A few years ago, I published a post on growing and caring for hens and chicks. Today I’m showing how to re-plant hens and chicks. And I even crafted a video to show you exactly how it’s done. You can check that out at the bottom of this post.
Would you believe me if I told you all of my hens and chicks are originally from about 20 hens and chicks my mom gave me around 8 years ago? That’s right, I’ve grown Sempervivum tectorum from those original twenty. That’s because these specific Sempervivum spread rapidly via offsets. Offsets are all those tiny babies surrounding the mother succulent, which are clones of the mother. Pretty cool, right? So given the space and right conditions, they will multiply like crazy.
- Re-Planting Hens and Chicks
- Re-Planting Newer Hens and Chicks
- Echeveria elegans
- Mexican Hens and Chicks
- Echeveria vs Sempervivum
- Leaf shape
- “Chick” positioning
- Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks)
- NOTES FROM THE NURSERY
- What Are Hens And Chicks Plants?
- Can The Mother Hen and Chicks Plant Grow Outside?
- How Long Does The Hen & Chicks Plant Live?
- Where Can You Plant Hens and Chickens Plants?
- What Are The Best Hens and Chicks Varieties?
- How To Grow Hens And Chicks
- How To Propagate Hens and Chicks?
- Are There Hens And Chicks Flowers?
- How Long Do These Sempervivum Succulents Live?
- How Quickly Do They Grow & How Big Do They Get?
- 7 Quick Facts About Hen & Chick Plants
- Do Sempervivum Plants Have Any Pest Or Disease Problems?
- What Are The Best Uses Of Hen & Chicks In The Garden?
- 10 Best Ways To “Show Off” Sempervivums
- Tips For Planting And Displaying Your Hens and Chicks Collection
- What To Look For When Buying Hen & Chicks?
- Wrapping Up
- Growing Hens And Chicks – Using Hen And Chicks In Your Garden
- Using Hens and Chicks Plants
When hens and chicks start to get crowded, they’ll overspill their container if the soil hasn’t sunk too deep into the container. Or they’ll squeeze themselves into the container until there isn’t any room left, making it hard for them to create offsets.
One way to clean up pots of hens and chicks, or to thin them out, is to remove some and replant them in different containers. Or, you could remove all the hens and chicks from the original container, put in fresh soil, clean some of the hens and chicks, and re-plant. If you’re left with extras, you can always give them to friends or family.
Here’s the same yellow pot a year later. See how a lot of the succulents have died out? The remaining 10 hens and chicks can be plucked out, cleaned up, and re-planted so they can spread and make offsets.
In fact, I used some of the succulents from the yellow pot above in this rectangular pot.
And within 4 months, that planter looked like this.
I counted around 60 babies. 60! In the matter of 4 months from 11 succulents. See what they can do if you give them a little space to asexually produce?
I don’t use a special soil with my hens and chicks. I find that a regular potting soil works just fine. If you want, you can add some extra perlite for better drainage and some compost for additional nutrients. I’ve done different things to fertilize my hens and chicks. This year, I’ve been mixing this time released fertilizer into the soil. In the past, I’ve used this fertilizer to water them once a week. This year I’m trying out this fertilizer in a weekly watering because I bought it for my indoor plants and a little goes a long way. You can’t go wrong with either, although the time-released fertilizer is less maintenance.
Re-Planting Hens and Chicks
Now, let’s say you already have some hens and chicks and you want to thin them out, clean them up, or you want to fill a different container.
Remove and Clean
Start by popping the Sempervivum out of the planter. A gentle tug is all it really takes. It will most likely look like this.
Then, clean off all of the dead leaves by carefully peeling them off.
Shorten the Stem and Plant
To shorten the stem, I just use my thumb nail to sever the stem.
Finally, insert the stem into the soil, and you’re done! The pot below should fill up and cover all the soil in a few months.
Re-Planting Newer Hens and Chicks
Say you have a container you want to fill but you want to use smaller hens and chicks. Or you have a pot with a lot of dangling hens and chicks (they grow out to get as much sun as possible).
Begin by gently pulling the succulent, removing it from the planter.
Next, clean off all the dead leaves and trim the stem.
Then, stick it in the soil.
I used newer hens and chicks to create these baby shower favors because I was working with smaller terra cotta pots.
Want to see exactly how I re-plant hens and chicks? Watch the video below!
And lest you think I totally have my life together, here’s my very professional video equipment and studio.
Want some general hens and chicks growing info? to read more!
Want to know were I buy my favorite planters? to find out!
Mexican Hens and Chicks
Echeveria elegans, is as the name suggests, an elegant classic.
Also known as White Mexican Rose, Mexican hens and chicks and Mexican Gem. The lovely flower-like rosettes can in time become a virtual carpet of pale blue. It’s easy to grow, and forms offsets quickly and can make a wide carpet of the rose-like rosettes.
Size of each rosette is about 6cm (3-4″) across, but they can quickly form clusters of many offsets that may reach over 50cm (1-1/2′) across. Grown in a container they’re well behaved and easily pruned back to size.
The best conditions are in bright light at all times to prevent stretching, and excellent drainage.
Fertilize sparingly to stop excessive growth – I recommend a couple of waterings with compost tea over the growing season, tapering to no water at all in the winter, especially indoors.
Propagate by removing offsets, which form readily – simply pull them off, replant where you want them, either to form another colony in your landscaping, or in containers, where they excel.
Behead them if they get too tall, particularly if the light isn’t bright enough.
This encourages new growth to emerge from beneath the cut part, and makes a more compact plant.
The top of the rosette will root easily in dry potting soil, and replace the older stem.
Use as groundcover if you’re in a warm climate with no frost, as an indoor houseplant in a sunny window or for succulent wreaths and other crafts.
It’s also gorgeous in wedding bouquets and combines beautifully with other succulents in other wedding flowers.
Want your succulents to survive the winter? Learn how to bring them indoors and be happy and healthy with this free e-course; Fill in your name and email address on the form below to enroll!
Winterizing Succulents E-Course
Echeveria List A-L
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How to Grow Echeveria
Echeveria vs Sempervivum
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So you just bought a plant at a store and it was simply labeled “succulent”. We’ve all been there. If you have narrowed it down to either Echeveria or Sempervivium you’re already doing better than most of us. Here are a few key pointers to help you figure out the genus of your plant.
Table of Contents
While this isn’t a visual indicator of which genus you’re looking at, this background can help you care for it once you’ve figured it out. Simply, Sempervivum are frost-resistant and Echeveria are not. Sempervivum are native to colder regions like Europe. They experience winter every year, and can survive it. This is a great boon if you keep your plants outdoors. Most Echeveria, however, are from places like Mexico. They expect heat so they are not equipped to deal with cold. If your plant dies after a surprise frost, you can probably guess which kind it was.
This is simultaneously the reason they are confusing, but also your best bet for differentiating them. Echeveria have rounded, plump leaves that are so typical of succulents. They often end in a sharp point like a spike. “But Sempervivums are also rounded and spiky!” That’s true – the distinction is made by comparing their plumpness. Echeveria are usually noticeably thicker. Both plants have tightly-packed rosettes, but due to the thickness of Echeveria leaves, there are usually less leaves around a rosette than in Sempervivum. The only issue with determining genus by leaf shape is that if you’re not already intimately familiar, it’s hard to tell without comparing them side-by-side.
You and I are not the first to have difficulty identifying the genus of these plants. Their similarity has led to people calling both kinds “hens and chicks”, which is unfortunate because they were confusing enough before we started calling them by the same name! There is a clever trick, however, that you can employ when chicks are present. Echeveria chicks tend to hang out under their mother “hen”. They’re often not visible until you move leaves around or they get much larger. Sempervivum chicks, on the other hand, are very visible. They tend to sprout adjacent to the mother rather than under the umbrage of her rosette. They will always be hugging close to her though!
Examining the flowers is the most foolproof way of determining the genus. The only problem is that succulents rarely bloom, and if they do it’s not for very long. But if you are lucky enough to happen upon one during flowering, here’s how you tell them apart:
Echeveria are polycarps. That’s a kind of plant that has multiple flowers arising from one stem. You’ll see this in Echeveria quite clearly – a long, slender stem shoots up from the rosette and at the top a bunch of little flowers will dangle like bells. Eventually the flowers will die and the stalk will wither away and everything will be back to normal.
Sempervivum, however, are not so fortunate. Their strategy instead is to grow their rosette taller and often thicker. At the top, multiple flowers will bloom. Then, once the flowers are withered, the entire stalk will also die. That means your Sempervivum plant has moved on, and left its chicks alone in the world. (Sniff, I’m not crying.)
If you want to save your Sempervivum, it is possible! If you see that center stalk starting to grow – snip it! If you catch it early enough, and make a nice, clean cut with some garden scissors, the plant will stop marching to its doom.
That’s all the tips I have! Do you have any other methods of telling the difference between Echeveria and Sempervivum?
It’s true, most succulents keep on giving in terms of the cuttings you’ll get, but Hens and Chicks really hit the mark on this one. Just look at the picture and you’ll see tons of babies, or larger rosettes for that matter, just waiting to be cut out of the patch. They’re easy to care for, require little water and actually make good houseplants.
Something to know: there are a few succulents which carry this common name. The Hens and Chicks that I’m referring to here and in the video below is Echeveria x imbricata, the 1 most commonly sold in California. There are a few Sempervivums known as Hens and Chicks which are sold across the country and much more cold hardy that this 1. And, to add to this horticultural head scratcher, there’s also a Sedum called Hens and Chicks. My goodness, this is a very common common name!
You’ll find out a lot about Hens & Chicks, including caring for them as houseplants, in this video:
It’s so easy to get cuttings of succulents to grow and Hens And Chicks are certainly no exception. Watch this video to see how to take and plant succulent cuttings. The cuttings you see in the video are very pale and elongated (this is called etiolation in the plant world) because I stuck them in my utility room for over 4 months where the winter light was quite subdued. I planted them about a month ago and they’re already greening up.
I took this cutting well over a year ago from the same plant pictured above. The color is slightly different because the mother plant is growing in full sun & this 1 grows in shade.
This particular Hens and Chicks makes a great houseplant. Just be sure to not over water it, especially in those cooler months with less light. Whether you have it indoors or outdoors, it’s easy to take cuttings of and to grow. With this one, you’ll get great returns – an abundance of babies!
Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks)
- Colors: Many Sempervivum can change colors significantly through the seasons – you might not recognize them from one month to the next. They put on a show of reds, blues, purples, bronzes, and more, sometimes with two-tone shading or sharply contrasting leaf tips. NOTE: If you want more consistent year-round color, consider Sempervivum heuffelii.
- Form: Rosettes range from 0.25″ to 10.0″ in diameter. “Hens & Chicks” references the way a mother rosette sends out new offsets on stolons, which leads to dense colonies that can spread into a ground cover mat.
- Foliage: Leaves can be glossy, velvety, webbed, or tufted. Some cultivars are also lined with fine cilia that make them appear furry.
- Flowers: Sempervivum are monocarpic; after multiple years (typically 2-5), a rosette hen will send up a bloom stalk and open delicate, star-shaped flowers of pink, red, or yellow. Blooms can reach over 2.0′ high and last for 2-4 weeks. This process marks the end of a hen’s life, but the chicks surrounding it will survive and grow into the vacated space. What to Know About Sempervivum Flowers
- Light: In most climates, morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal for Sempervivum. They grow well in a wide range of light conditions, but at temperatures over 85F, extra shade will help them look their best. These tough plants can tolerate high temperatures or full sun, but preferably not both at the same time. Succulent Sunburn
- Soil: Coming from alpine habitats, Sempervivum prefer a lean, gritty soil like cactus/succulent potting mix or sandy loam. No fertilizer is necessary, but applying a slow-release, low-Nitrogen (5-10-10) fertilizer in the spring will encourage faster growth.
- Water: Sempervivum thrive with deep, infrequent watering when time is given for the soil to fully dry between soakings. Frequency will vary by location; start with about 2-3 times a week to establish young plants, 1-2 times a month for mature plants in the growing season, 1-2 times a month in the winter, and no water if the temperature is below freezing. For container plantings, we recommend using pots with drainage holes. How to Water Succulents
- Hardiness: Semps are ideal for succulent lovers in most regions, as they are frost hardy down to -20F (zone 5). They overwinter best protected under a blanket of snow, but using clear covers and bringing containers under shelter will help prevent rot in snow-free areas. Winter Succulent Care
- Propagation: Sempervivum do not require any propagation maintenance, but a gardener looking to transplant and multiply their colonies can easily dig up rosettes or cut new offsets from stolons and plant them in partial sun with well-draining soil to re-establish.
NOTES FROM THE NURSERY
We love Sempervivum. After all, they’re the succulents that got us started over two decades ago, and they continue to be our most popular plants to this day. These “hens and chicks” have been good to us over the years, so we’re confident they’ll be good for you too!
By picking a spot with sufficient light and good drainage, growing them becomes a rewarding, low-effort experience. Even if something does go wrong, they are forgiving growers and will often revive (here’s how). That’s how they got the Latin name Sempervivum, which means “always alive.”
For more information, check out this excellent book by hybridizer Kevin Vaughn: Sempervivum: A Gardener’s Perspective on the Not-So-Humble Hens-and-Chicks.
Hens and Chicks aka Sempervivum pronounced (sem-per-VEEV-um) makes up a group of approximately forty different species of small, rosette-forming succulent plants hailing from North Africa, Western Asia, and Europe.
These easy-care succulents are an excellent choice for young or novice gardeners.
In this article, we discuss this popular succulent known also as Houseleek plant or Hen and Chicks and share advice on curating and caring for your collection. Read on to learn more.
What Are Hens And Chicks Plants?
Sempervivum is a genus of stemless succulents. The young plants or offsets develop in the leaf axils.
The alternate leaves are thick and fleshy, are often are red spotted toward the tips and form compact rosettes.
In the “spider-web” forms, the entire plant looks to like it is covered with silvery cobwebs.
All the hardy forms do well rock gardens and borders. The more tender or greenhouse types are valuable as succulents indoors and as summer plants outdoors.
The even smaller sorts are popular additions for use in dish gardens, terrariums, and other miniature arrangements.
Can The Mother Hen and Chicks Plant Grow Outside?
The most well-known “common” houseleek Sempervivum tectorum comes from Europe where it is traditionally planted on the roofs of cottages for many centuries.
The reason? Folklore has it that a good crop of hens and chicks succulents on your roof will protect your home from lightning and fire and will also to help hold the roof slates in place.
Furthermore, the edible evergreen leaves provided emergency greenery in the winter time.
They also provide a handy gel much like the gel in Aloe vera plants and used in much the same way, as a treatment for burns, bruises, cuts and skin conditions.
Even in this day and age, many European cottages exhibit fine displays of houseleeks on the roof.
How Long Does The Hen & Chicks Plant Live?
The short answer is “forever”. Although individual plants don’t live forever, they reproduce with such wild abandon.
If you have one, you can always expect to have at least one (probably more).
The Latin genus name of the humble houseleek is “semper,” which means “always” and “vivus” which means “alive.”
The specific epithet, “tectum” means “roof.” So, this plant is “always alive on the roof.”
Most of these plants are mountain dwellers, very hardy, cold tolerant and long-lived. In fact, it is difficult to kill these robust little plants.
They survive and thrive under all sorts of adverse circumstances, as long as you don’t overwater.
Where Can You Plant Hens and Chickens Plants?
If you live in a cool, bright place, you can plant them on the rooftop.
In the garden, Sempervivum hens and chicks are ideal for rock gardens, cracks, and crevices in the walls, pavement or between rocks.
They’re good for any dry area or other locations that may be unsuitable for growing other plants.
Hen and chicks are the next best thing to an air plant. They can grow practically anywhere. Examples of good growing spaces include:
- Cracks in the sidewalk
- Cracks in rocks
- Rock gardens
- In seashells
Hen and Chicks plant care indoors or outdoors is easy because they’re hardy and grow on rocks with shallow depressions or basins.
You can create a charming miniature landscape indoors or outdoors by growing them in this way.
They also do well in very shallow planters on sunny windowsills indoors or in outdoor settings. They are made to order for creative planting projects.
What Are The Best Hens and Chicks Varieties?
In addition to the common Sempervivum tectorum, there are hundreds of interesting and colorful variations and an ever-growing number of hybrids. Some favorites include:
Sempervivum tectorum var. calcareum a fairly large species with gray-green leaves and burgundy tips.
Some popular cultivars of this species are “Mrs. Giuseppe” and “Sir William Lawrence”.
Sempervivum arachnoideum or “Cobweb Houseleek” is a smaller variety with very tight rosettes and interesting “cobwebbed” foliage. It does very well in a rock garden or kept in a small pot on a windowsill.
NOTE: Sempervivum arachnoideum and Sempervivum pittoni are “hairy types” and in northern climates may rot from snow. Move these types and varieties to a greenhouse or cold frame over winter.
- Sempervivum arenarium – Forming tiny, globular clumps of 60 to 80 bright green leaves sometimes tipped in red; flowers pale yellow. A sand-loving species.
- Sempervivum braunii – leaf rosettes about 2 inches across. Produces dull yellow flowers in July.
- Sempervivum calcareum – From France; attains 1 ft., has smooth leaves with red-brown tips, and pale red flowers in summer.
- Sempervivum fimbriatum – A hybrid with reddish leaves tipped with hairs. The outer hairs are reddish. Features bright red flowers in July.
- Sempervivum montanum – Tightly packed leaf rosettes, bright purple flowers in June, on 6” inch stems.
- Sempervivum soboliferum – A popular form with pale yellow flowers in dense heads 4 inches across in summer. New rosettes are attached to the parent plants by slender threads.
- Sempervivum tectorum – The best known species with many names, including Roof Houseleek, Hen-and-chickens, Old Man, Old Woman, etc. Leaf rosettes to 4” inches across; hairy stems to 1 foot high; flowers pink to red, about 1” inch across.
- Sempervivum atlanticum – Pale green leaves, slender smooth, tipped with reddish-brown when mature. Pale red 1” inch flowers in summer on 1′ foot stems.
How To Grow Hens And Chicks
These plants have been in cultivation for centuries, and growing them is simple.
They literally “grow like a weed” from cracks in the sidewalk or between rocks or, as we’ve said, even on the roofs of houses in cool, bright places.
Hens and chicks plants will grow outdoors, and yes, you can grow sempervivum hens and chicks indoors as well. They make excellent indoor additions.
These plants are very versatile and will do well in almost any setting as long as it is not too hot, too wet or too fertile.
They prefer neglect to any special loving care. Just think about the way they have traditionally been grown – on rooftops in cold climates.
In short, they thrive under these bright, exposed, neglected conditions.
What Soil To Use For Sempervivum?
To grow them successfully, provide shallow, well-drained soil. A combination of:
- 3 parts succulent mix (a perfect base soil for succulents)
- 1 part crushed limestone
… is a good choice.
Remember, the root system of the houseleek is very small, so always use shallow pots or stones or shells with natural hollows or depressions.
When using a stone, you don’t even need to add soil.
Just set the chick and hen plant in the depression and wet the rock down from time-to-time to provide the plant with moisture.
In your home or office, keep your houseleeks in shallow containers with very coarse, well-draining soil or no soil at all.
How Much Water Does A Sempervivum Need?
Water sparingly in the spring and summer and not at all in the winter. Don’t fertilize at all.
What Are Hens and Chicks Light Requirements?
Keep your chicken and hen plants in a bright, cool place with lots of sunshine. A hot southern or western window will not do.
Provide plenty of bright sunlight, but protect from excessive heat, in a north or east facing window or a few feet away from a south or west facing window.
If they seem to suffer from the direct sun through the glass, move them away from the window a bit.
How To Propagate Hens and Chicks?
Propagation of Sempervivum plants couldn’t be easier.
The common name “Hen & Chicks” is derived from the fact that these plants resemble a hen with her chicks.
The “mother” plant sends off shoots that develop into smaller plants with tiny roots.
In a natural setting, the plantlets detach on their own and may take root where they are, or they may blow about like little tumbleweeds until they find a suitable home.
To propagate Sempervivum tectorum, all you have to do is wait.
When the plant produces little plantlets, gently remove them and plant them just as you would a full grown plant.
Set them in shallow, well-drained soil or on a suitable rock or shell.
Take leaves or small cuttings and allow them to dry and heal over for about a week. Next place them in sand and wait for the tiny rosettes to start in a few weeks.
Water sparingly during the spring and summer and not at all in the autumn and winter. Never fertilize.
Are There Hens And Chicks Flowers?
Very rarely, houseleeks produce small, scentless, pink or yellow flowers on a stalk which emerges from the center of the plant.
If this happens at all, it will occur during the spring or summer. The flowers, borne in dense heads, are variously colored—white, pink, greenish, yellow or purplish.
How Long Do These Sempervivum Succulents Live?
Hen and chicks succulents propagate so easily they essentially live forever.
Sempervivums Care: Do They Die After Flowering?
Individual plants are long-lived, but after blooming, the “hen” dies and fades away. The old “hen” plant can be removed leaving more space for the “chicks.“
Even though the “hen plant” dies they always leave plenty of replacements in their wake.
How Quickly Do They Grow & How Big Do They Get?
These rapidly growing plants are mostly a groundcover (or roof cover), so they don’t get very big.
There are many other Sempervivum plant varieties for all types of gardening.
They grow from tiny, dime-sized plantlets (Sempervivum arenaria) to full-grown plants, ranging in size from one inch to eight inches across (Sempervivum magnificum) and just as tall (depending on the variety), within a couple of months.
Then they start sending out shoots of their own.
- Are Hens and Chicks Plants Poisonous
- Caring For The Rat Tail – (Aporocactus Flagelliformis)
7 Quick Facts About Hen & Chick Plants
- Common house leeks are herbaceous, perennial succulents and members of the Crassulaceae family along with Sedum morganianumthe “burro’s tail” and popular succulent jade plant.
- Their height varies from half an inch to one foot high, and they can spread from half an inch to one and a half feet.
- They are native to Central Europe and do well in USDA hardiness zones 3-8.
- If they flower at all, it will usually occur in June or July, and the parent plant will die after flowering.
- Provide shallow, coarse, quickly draining soil or no soil at all.
- Water sparingly in the growing season and not at all the rest of the year.
- Don’t fertilize.
Do Sempervivum Plants Have Any Pest Or Disease Problems?
Most problems with houseleeks are caused by overwatering.
Remember, these plants appreciate and thrive in dry conditions. Excessive over-watering will lead to rot and pest infestation.
Even in ideal conditions, you may occasionally have trouble with root mealybugs, which live in dry soil.
Check potted plants from time-to-time by taking the plant out of the container and check for root mealybugs.
If you see any infestation in the soil, treat with a systemic insecticide solution or neem oil used as a soil drench.
Some succulent and cactus growers use isopropyl alcohol as a soil drench to deal with soil-dwelling pests.
It is also safe to use rubbing alcohol to wipe the leaves and to clean between the leaves with a cotton swab if you find mealybugs on the plant.
What Are The Best Uses Of Hen & Chicks In The Garden?
Sempervivum tectorum is excellent as a ground cover. Outdoors, these hardy, low maintenance succulents like full sun and low-to-medium watering.
They do well in poor, rocky, shallow soil and are resistant to drought, deer, and air pollution.
The plant grows in a mat formation when used as a ground (or roof) cover. A fully developed rosette are typically about four inches across and produce thick, glossy, edible leaves.
The many varieties of this plant come in colors ranging from bright green to purple to dusky red and many combinations thereof.
Sempervivums come in many interesting varieties. This makes it easy to create an impressive collection in your rock garden or containers.
Hen and chicks succulents also do very well lining a walkway, along the edges or tops of stone walls or around the foundation of your home.
Because they are so tough, prolific and versatile, you can experiment with placing them in hollow spots in trees or other interesting and unusual places that provide little or no soil, lots of good drainage and good lighting.
10 Best Ways To “Show Off” Sempervivums
- Group several of the same kids together
- Cluster them in low containers
- Contrast row plantings against a layer of white pebbles
- Hen and Chicken planters: wooden squares, triangles or planter boxes
- Set single varieties in squatty azalea pots
- Use them to top stone walls
- Tuck them into garden corners, rock gardens or chinks in walls or walks
- Plant them in strawberry jars
- Plant and create centerpieces
- Display them on pieces of driftwood or a porous cactus wood stump (more below)
Tips For Planting And Displaying Your Hens and Chicks Collection
To create great displays use “wooden planters” which are knots, slabs, small stumps, or other pieces of decaying wood you can pick up on fishing trips or vacations through woods or desert.
They are lightweight, easily moved, and best of all they cost nothing!
Look for pieces with knots, hollows, and ridges where some soil could be tucked in.
For example, a gnarled grape root with many natural cavities or pockets that could be enlarged, made an ideal setting for sempervivums.
Grower Tip: Before planting hens and chicks in any kind driftwood or stump, throw the wood into a tub of hot soapy water with some neem oil or pour boiling water over the wood to kill and insect pests it may be harboring.
For a natural effect, use the wood as it is, without painting or refinishing.
If you are working with a stump, invert it, so the root end becomes the planter top. This gives a nicely balanced planting with a look of stability.
Pack all hollows and holes full of moistened garden soil into which you have mixed a generous amount of damp peat moss. Tamp it in with a thin stick.
Tack a layer of sphagnum moss or sheet moss over the soil to keep it from washing away. Now you are ready to plant your Sempervivums.
Large Plants Are The Stars
Use a small pointed stick or an old table fork to make planting holes in the moss. Plant the sempervivums into the soil-filled areas.
Begin with large Sempervivums such as red Sempervivum magnificum for the basic design.
Use miniatures and small varieties like the silver-haired Sempervivum arachnoideum (Cobweb Houseleek) and emerald green Sempervivum globiferum subs. arenarium make perfect fillers.
Trailing sedums add grace to new plantings and can be removed when the sempervivums start colonizing.
Set the finished plantings in a semi-shaded area to become established.
Water once or twice a week with a sprinkling can or fine spray so the new plants won’t become dislodged.
It usually takes these plantings about a month to become established.
You can tell when a plant is firmly established by giving it a gentle tug. If the plant easily dislodges, leave the planting another week or so to settle in.
Once established, set the planter in any sunny place. A patio, porch, or pebbled surface makes an excellent background for it. Water it as often as needed with a spray from the garden hose.
Fertilize the planting monthly by pouring a diluted liquid fertilizer directly on the wooden base, making sure the wood is moist first, so it will absorb.
These different planters are ideal for showing off a collection of sempervivums, much better than in a garden bed, where small species might be lost.
Start by planting with several varieties and when you find a one for your collection add them to the wooden base.
You’ll find many uses for these portable planters. Keep them near the patio where guests can enjoy choosing their favorites from the many kinds planted on the driftwood.
What To Look For When Buying Hen & Chicks?
As prolific as these plants are, you may never need to buy one.
If you are a member of a garden club or have friends who have them, you can probably pick up plantlets free of charge or in exchange for some plant you have in abundance.
When purchasing these plants at a nursery, check to be sure the base of the plant has no rot and there are no pests in residence.
Look for plump, firm, unblemished leaves.
Sempervivums, (chickens and hens plant), are easy to grow, “live forever” and are excellent plant choices for the new gardener. Houseleeks plants are made to order for creative planting projects allow you to discover new ways to display commonly grown plants.
Growing Hens And Chicks – Using Hen And Chicks In Your Garden
By Bonnie L Grant
Hens and chicks are members of the Sempervivum group of succulent plants. They are commonly called houseleeks and grow well indoors and out, in cool or hot temperatures. Hens and chicks plants are so called because of the rosette shape and habit of the plant to produce numerous babies. A rockery or dry, nutrient challenged location is a good place for growing hens and chicks. An easy to care for garden scheme should include hens and chicks, sedum and sprawling rock cress.
Using Hens and Chicks Plants
Hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) is an alpine plant, which gives it an amazing tolerance for poor soils and unwelcoming conditions. The mother plant is attached to the babies (or chicks) by an underground runner. The chicks may be as small as a dime and the mother can grow to the size of a small plate. Hens and chicks make excellent container plants both for the interior and exterior of the home.
Growing hens and chicks is easy. The plants are readily available in most nurseries. They require full sun and well drained, even gritty soil. Hens and chicks don’t need much fertilizer and should rarely be watered. As succulents, hens and chicks plants are accustomed to very little water. A fun project is learning how to grow hens and chicks from the offsets. The chick can be gently pulled off the mother plant and installed in a new location. Hens and chicks require very little soil and can be made to grow even in rock crevasses.
The ideal temperature for hens and chicks is between 65 and 75 F. (18-24 C.). When temperatures zoom upwards or plummet down, the plants become semi-dormant and will cease growing. Potted plants can be placed in clay pots with a cactus or succulent mix. You can also make your own with two parts topsoil, two parts sand and one part perlite. Potted plants will need more fertilizer than those in the ground. A liquid fertilizer diluted by half should be watered in during spring and summer irrigation.
You can also grow hens and chicks from seed. Online nurseries carry an amazing array of varieties and seeding your own will give you many forms for you and your friends. Seed is sown in a cactus mix and misted until evenly damp, then the seeds are kept in a warm room until germination. After germination, some fine gravel is sprinkled around the plants to help conserve moisture. Seedlings will need to be misted every few days and grown in a bright sunny window. Transplant them after they have reached an inch in diameter.
Hens and chicks plants need little care. The mother plant will die off after four to six years and should be removed. The plants produce a flower when mature and these should be pulled off the plant when they expire. Divide the chicks from the mother plant at least every two years to prevent overcrowding.