Monocarpic Succulent Death Bloom: The Ultimate Guide (2024 Update)

Aeonium canariense monocarpic succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
Huge conical death bloom one of my aeonium grew this spring.

Monocarpic succulents are a unique and fascinating category of plants known for their singular blooming event before dying, often referred to as the “death bloom.” This characteristic sets them apart in the diverse world of succulents, making them a popular choice for gardeners and succulent enthusiasts alike. Understanding their life cycle, care requirements, and types can help you cultivate these intriguing plants successfully.

What Are Monocarpic Succulents?

Monocarpic succulents are plants that flower once and then die, a process often termed the “death bloom.” The term “monocarpic” comes from Greek, where “mono” means single and “carpic” refers to fruit. After their single flowering event, these succulents produce seeds and then complete their life cycle.

Aeonium flowers monocarpic succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
Aeonium ‘sunburst’ death bloom from spring 2023.
Flower buds aeonium monocarpic succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
Aeonium just about to flower.

Life Cycle of Monocarpic Succulents

Germination and Growth

Monocarpic succulents start their life cycle as seeds. Once germinated, they grow into mature plants, storing energy for their eventual flowering.

Role of the Apical Meristem

The apical meristem is the growth region found at the tips of roots and shoots. In monocarpic succulents, the apical meristem plays a crucial role by directing growth and development. During the plant’s vegetative phase, the apical meristem promotes leaf and stem growth. As the plant prepares to flower, the meristem switches from vegetative to reproductive growth, leading to the development of the flower spike.

Beginning of aeonium nobilis monocarpic succulent death bloom edited monocarpic
Aeonium nobilis producing flower buds from the apical meristem.
Aeonium canariense succulent death bloom monocarpic
Huge bush of aeonium with a few of the heads starting to elongate and bloom.

Flowering Phase

The flowering phase, or “death bloom,” is the most critical stage. Monocarpic succulents produce beautiful and often large flowers, attracting pollinators and ensuring the production of seeds.

Start of aeonium succulent death bloom edited monocarpic
When my aeonium start growing smaller leaves in a more compact pattern i know a huge death bloom is in the making.

Seed Production

After pollination, the plant produces seeds, ensuring the continuation of its species. This phase marks the beginning of the end for the individual plant.

Aeonium decorum monocarpic succulent death bloom monocarpic
Aeonium decorum giving it’s last hurrah.

Death and Regeneration

Once seed production is complete, the plant dies. However, the seeds left behind can germinate and start the cycle anew.

Sunburst aeonium monocarpic succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
Succulents are so dramatic when they’re growing a death bloom.

Agave are monocarpic, but the species above takes ages to flower.

Identifying Monocarpic Succulents

Identifying monocarpic succulents can be a bit challenging, but there are some key characteristics to look for:

Single Flower Spike

Monocarpic succulents typically produce a single, large flower spike. This spike often grows rapidly and can be quite dramatic in appearance.

Aeonium haworthii bush monocarpic succulent death bloom monocarpic
When most of the heads on a large aeonium bush are blooming at the same time, i’ll think about what i’m going to replace that spot with. Once they all bloom and die, the remaining heads won’t look great.

Rosette Growth Form

Many monocarpic succulents, such as Aeoniums and Sempervivums, have a rosette growth form. This means their leaves grow in a circular pattern, radiating from a central point.

Beginning of aeonium monocarpic succulent death bloom monocarpic

Large, Showy Flowers

The flowers of monocarpic succulents are usually large and showy, designed to attract pollinators. These blooms are often the most striking feature of the plant.

Agave attenuata foxtail monocarpic succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
‘Foxtail Agave’
Tiny foxtail agave attenuata pups are easy to pluck from the main stem rotated monocarpic
These are pups that grow around the stem of an agave attenuata when it is blooming. They are already forming roots and are super easy to pluck off.

Offsets or “Pups”

Some monocarpic succulents produce offsets, or “pups,” which are smaller plants that grow from the base of the mother plant. These offsets can be used to propagate new plants.

Century plant currently blooming may 2023 monocarpic
May 2023 at the san diego zoo safari park parking lot – century plant (agave) shooting up a bloom stalk.

Types of Monocarpic Succulents


Agaves are well-known monocarpic succulents that can live for several years before flowering in a dramatic “death bloom.” They produce a tall, impressive flower spike.

Agave blooming on africa tram at safari park monocarpic
May 2023 – here’s another century plant at the san diego zoo safari park getting ready to bloom. Hummingbirds love these tall bloom stalks.
Agave tall succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
Agave americana
Shaws agave after monocarpic death bloom monocarpic
Shaw’s agave (agave shawii) at the san diego zoo safari park post death bloom. The mother plant has died (alll those dead leaves) but has produced many pups which will live on.
Sempervivum succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
Sempervivum arachnoideum


Commonly known as hens and chicks, these succulents produce offsets that continue the life cycle even after the “sempervivum death bloom.”

Flapjack succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
Kalanchoe death bloom. These usually grow a ton of pups around the base.


Certain species of Kalanchoe, such as Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, also known as the “flapjack succulent,” experience a “flapjack succulent death bloom” before dying.

Kalanchoe flapjack succulent death bloom monocarpic
Flapjack death bloom

Echeveria afterglow succulent death bloom terminal inflorescence rotated monocarpic
Death blooms are common in echeveria ‘afterglow’ but not all echeveria species will do this.


Echeveria species can also be monocarpic. The “echeveria death bloom” is a stunning event, often followed by the plant’s death.

Echeveria blue sky succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
Echeveria ‘blue sky’ is the other echeveria species where a death bloom is common.

*Echeveria are not monocarpic, however two common species that may produce a death bloom/terminal inflorescence are Echeveria ‘Afterglow’ and Echeveria ‘Blue Sky’.

These two species can also produce normal bloom stalks from points in between lower leaves and continue growing after those flowers have finished blooming.

Tall aeonium nobilis monocarpic succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
Aeonium nobilis has one of my favorite death blooms. So pretty!


Aeoniums have a rosette form and can live for many years before flowering. The “aeonium death bloom” is a striking display, after which the plant dies.

Singular agave attenuata monocarpic succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
Now you can see why the common name of agave attenuata is ‘foxtail agave’. Also notice that the leaves below the inflorescence are starting to look drab and dull.
Huge bloom of death foxtail agave attenuata monocarpic succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
More agave bloom stalks

Understanding the Death Bloom

What is a Death Bloom?

A “death bloom” refers to the final flowering event of a monocarpic succulent. After this bloom, the plant will produce seeds and then die. This term is often used to describe the dramatic and sometimes sad end of a succulent’s life.

Identifying a Death Bloom

Recognizing a death bloom involves observing the plant closely for specific signs:

  • Rapid Growth of a Flower Spike: The flower spike often grows quickly and dramatically, sometimes reaching heights much greater than the plant’s normal growth.
  • Large, Central Flower: The flower produced is usually large and centrally located, making it stand out significantly.
  • Changes in Plant Structure: The plant might change its growth pattern, with leaves focusing energy towards the central flower spike.
Dramatic black rose aeonium monocarpic succulent death bloom monocarpic
Another beautiful succulent death bloom in the making.

What Triggers a Death Bloom?

The triggers for a death bloom can vary depending on the species and environmental conditions:

  • Maturity: Monocarpic succulents bloom when they reach a certain age or level of maturity.
  • Environmental Conditions: Factors such as light, temperature, and water availability can influence the timing of the bloom.
  • Stress Factors: Sometimes, stress conditions like drought or nutrient scarcity can trigger the plant to flower as a survival mechanism.
Chinese dunce cap monocarpic succulent death bloom orostachys rotated monocarpic
Orostachys iwarenge ‘chinese dunce caps’ is also another species that dies after flowering.

Propagation of Monocarpic Succulents

Seed Propagation

Collect seeds from the flower after it has died. Sow the seeds in well-draining soil and keep them moist until germination. This ensures the continuation of the succulent life cycle.

After the tall agave death bloom is removed pups appear monocarpic
Even when the giant bloom stalk is removed from an agave pups are still able to grow from what’s left.

Offset Propagation

Many monocarpic succulents produce offsets, or “pups.” Separate these from the mother plant and replant them to continue the life cycle. Offsets are an easy way to propagate and grow new plants.

Monocarpic succulents offer a unique gardening experience with their spectacular blooms and singular life cycle. Understanding the “death bloom,” the role of the apical meristem, how to identify a death bloom, and what triggers it can help you enjoy their beauty and ensure their successful cultivation. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a succulent enthusiast, monocarpic succulents are a rewarding addition to your plant collection.


Aeonium nobilis monocarpic succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic
So much energy is spent growing a terminal inflorescence that the leaves just…. Die.

What is a succulent death bloom?

A succulent death bloom is the final flowering event of a monocarpic succulent, which ultimately leads to the plant’s death.

Are all succulents monocarpic?

No, not all succulents are monocarpic. Some are polycarpic, meaning they can bloom multiple times throughout their lives without dying.

Echeveria encantada multiple bloom stalks rotated monocarpic
Growing bloom stalks does take a ton of energy from echeveria, but unless they’re coming from the very center of the rosette, it won’t die after flowering and you’ll be able to pull those bloom stalks off.

Agave attenuata pups after flowering monocarpic
A ton of babies underneath large agave attenuata. Almost too many to keep up with!

Can I prevent a monocarpic succulent from dying after it blooms?

Unfortunately, you cannot prevent a monocarpic succulent from dying after it blooms. However, you can propagate the plant before its death bloom to preserve its legacy.

Aloe aculeata blooming monocarpic

Is this an Aloe bloom of death?

Nope! Aloe are not monocarpic. These bright flowers usually appear in January and you can enjoy them for at least a month or so until they are reabsorbed and the bloom stalks dry up.

Do all Echeveria species die after flowering?

Not all Echeveria species are die after flowering. Some die after flowering, while others can bloom multiple times without dying. It’s crucial to research individual species to determine their lifecycle.

Echeveria lola multiple bloom stalks rotated monocarpic
Echeveria ‘lola’ growing at least 7 flower stalks, but none of them are growing from the very center so this won’t die either.
Baby agave plantlets from monocarpic succulent death bloom rotated monocarpic

Will my monocarpic succulent leave behind offspring after it dies?

Many monocarpic succulents produce offsets or “pups” around their base, which can be propagated and grown into new plants.

Some also produce seeds that can be harvested and sown to grow new plants. This is a much more difficult and time consuming method.

Are Sempervivums monocarpic?

Yes, Sempervivums are one of the genera where all of the species are monocarpic and will die after flowering. The mother plant will produce lots of pups before dying though which are easy to propagate.

What does it mean when a succulent flowers?

In most cases, flowering is a sign that the succulent is healthy, mature, and doing well in its current conditions. So, great job at plant parenting!! It’s a natural part of the plant’s growth and development. An impressive bloom is a beautiful reward for proper succulent care.

When a succulent plant flowers, it usually indicates the following:

  • Maturity – The plant is mature enough to produce flowers. Many succulents don’t flower until they reach a certain age.
  • Good health – Flowering is often a sign that the plant is getting proper sunlight, water, nutrients, etc. If a succulent is stressed, it likely won’t have the resources to produce flowers.
  • Season change – Some succulents flower based on seasonal changes, like increasing light and warmth in spring/summer. The hours of sunlight or temperatures triggering the hormonal changes needed for flowering.
  • Propagation – The plant is preparing to reproduce. Flowers lead to pollination and the eventual production of seeds. The plant flowers to propagate itself.
  • End of lifespan if it is a monocarpic succulent.

Are the flowers on my succulent supposed to die?

Agave succulent flowering stalk at the san diego zoo safari park africa tram monocarpic

Yes, it’s normal for the flowers on succulents to die off after blooming.

An agave bloom of death forming in the parking lot of the san diego zoo safari park monocarpic

Here are some more details:

  • Succulent flowers are meant to be temporary. They bloom to attract pollinators and produce seeds, but each individual flower only lasts about 1-2 weeks.
  • Once the flowers fade and die, it triggers the plant to put energy into developing seeds instead of sustaining the flowers. This is part of the natural life cycle.
  • Dead flowers can simply be plucked off to keep the plant looking tidy. Just be gentle and avoid damaging the main plant.
  • Some succulents like Echeveria may bloom quite prolifically in cycles over a period of weeks or months. But again each flower itself will die off.
  • If the whole flower stalk starts drying out and dying back, you can trim it off closer to the main rosette.
  • While flowers dying is normal, if leaves or main stems start dying too it could mean there’s another issue like overwatering. But the flowers naturally have a short lifespan.
This is what it looks like when an agave shawii succulent dies after flowering monocarpic
You can see that the center Agave shawii has died, but there are many pups that have grown around it after the mother succulent has died.

So in short – enjoy the blooms when your succulent flowers, but expect them to wither away on their own as the succulent focuses energy elsewhere. It’s just part of the succulent’s natural growth habit.

More examples of death blooms from Reddit:

What is This?
byu/rarestereocats insucculents