Do Succulents Flower And What Does It Mean If They Do?

When I first started growing succulents I thought that they were nothing more than leafy plants (albeit beautiful ones) that never flowered. Imagine my amazement when, after years of owning succulents, one of my plants started to flower. The flowers were so spectacular that I started to wonder if they always flowered and if so was there anything I could do to encourage my succulents to flower. I was so surprised with what I found that I decided to write this article. Read on and I’m sure you’ll be just as gobsmacked as me!

Do succulents flower? All succulents can flower but whether or not they do flower will depend on their age as well as their growing conditions. If they don’t have enough sunlight, too much water or are less than five years old they are unlikely to flower.

Why do succulents flower?

You may think that succulent flowers are nothing more than beautiful and extremely decorative but there is, in fact, a reason behind this behavior. Like all living creatures (both flora and fauna) succulents have an instinctive desire to survive and their way of doing this is to reproduce which is why they produce flowers. Just as is the case with all plants (including climbing ivy) succulents aren’t able to travel to other plants in order to reproduce, they have to find another way of doing this which is where flowers come in. These brightly colored, beautiful flowers attract the attention of pollinators (such as bees and butterflies) that then land on them to collect the nectar. While they’re collecting the nectar they’re also unwittingly picking up seeds which they’ll then carry to other flowers, and therefore pollinating them.

Succulents can produce beautiful and colorful flowers

How do you make a succulent flower?

While it’s certainly true to say every succulent is capable of flowering it doesn’t necessarily mean that it actually will but there are things that you can do to at least encourage your plants to sprout beautifully colorful flowers.

It might seem silly to say but maturity is one of the biggest factors in whether or not (and when) a succulent will flower, after all, they flower to reproduce. That doesn’t mean to say that as soon as your plant matures (typically at around 5 or 6 years of age although some varieties of cacti mature at roughly 30 years) it’ll begin flowering but just don’t expect it to do so before then.

If your plant has reached maturity and still isn’t flowering then you need to make sure they feel safe and secure in their environment. Make sure they have enough light (at least 6 hours a day), the soil is well drained and the ambient temperature is relatively consistent. For outdoor plants, this isn’t too difficult to do but it can be harder, although not impossible, for indoor succulents.

TIP: If you’re not able to move your indoor succulents to an area where they get enough natural light then you can always use grow lights to simulate sunlight. They’re relatively cheap and allow you to ’trick’ your plant into thinking the sun is shining. I’ve tried a few grow lights over the years and can recommend these, they’re cheap, fully adjustable, have a timer, and offer a full spectrum of light.

When do succulents flower?

Like most plants, succulents can flower at different times of the year, depending on the variety, although that said the vast majority will do so when the sun is at its most energizing, ie in late spring and early summer. That doesn’t mean to say that they all flower at that time though.

Some succulents, such as certain varieties of jade, kalanchoe, rhipsalis, and hoya are known as winter growers and as such are far more likely to flower in the colder fall and winter months. Euphorbias, crassulas (pictured below), and even some species of mammillarias will start to flower in the dead of winter. Then of course there’s the ever-popular aloe which, with its multitude of varieties, is capable of flowering all year round.

While a lot of plants have a particular ‘flowering window’ it doesn’t mean to say they can flower outside of that window, the conditions they’re kept in will also play a role in when they do actually flower.

Crassulas often flower in winter
Crassulas flower during the winter months

How often do succulents flower?

How often your succulent flowers will depend on whether it’s a perennial or a monocarpic plant. Perennials, if they’re happy and feel safe, will flower roughly once a year (typically at the same time of year) for the entirety of their life but sadly monocarpic plants aren’t so lucky. Meaning single fruit (or single grain) in Greek, monocarpic plants will only ever flower once in their lifetime.

What should you do when your succulent flowers?

When your succulent starts to flower you can leave it alone to do its thing if you want to, but if you want the to flower(s) to last as long as possible then there are a few things that you can do to help it along the way.

Get rid of bugs

While succulents can get bugs at any time of year aphids in particular like the new growth that a flower or bloom stalk provides. This means that you need to keep an eye out for them and get rid of any you see as soon as possible. The best way of doing this is to spray the plant with 60% rubbing alcohol, this will kill the bugs but won’t harm the plant (unless you place it in direct sunlight within a few hours of spraying it).

Increase the amount of light

Light is crucial to all living things and succulents are no different so it’s important to make sure it has enough light. Plants need light for photosynthesis, a process that allows the plant to produce the energy and fuels it needs to grow (and of course, flowering is part of that growth).

Outdoor succulents will start to flower when they have the right amount of light but when your indoor plant starts to flower you need to increase the amount of light it’s getting. That said you should do this gradually, don’t just stick it in the window the second you see a bud appear and then remove it when the flowering stops. Instead, increase the amount of light by 30 to 60 minutes a day until it’s getting at least 6 hours of sunlight (not direct though) each day.

Use fertilizer

Some people don’t like to fertilize their plants, preferring them to flower naturally, but fertilizing them once a month will help the plant to stay healthy and also make sure it has the nutrients it needs. High phosphorus fertilizers are better because they allow the succulent to produce more energy and therefore grow more and produce healthier and more beautiful flowers.

How long do the flowers of succulents last?

There’s no one rule to say how long your succulent should flower for, after all, each species is different but the care you give it will also play a role in how long the flowers last. That said though most succulents will have their flowers for a few weeks but, with the right conditions (see above), the flowers can last for months.

What happens after a succulent has flowered?

What happens after your succulent has flowered will depend on what type of plant it is. If it’s a monocarpic plant then I’m afraid it will die after it’s flowered, although in most cases it will have produced pups first so you’ll be able to grow more plants from the original ‘mother’ plant. This is why the flowers are often referred to as death blooms or blooms of death. You can often tell if a plant is monocarpic or not by where the flowers comes from. If the bloom stalk (ie the flower) comes from the middle of the plant the the plant is probably moncarpic. A lot of aeoniums, agaves and sempervivums are monocarpic.

Monocarpic succulents will only flower once in their lifetime
Monocarpic succulents will unfortunately die after they’ve flowered

Perennial plants on the other hand will lose their flowers after a few weeks or months but the plant will remain healthy and fully alive. If you want you can collect the flowers after they’ve died (or remove them when they’re start fading) and put them in a paper bag until they’re completely dry. Once they’ve dried out you’ll have loads of tiny seeds that you can create new plants from.

Should you deadhead a succulent after it’s flowered?

Once the flowers begin to die they can become rather unsightly so many people decide to cut them off before they die completely. Doing this won’t harm the plant in any way at all and will allow it to redirect its energy back to producing new leaves.

The best way of deadheading the plant is by using a sharp knife or pruning shears and cutting it as close to the base of the plant as possible, being careful to not damage the leaves.

Echeverias produce stunning 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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