How to Grow Jovibarba heuffelii
Cultivation of Rare Hardy Succulents
Jovibarba heuffelii are the odd plant out – related to Sempervivum and
the many other Jovibarba species, there is enough difference to warrant a
more detailed description and information on how to grow Jovibarba
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The way this species grows is unique among all the Jovibarba species.
Instead of forming chicks, or propagules that can be removed for
propagation, Jovibarba heuffelii split at the crown of each rosette,
resulting in a clustering effect as each one splits over successive
seasons into a colony.
Every year, the mature rosettes can split into two, five or more
Propagation of the Jovibarba heuffelii has to be done
surgically to produce more identical clones - if left to their own devices, the crown splits into more new plants every year, creating a mounding cluster of lush color and texture.
This fact explains why these plants are so rare and expensive to buy.
How to grow more Jovibarba heuffelii
Surgically by division...
Digging up the plant is the easy part...
To start propagating, a sharp blade, knife or scalpel is essential.
Dig up the clump to be split, and remove most of the soil from the roots.
Each crown will have a long fairly thick caudex, and one to
several fleshy taproots, and many smaller root hairs, so determine where
you can cut so that each new piece has at least part of the larger
roots and several smaller ones.
Carefully cut down between the crowns.
...will produce three or four or even more new plants
It’s best to simply start the cut with the blade then tear it carefully the rest of the way to separate the crowns. The torn surface will heal faster than a cut surface.
The texture of the roots is similar to a wilted carrot and fairly soft so it’s easy to pull apart.
Now comes the counter intuitive part – to prevent rot from
setting in, each piece must dry considerably so that the cut surfaces
If this isn’t done, the plant pieces may still root, but run the risk of simply rotting in contact with the soil.
Allow the cut surfaces to dry for at least a day or so, until you
can see signs of healing, then plant the new plants into a well drained
porous soil mix.
I use Sunshine Mix #4, but use whatever is available – if you
have access to small gravel or chicken grit, add some to your mix, or
pumice, small grade lava rock or turface (sometimes called oil dry,
turface is a clay product which is fired to produce small pellets.)
...or from seed
Jovibarba heuffelii can also be seed propagated, but this will result
in a hybridized mixture of genetically different plants, possibly
showing some traits from the parent plants, or sometimes surprise
All named varieties start this way, sometimes as accidental
crosses, others as scientific experiments to produce superior types of
Once the mature rosettes reach a certain size in their second or
third year some will be triggered to start blooming. The center of the
rosette starts to cone, and a flower stalk elongates over several weeks,
until finally blooming with pale yellow or cream flowers.
Successive flowers open over the next two months, attracting many pollinators to transfer the pollen from flower to flower.
Eventually, the papery petals will brown, leaving the seed capsules.
Cut them off and put them into a paper bag to allow them to
finish drying. The seeds will be released from the pods and be caught
in the bag. Store these over the winter in a dry place.
In the spring, sow the dust like seeds in shallow trenches in an
open flat filled with sterile soilless mix such as Sunshine Mix #4 or
Pro Mix, don’t cover the seed and mist lightly until they germinate. An alternate method to try is winter sowing, with nature doing most of the work.
A dome or clear cover can help keep the air around the
germinating seeds humid – dump off any condensation from the inside of
the cover as the large droplets that form can induce rotting in the
seedlings. Take the cover off in stages: one week after most of the
seeds have germinated, take the cover off for a few hours each day, then
a week later take it off all day, then off entirely.
This gradual change in humidity will 'harden off' the seedlings
until they can face the harsh world outside. A similar change into
brighter light will encourage robust hardy growth, as will a reduction
Jovibarba heuffelii seedlings starting to show their true colours
The seedlings are tiny and may take several months to attain a size big enough to transplant into separate pots.
As the fall arrives, you’ll be able to note the changes that they go through and see the many forms and colours start to show.
Now you know how to grow Jovibarba heuffelii, what on earth are you going to do with all those gorgeous huffies? Click on the picture and buy the Xeriscaping with Succulents E-Book:
How to grow Jovibarba Species
Rare Hardy Succulents