S. arachnoideum is native to Austria, Corse, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. The plant grows on European mountains like Alps, Appennini, Pyrenees and Cordillera Cantabrica where the plant can spread up to 2800 m of altitude and grows in cold and drought conditions.
S. arachnoideum is an evergreen, perennial succulent belonging to the Crassulaceae botanical family. The plant is stemless and spineless and forms a rosette of 50-60 leaves. The rosette is very compact and small and can reach up to 3 cm in diameter but the plant tends to form a mats which can reach up to 30 cm in diameter and 8 cm in height. The leaves are oblanceolate to oblong-obovate bright green with brown or red tip. The leaves are connected each other from the tip by a cobweb of white hairs. Blooming occurs from the summer to the late autumn and the blossom are borne by stalks up to 20 cm tall. The plant is monocarpic so the mother rosette after flowering dies. The flowers have both male and female reproductive organs; they are pink to bright red, fleshy and star-shaped. This succulent is very common and appreciated by collectors and there are many varieties and hybrids and also a dwarf form and a crested form. The varieties differ for the size, the color of the leaevs, the shape, the flowering and the color of the hairs.
The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is in bright place but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 0° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The perfect soil is a well-drained soil that let the water to drain away and avoid root rot. To achieve this feature, you can mix the pumice soil, clay and soil. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs. It is recommended to prone dead rosette after flowering to avoid rots.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
Probably of tropical origin, Sempervivum has spread and acclimated spontaneously even in temperate climates and even in mountainous areas. The name makes it evident that it is a perennial plant and, like the other Crassulaceae, very robust. The specific epithet “arachnoideum” is a Latin word that means “like a spider” and refers to the cobweb of hairs that connect the leaves.
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