My favorite hen is dying. Why?

dragonstoneJune 3, 2004

You can see a picture of my hen here. Basically, This is my biggest hen I've had since last year and I put it in a frying pan. It grew several other chicks. I was going to leave it in the pan so that it could mature without worrying about being too crowded.

Well, as you can see from the picture, when I went to do my weekly watering, it looks as if it is dying. I tugged on a leaf and it came free without any struggling whatsoever. Is there a way to save it or am I watering too much or what? It never seemed to have a problem with my weekly waterings before.

It has never flowered nor does it appear that it wanted to flower.

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Usually they die too much water..however yours great.
Where do you keep them, and how long have you growing them,
I am new to this I love them I hhope they will thrive.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 5:40PM
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xanadu(8/9 N.CA)

A little more information would help but from what I can tell, your semp is rotting--too much water or too much heat can make this happen. The soil in your picture looks soggy. Do you really have the sempervivum in a frying pan? Have you drilled drainage holes? Unless you are very very careful with your watering, keeping any succulent in a pot without drainage holes is an invitation for rotting from too much water. It's even worse when it warms up, which may be why you are having a problem now where you haven't had one before. Here I can't water at all during July and August due to the heat. Try putting the chicks in a very free draining, sandy, rocky mix in a pot with big drainage holes and perhaps the chicks will survive. My semps have to be in shade during the summer because the pots heat up too much in our 100+F degree heat.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 11:54PM
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Doris - I have some in a frying pan and this year, I just started a small bed for more of them. I'm fairly new at this and just started a year ago so I don't have a real big collection of them just yet. :)

xanadu - Yes, I really do keep them in a frying pan. You can see a picture of its entirety here that I just took last night. I drilled drainage holes into the bottom of the pan before I used it. I thought it would be a creative container. The reason it is soggy is because I had just watered it after it had been dry for an entire week. I give it weekly waterings.

This is its second summer. This picture was taken July 18, 2003 so I'm really baffled why its happening now. Could it be rust inside the pan? Can it harm the hen and chicks?

I'm really tempted to plant them in the ground as you have suggested. The pan doesn't get hot except for the handle. It doesn't rain often here. Last summer rained almost on a daily basis and still it survived through such a wet summer, something must be going on this time around. My big hen wouldn't just up-and-die for no reason unless I have a variety that just dies instead of blooming. I'm really partial to this hen because it's the biggest I've ever had.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 8:25AM
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xanadu(8/9 N.CA)

I have two new varieties of sempervivum that started to rot when the weather turned hot (ha, and they think it's hot now. Wait for a month when it will be 105+ for weeks on end). The first sign is the base of the leaves turning translucent, sometimes starting in the middle of the plant, sometimes starting with the outside leaves. The moment I noticed I pulled them out of their pots and set them in the shade, unplanted. I may have saved them. Though many of the leaves are dead the centers still seem firm. I will replant them in the shade if they survive. I have over 40 varieties of semps and every year a few of my new purchases do this--some semps seem unable to cope with the extremes of my area. Yours, of course, was quite happy last year so I'm not sure what's going on. What's happening now, does it still seem to be dying?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2004 at 2:21AM
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How long have you been collecting semps?

I had to look it over because some of the chicks were dying. I thought only one chick bit it but I believe two or three more were getting the same stuff. They were right next to the hen so I decided to separate everything and dispose of the ones that got sick.

I don't know what it is. I want to say that it was a fungus or something. Some of the leaves got extremely 'hairy' or 'fuzzy' with this grey fungus.

This is the final result. Kinda sad really, I really liked the big hen. I had expected to see her bloom when she got too old and everything.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2004 at 9:36AM
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xanadu(8/9 N.CA)

Those you still have look healthy. It's so sad about the big one. Funny how fond we get of our plants.

I used to grow semps years ago when I lived in Zone 6. They thrived there. In 2001 we moved here and then I found Squaw Mountain and bought one of their collections: over 40 semps. Great semps in lovely condition--that summer I lost half of them to rot and heat. I was devastated and it took me a while to recover and start trying to figure out the different growing conditions here. I'm still working on it, learning more each year. This year I'm taking a chance by trying some in sun in the ground because I've run out of shady ground areas. I still have some in pots in shade. Each year I still lose one or two but the varieties I have now are mostly adapted to my climate. I've been covering those in pots (which is most of them) during the winter due to the 50-70 inches of rain but I now have enough to experiment and I'll leave some of them uncovered to see what happens.

I love semps. Mareas hosted a wonderful semp swap this spring. I hope she does it again next year.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 1:02PM
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I believe from my small collection, I probably have 3 or 4 different varieties.

I didn't think it'd get so hot in northern california but I suppose they weren't kidding when they said it was very sunny there. I bet "black magic" elephant ear can get seriously black when planted there.

Out of your collection, is there one of them that you consider the 'cherry' of the collection?

I'm also curious if you've done any 'creative containers'? I'm trying to find a big piece of driftwood that would be perfect to grow the semps in.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 1:26PM
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xanadu(8/9 N.CA)

Oooh, driftwood, I would love to find one. I saw a beautiful planting of succulents in a long cupped piece of driftwood years ago--just beautiful. A tree stump or a log will have to suffice, though I still haven't found a suitable one. I was too busy trying to keep them alive to get creative but this year I just planted a woven basket and a low very large pot. Nothing unusual but it's nice that my semps are doing better.

I don't really have a favorite, I love the variety. Almost all have something unique and delightful about them, and some that I previously thought were nondescript showed lovely color changes this spring for the first time. If snowdrop enthusiasts can discern tiny differences between varieties, how much easier we have it. The leaves differ in shape, texture, color, number and size. I have some that are clones but look quite different due to different growing conditions.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2004 at 8:23PM
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Hmm, More seems to be dying. So far, I had to throw out another hen/chick.

Also, my oldest one (the purple-ish hen) is also showing signs of rotting away as well.

That leaves me with two hen/chicks so far that have no signs yet.

I don't know what caused this sudden rash of deaths and it's rather upsetting. All I can keep thinking is that "Good thing I took two chicks out of there this spring to plant in the bed."

I have yet to find a driftwood. What inspired me was this site: Black Cat Nursery. It's the fourth picture down and it's pretty cool.

Have you collected any via seed? I heard that often times, they never look like their parents.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2004 at 7:27PM
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lggano(z4 MT)

I, too, lost most of my sempervivums this year. They were eaten by geasshoppers! Luckily, I had shared them with several friends in widely different places and I now have pieces of them to try again. I also insure against loss by planting them in more than one type of location. I live in rural Montana in zone 3/4 with silty soil ie not real well draining. I often start middle sized chicks by covering the long stem with a rock. If you don't have enough stem to do this, pin the chick down with a u-shaped wire. I love texture, and hens and chicks are terrific for that. Laurie

    Bookmark   June 13, 2004 at 11:22AM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

I inherited a cast-iron dutch oven full of H&C's when we moved into our new home in August last year tucked beneath 4 feet of weeds!...they looked very pittiful and sick...I seperated them up and put them immediatley in the rock garden I'd been creating....I didn't think they would make it but by October they perked up. This spring everyone of them produced tons of chicks! They are SOOOOO gorgeous, light green with very vivid dark red tips..since these I've gone completely succulent crazed and what them all! I've added 4 different varieties of sedum' of which I brought with me from cuttings has more than tripled in size (3 patches of it) completely engulfed some of my H&C at the front boarder so I removed and gave away. Still trying to find the name of this sure covers ground nice green and turns purple in late fall thru the winter and early spring..has tons of flower buds right now and I think they will be yellow.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 12:17AM
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Try putting a small layer of torpedo sand or some other type of crushed rock on top of the soil so your semps aren't laying directly on the soil. Are you using regular soil or more of a cactus type mix? Semps don't need much soil to thrive and really prefer a well drained mix. The semps that look the best in my cactus garden are those that are growing into the side wall rather than on top. Probably because water doesn't collect in the crown. They don't like being soggy in cold, wet weather.

Another problem may be depth. Mine all have long tap roots. Perhaps your pan is just too shallow for them.



    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 2:41PM
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The original stuff was a combination of potting soil and sand. I remember reading from a website on 'how to make your own cactus soil' so it was really baffling on why my hen and chicks would complain -now- when they were completely content for over a year now.

I removed all the hen and chicks from the pan a few days ago, cleaned most of the soil off from the bottom and replanted them in the hen and chick bed.

One thing I noticed... The soil is turning green in the pan. The old soil I had was turning green and this new potting soil is doing the same. I won't be using the pan because I don't know what's causing it.

Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2004 at 5:35AM
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Hens `n chicks are succulents, not cactus, so try getting info on succulents. treating them like cactus may be your problem

    Bookmark   July 11, 2004 at 2:36PM
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