Growing Hens and Chicks is an easy task for an inexperience gardener, so even if you are a beginner, these little Jewels of the Garden should still be a great pleasure to grow. I love to watch them spread and multiply. Someday I would like to have a whole extended rock garden full of them.
Hens and Chicks or Sempervivum tectorum are, first of all, outdoor plants. They are not plants that need to come indoors in winter to shelter them from the cold. They are hardy and most of them live into the lower USDA Zones 3 to 4 easily. My Ohio garden is in Zone 6 so I can grow any hardy sempervivum.
Do I Grow Hens & Chicks in Sun or Shade?
Now here is where the ease of growing Hens and Chicks really shows. They can grow in full sun or even a semi-shaded area and survive very well. They don’t need rich soil. In fact, a lean and gritty soil is best for them since they do not like to sit in water. Dampness is their enemy. In fact, they rarely need watered at all. Rain is sufficient.
Besides these rosettes of Hens and Chicks, there is another rosette in the genus called Sempervivum Heuffelii that I wrote about in this post. The biggest difference is how they propagate. If you like mats of Hens and Chicks, either of these will get you what you want.
Growing Hens and Chicks in Pots or in Ground?
First of all, both is possible. I have quite a few sempervivum growing in various hypertufa pots and I am still planting. But last year when I got a shipment of heuffelii, I planted them directly into the ground in my mulched area of the front garden. Much to my surprise, they did very well.
I wasn’t sure how they would do in rich mulch, but that area is very well-draining because it is “repeatedly mulched” each year. I will show you how well they grew.
Quite a few of my Sempervivum are blooming this year, but as one hen makes 20 or 25 chicks over several years, there are always new ones to take her place. She blooms some pretty flowers which does scatter seed (the seed is like dust). Some call that tall candlestick-like flower stalk The Rooster. See how many are in this pot?
Try these types of succulent plants and you won’t be sorry. They give you many years of enjoyment and many offsets or chicks so that there seems to be an endless supply. Just don’t overwater, let the rain take care of them.
My Mom always called them Live Forevers and that’s really what the name translates to…Semper Vivum…Always Living.
I think these are the ultimate friendship plant. I have been given some of these plants a few times in my life and it touched me so much that a person would share these with me. Maybe I am too sentimental, but some gifts come truly from the heart and are really something that you just can’t buy. Grow some and pass them along.