In my collection, I have a variety of sempervivum species, including Sempervivum globiferum. This garden succulent is truly fascinating, and I’d love to share everything I know about it with you.
Sempervivum globiferum is one of the most unique plants in my garden. Commonly known as “Rolling Hen and Chicks,” its name is derived from the plant’s spherical shape.
It’s among the tiniest species within the sempervivum genus. Its leaves are stubby, measuring just about an inch in length. They’re conically shaped with a sharp tip, a distinctive feature of this species.
These leaves are fleshy and store a significant amount of water. Thanks to this water storage, Sempervivum globiferum can thrive in arid soil and endure extended periods of drought.
A mature plant typically spans no more than two inches in diameter, although there are some larger specimens out there.
This plant can be propagated both vegetatively and generatively, which I’ll delve into in the Propagation chapter.
In terms of color, Sempervivum globiferum is primarily green, with hues ranging from a vibrant green to a yellowish or grayish tint. The leaf tips are typically a dark maroon, but some varieties boast bright red tips.
Natural Habitat and Distribution
Sempervivum globiferum is indigenous to Europe, specifically the eastern and central regions.
Regarding its preferred environment, Sempervivum globiferum thrives in sunny, open spaces. In damp areas with fertile soil, it struggles to compete with larger plants and often perishes.
Typically, this plant is found in sandy terrains. It also flourishes on slopes, rocky areas, and other spots where larger plants might find it challenging to grow.
Yet, in cultivated settings, this plant has made its way to nearly every continent. Today, it graces the gardens of enthusiasts worldwide.
In this chapter, I’ll delve into the specifics of how I care for Sempervivum globiferum.
My Sempervivum globiferum plants bask in full sunlight throughout the day and they absolutely thrive in it. They’re completely sun-tolerant. Even the young, small rosettes remain unfazed by direct sunlight.
However, what this plant doesn’t take well to is shade. In complete shade, it will perish. If placed in partial shade, it might become leggy and lose its vibrant color. So, ensure it gets a minimum of 10-12 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Sempervivum globiferum favors a lean, rocky soil with a good amount of sand. When I plant them, I ensure there’s a layer of stones at the base for proper drainage. I blend my soil with sand and pebbles.
It’s crucial to avoid planting in waterlogged soil, as excessive moisture can cause rot. I’ve also observed that overly rich soil can make the rosettes stretch out.
I never find the need to water my Sempervivum globiferum. Its compact rosettes and tiny leaves mean that it retains its water reserves remarkably well, even during intense droughts.
The plant is adept at drawing and storing the water it needs. Even the smaller offsets manage to fend off dehydration.
Given this, I’d advise against watering your Sempervivum globiferum. Overwatering can make the soil too damp, leading to rot.
Diseases and Pests
Throughout my years of cultivating this species, I’ve been fortunate not to face any pest or disease issues. While some other sempervivum species might occasionally suffer from maggots or rot, Sempervivum globiferum seems immune.
That said, it doesn’t mean your plant is invincible. If you do notice any issues, consider using a fungicide or insecticide.
Sempervivum globiferum is impressively resilient, capable of flourishing even in the most nutrient-deprived soils. It can even grow on bare rocks without a nutrient deficit.
Consequently, I never feel the need to fertilize it. Applying fertilizer might cause the plant to grow elongated and lose its aesthetic appeal.
Sempervivum globiferum propagates in a fascinating manner. Young offsets develop within the leaf axils, and once they’re fully grown, they detach from the mother plant. This separation causes the young rosette to roll away, finding a new place to grow.
Additionally, some rosettes sprout alongside the mother plant. Within a year or two, this results in a tight cluster of plants that closely resemble a small, rounded cushion.
Another method of reproduction for Sempervivum globiferum is through seeds. Being monocarpic, the plant blooms only once in its lifetime and then perishes. Typically, it flowers in its third or fourth year.
The rosette elongates into a stolon, reaching a height of 4-6 inches. A cluster of flowers then emerges at the stolon’s peak, usually blooming in the summer.
By autumn, both the stolon and its flowers wither. By this time, the seeds, which are incredibly tiny and dust-like, have matured.
If these flower clusters are preserved, they can be crushed and planted in the spring, leading to a plethora of seedlings. Among these, one might find some truly unique variants.
Sempervivum globiferum is incredibly resilient and thrives even in extreme climates. It’s suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4a to 10b.
Remarkably, it can withstand temperatures as low as -30°F (-34.4°C)! This makes it a viable option for gardens almost anywhere in the world.
- S. globiferum ssp. allionii (Spread in France and Italy, grows compactly, 1 inch in size)
- S. globiferum ssp. globiferum (Spread in center of Europe, less than 1 inch in size, leaf tips dark red)
- S. globiferum ssp. arenarium (Size up to 1 inch, narrow leaves)
- S. globiferum ssp. hirtum
- S. globiferum ssp. lagarinianum
I have several varieties of this species in my collection. Let me introduce you to some of the most captivating ones:
A robust variety that produces numerous offsets. It was cultivated by Theo Germann in 1980. The rosette measures about an inch in diameter, with leaves extending to half an inch.
This variety boasts beautiful green rosettes with pink-tipped leaves. It has a hemispherical shape and a compact size. A creation of A.Smits from 1980.
Characterized by its pointed light green leaves with bright red tips, this variety maintains its vibrant color throughout the year.
A more recent addition, this variety is notably large for a sempervivum globiferum. Its leaf tips are dark red, but come summer, the entire plant takes on a radiant red hue. It was cultivated by Andre Smits in 2004.
Bred in Germany by Volkmar Shara, this variety was named in honor of his friend Yuri from Minsk. It’s especially striking in early autumn when its leaves turn a vivid red, contrasting with the light green base of the rosette. Growing up to 2.5 inches in diameter, it proliferates rapidly, forming dense clusters of rosettes in no time.
In summary, Sempervivum globiferum is a truly captivating and stunning plant that’s sure to bring you immense joy.
This species stands out beautifully when grown as an isolated cluster of rosettes against a backdrop of small stones. Feel free to get creative and pair it with other Sempervivum or Sedum species.
I hope you found my insights valuable. Wishing you all the best!