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Jovibarba is the genus name for approximately six species of mat-like perennials, although some botanists claim there are only three distinct species. Also called the beard of Jove, Jovibarba is native to the mountainous areas of Europe. This genus of plant is grown for its thick symmetrical rosettes of leaves and bell-like flowers. Easy to grow, the species in the genus Jovibarba are often planted in rock gardens, along alpine walls, inside troughs, and even within alpine homes.
The genus Jovibarba is related very closely to another genus, Sempervivum. Some botanists classify Jovibarba as a subgenus of Sempervivum, however most prefer to separate the two genera. The main difference between the two species is the petal count. Jovibarbas have flowers with six petals, while Sempervivum have more than six petals.
Considered an evergreen perennial, the Jovibarba species typically have fleshy, lance-shaped leaves that are arranged in a rose-like pattern. The rosettes are typically 1 to 3 inches (about 2.5 cm to 7.6 cm) in diameter, depending on the species. Some species have leaves that are tinted red, purple, or brown, either along the tips, the margins, or for the full leaf. In addition, most species also contain six-petaled flowers. The small flowers hang down like a bell and come in a variety of colors, such as purple, yellow, green, and light brown.
The various species of Jovibarba grow best in poor, well-drained, gritty soil. They prefer to be in full sun as well. After a plant produces flowers, the rosette may be removed. Most species are quite hardy, since they can survive in temperatures that dip as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit (about -28.9 degrees Celsius). In addition, they are rarely plagued by pests, diseases, or other plant-related issues.
Jovibarbas are often termed "rollers" because the new offshoots typically grow as a mound on top of the “mother” plant. Then, the new growth will break off of the mother plant and roll away. At that point, it can start a new plant. This process happens both easily and frequently. So, people growing Jovibarbas need to have plenty of space in their garden for new plant growth.
Jovibarba plants can be purchased at many garden centers or nurseries, particularly in mountainous areas across North America and Europe. They can also be purchased through many Internet garden stores or through high-quality garden catalogs. It is not recommended that they be grown from seed, since they propagate so easily through the roller method.