Sempervivum arachnoideum

The Sempervivum Arachnoideum, or cobweb houseleek, forms a mounding clump of little rosettes that look like they are covered in spider webs. The unique cobwebbing on the attractive succulent leaves, which can range from light green to pink and red, is caused by lots of tiny white hairs.

It is a member of the Crassulaceae family and is native to the Alps, Apennines and Carpathian Mountains of southern Europe. It is a fast-growing succulent producing many offsets, which is typical of monocarpic plants. (A monocarpic plant will grow, flower, set seed, and then the mother rosette will die off – you may not even notice this due to the many other, still immature, rosettes forming around the soon-to-die-off flowering rosette.)

Flowering time for the sempervivum arachnoideum is in summer, and it will produce tall spikes of pink flowers. The plants like a lot of sunlight and fresh air, but will also tolerate light shade. They are frost and cold hardy but will also tolerate heat. The soil should be a very well-draining succulent mix. Water regularly in summer, but keep drier in winter. A good way to display the strange-looking cobweb houseleek is to plant it between attractive stones in a wide, shallow container.

The Gardener