the stalk from the rest of the plant, although be careful to do this as close to the base of the plant as possible.

While you can obviously plant the seeds you’ve collected from the dying stalk, you won’t be able to propagate the stalk itself. Instead, it’s better to either put it on the compost heap or throw it away if you don’t have one.

How do I tell if a succulent will die after flowering?

While it’s only monocarpic plants that die after flowering there’s no one thing to look out for when trying to find out if this will happen to your plant. Instead, it’s better to do your research to find out which species (and sometimes more specifically which varieties) are monocarpic. That said though there are some species of succulents that are always monocarpic

If you’re worried about wasting your money buying a plant that you know will die don’t worry, even if the plant dies soon after you’ve bought it, the pups (and seeds) will continue to live on long after the parent plant has died.

What succulents die after flowering?

Most succulents are polycarpic which means they’ll flower multiple times in their lifetime but the Sempervivum will always die after it’s flowered, regardless of the variety. There are also a few succulents that have varieties that are also monocarpic. The most common of these are:

  • Aeonium
  • Agave
  • Crassula
  • Echeveria
  • Orostachys
  • Sedum
  • Sempervivum
Some varieties of Sedum are monocarpic
Some varieties of Sedum are monocarpic and produce death blooms

Take home message

It might seem like a bad idea to have a plant that dies as soon as it’s flowered but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can actually be beneficial because, while you might lose the parent plant, you will get lots of baby plants that can live on for many years before they flower themselves. In that time those baby plants will go on to produce more plants themselves.

Not all flowering is bad: What does it mean when a succulent flowers?

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did I’d be grateful if you could share it please as it would really help me.

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