What are Monocarpic Succulents?

Seeing your flowering succulents bloom is exciting. Succulents produce bright, beautiful blooms in many colors like red, white, yellow, pink and purple. When you start to see flowers stalks shooting up from your succulent, it’s hard not to smile and wait impatiently for it to bloom!

But sometimes, right after that big beautiful display of flowers, succulents turn black and die. If this has ever happened to you, don’t worry—it’s completely normal. Some succulents are monocarpic, which means they die right after they flower.

There are things you can do to delay your plant’s blooms, but eventually, all monocarpic plants flower and die. Today we’re going to teach you all about this natural phenomenon and give you some tips that will keep your plant baby healthy for as long as possible.

Definition of Monocarpic

Like we mentioned above, monocarpic plants are ones that die shortly after flowering or producing fruit. In Greek, “mono” means single and “karpos” means fruit, so it makes sense that plants that only flower or fruit once are called monocarpic. Plants that flower again and again over the course of their life cycle are called polycarpic plants, meaning “many fruits” in Greek.

Monocarpic succulents die because flowering takes up all of the energy that they have. These plants divert all of their resources to producing flowers because they contain seeds that will create brand new plants. Just like most living things, a succulent’s goal is to reproduce, so that’s why it devotes so much energy to producing flowers and seeds.

After monocarpic succulents sprout flowers, they can’t sustain themselves anymore because they have no nutrients or energy left over. Sadly, they start to turn black and die.

Many monocarpic succulents, like Hens and Chicks, live several years before they flower, while some succulents like the Century Plant take decades to flower. So don’t worry—you’ll get plenty of time with your succulent before it dies.

Types of Monocarpic Succulents

Agave, Sempervivum, and Kalanchoe plants are the three main types of monocarpic succulents. All Sempervivums are monocarpic, but not all varieties of Kalanchoe and Agave plants are. You’ll have to look up which species of succulent you have to determine whether or not it’s monocarpic.

(Comment below if you’d like Succulent City to make a database of monocarpic succulents for you).

Some Aeoniums and varieties of Yucca, like the Joshua Tree, are considered to be monocarpic as well even though they don’t die right after flowering.

I know what you’re thinking… aren’t all monocarpic plants supposed to die right after flowering? How can you call a plant monocarpic if it doesn’t die?!

Well, these plants do die, in a sense. Individual branches on these plants flower one at a time and then die, but it doesn’t kill the whole plant. These plants still have many other branches that continue to grow and thrive.

So, some monocarpic succulents don’t die after all. But is there anything you can do to keep the ones that do, like Hens and Chicks, from dying?

Can I Stop My Monocarpic Succulents from Dying?

The answer is… maybe.

Some gardeners have been able to stop their monocarpic succulents from dying but the success rate is not as probable as succulent lovers might love to have.

If you take good care of your succulents, a lot of them won’t flower as quickly. Succulents may flower early when they’re under stress due to lack of water or sunlight. They do this in the hopes that their seeds will end up somewhere with better growing conditions. So make sure that you give your plant plenty of bright sunlight and enough water.

You can try to cheat nature and keep your succulent alive even longer by cutting the flower stalk down as soon as you see it. This works best with Kalanchoe plants, which have flower stalks that are easy to cut off, but you can also cut the blooms out of Sempervivums. (Here’s a list of gardening tools that can help you accomplish this).

When Sempervivums start to bloom, the leaves in the center of the rosette close up and the rosette tilts upwards. Eventually, the center of the rosette will grow into a tall plant stem that can get to be a few inches to a foot tall. As soon as you see your Hens and Chicks plant begin to tilt upwards, you need to cut out its central leaves if you hope to save it.

Monocarpic succulent plant succulent city
@st3jewellery

Grab a garden knife and use it to separate the tight, tilted leaves in the center of the rosette from the rest of the leaves. Make sure you remove everything and get a nice clean cut. Watch your Hens and Chicks for new growth in the coming weeks. If you see new offsets forming in the center of the rosette, then the procedure was a success!

We’ve never tried this method, but we can’t imagine that it has a high success rate. Your succulent may try to flower again, so one procedure may not be enough to keep it alive. Cutting out so many leaves will also change the way your plant looks. New offsets will form in the center, which can make your plant look a little wonky. We still think this method is worth trying, though. We’d rather have an imperfectly shaped plant than no plant at all!

If you’d rather sit back and let nature take its course, that’s great too! Enjoy the beautiful blooms that your succulent will produce over the coming weeks, and try to harvest the seeds to grow more plants later. If you take care of the offsets that your plant produced during its lifetime, that bare spot in your garden will be filled in no time!


We hope that this post has shed some light on this rather confusing topic! If you’ve just discovered that your succulent is monocarpic, or figured out the reason why one of your plants randomly died on you a few years ago, let us know in the comments below. Happy planting!

Loved learning about this succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complementary guide. 

  • The site is wonderful there is so much to help me with my plants all types. I spent five hours just reading this morning.Later today I am going t,o make soil and start working with some new, some old plants.Thanks so much.

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