Hens and chicks, botanically known as sempervivum, are fun and easy to grow. Sempervivum is Latin for "live forever". They are succulents that produce clusters of rosettes. The main, larger rosettes are known as the "hens", while the smaller rosettes that spring from them are known as the "chicks". This perennial spreads in all directions by horizontal runners to form offsets (chicks). While they are grown for their foliage, they do occasionally flower. After the hen flowers, it dies, leaving the chicks room to grow. Chicks can be as small as a dime while the mother hen can grow the size of a salad plate.
About this Variety
There are 3,000 or more cultivars of sempervivum available in a range of colors, sizes, shapes and textures to keep your interest for years to come. Baby chicks are produced after the first growing season, after which they have two productive years before they flower and die. Can also be grown in containers inside or outside.
- Very hardy and can be grown almost anywhere
- Colors will change throughout the season due to the elements
- Great for containers
- Easy to grow
- Drought and heat tolerant
Full sun to partial shade
Grows 4-5" tall
Plant 6-18" apart, pressing baby rosettes gently into the ground
Grow as Perennial in zones 3-8, Grow as Annual elsewhere.
During the first few weeks of the rooting stage, keep soil damp but not wet. It is important to avoid overwatering. Once established, they are easy to grow in dry to medium moisture soils. Since they like sandy and gravelly soils, cactus or succulent soil mixtures are preferred. Succulents don't mind poor soils but do need excellent soil drainage to perform well. They tolerate some drought and shade, but prefer full sun. Succulents multiply by offsets to form colonies. Individual plants die after blooming and are best removed at that time. Cutting off the mother hen's flower stalk will not prevent it from dying. Preferred temperatures are between 65ºF and 75ºF, while much colder or much warmer will cause them to go into semi-dormancy and cease further growth. They are best divided during the spring or summer growing season when the baby chicks can be re-planted elsewhere. To plant: before planting, remove the wilted brown leaves (caused during transit) from the bottom around the base. Replace the soil up to the crown of the rosette by gently pressing the rosette into loosed soil and gently compacting the soil around it, making sure the base and the soil are making good contact. During the 2-3 week rooting period, make sure soil remains damp. During cold snaps or hot weather it may take longer as they may linger in dormancy.
Sempervivum prefer cool nights and a cold dormant season for proper growth. Sunlight brings out the colors, but when planted in the shade they tend to turn a green color. In the south, afternoon shade can actually help plant color.