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Hen and Chicks are interesting, low-maintenance perennial plants that are rarely troubled by pests. They make wonderful houseplants, yet because they grow best in poor soil conditions, they are also suitable to almost any outdoor garden environment - especially the rock garden. Here's what you need to know to start growing them.
Not everyone looks at these self-perpetuating plants and sees a central hen surrounded by tiny peeping chicks, but nonetheless, they are fascinating. There are over 100 species of them, all of which form low, succulent rosettes of leaves. Some varieties grow only a couple of inches wide, while others spread into mats several feet across.
The leaves may come in a multitude of shades from gray to green to burgundy, many with edges tipped in bright red, pink, purple, or even black. A few hairy varieties look as though a spider has spun its web over the top of the plants.
Hen and chick's botanical name "Senpervivum tectorum", is more logical (and interesting). In Latin, Senpervivium means "always live" (i.e. evergreen) and tectorum means "on roofs". These plants are native to southern Europe, where they were (and still are) grown tucked into the corners of rooftops on Roman houses (without any soil) to hold the slate tiles in place.
This explains the origin of their other common name "houseleeks." In the days when thatched roofs were common, houseleeks were thought to protect houses from lightening and subsequent fires. This idea isn't far-fetched given their succulent nature. Today, some green roofs are planted with these small plants to prevent runoff of rainwater, insulate the building, and encourage energy conservation.
Hens and chicks are readily available at garden centers in the spring. They are often sold featuring several different varieties within the same container. When setting out new plants, grow them at the same depth they grew in the pots.
Contact with the soil should be sufficient for transplanting since hens and chicks root readily. Space plants 4 to 6 inches apart to start (large rosettes will require more room). If you misjudge the spacing and your chickens become overcrowded, don't worry! They are easy to divide.
Unlike most perennials, hens and chicks can be divided at any time during the growing season. As tiny new plants (chicks) appear in a circle around the mother plant (hen), divide existing clumps by separating the rosettes and replanting them (the chicks will have their own roots).
To transplant, just press the "chicks" gently into the soil in a new location. As the mother "hen" dies out, young "chicks' take its place and perpetuate a new crop.
Hens and chicks thrive in hot, dry locations where other plants fail. They are ideal for rock gardens, trough gardens, edging borders, and wall crevices. They also grow well in containers. Once established, hens and chicks are extremely drought-tolerant. And while they make interesting ground covers, they will not tolerate any foot traffic.
There are two other perennials that so closely resemble hens and chicks in both appearance and growing needs that you will probably only notice the difference when they are in bloom.
Thanks so much for this advice. I bought some of these plants in Croatia and transported them to France, with no idea about their name. I just like the look of them. Now they are starting a second year in my very tiny rock garden and they look wonderful. Two have sprouted up about 3-4 inches, and I actually worried if this was bad news, as I am not a very successful gardener. So I am encouraged by your information and will love them even more.
This is a guide about transplanting hens and chicks. It is very easy to divide and transplant these succulents.
This isn't a question but some info on hens and chicks. I was looking for info about when hens and chicks flower. I found a lot of questions here but no sure answers as to when and how.
I found that they flower when they mature at around 3-4 yrs old. This is the site where I found the info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hen_and_chicks. Hope it helps someone!
Hardiness Zone: 7a
By mfedukovich from Southern WV
Actually they flower when they become crowded. Some types of H&C's crowd faster than others. The one's (green with red/maroon tips) I have flowered in 2 years because of the fast rate of their growth! When very crowded the "hen" will flower and then die leaving the extra room for the babies to spread and become hens themselves and the cycle continues.
I have another variety that remains purple year round and in the 4 years that I've had it it has only sent out a few babies and is hardly crowded and no flowers yet.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
Can I grow them in the full shade?
No, not in full shade. They need partial to full sun.
From gardeningknowhow.com 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 dont need much fertilizer and should rarely be watered. As succulents, hens and chicks plants are accustomed to very little water.
Read more at Gardening Know How: Growing Hens And Chicks Using Hen And Chicks In Your Garden https://www.gar s-and-chicks.htm
Hens and Chicks will turn very pale green if grown in the shade and may eventually die but they can grow well if they even receive a few hours of sunshine.
If all you have is shade then why not try your hand at growing them indoors?
Here is a very good site that may help you:
I have a house plant looks like a hen and chicks, but as it opens it has like cotton that spreads across it. I think it is called a spiderweb welock, but it seems to be slowly dying. I am not sure how to take care of it; I have tried everything.
By Ray from Fort Wayne, IN
I sounds like a fungus to me. Is it getting enough air circulation? Sometimes, they will get a fungus without proper air.
Take it outside and give it a good washing. Not the soil as too much water might kill it. Just a thought. Best of luck. I looked and looked online for an answer but to no avail.
I had the same thing that happened to my bottlebrush succulent (native to Africa), I dipped the pointed part of a bamboo skewer into 1/4 cup water with a drop of dish soap and carefully pick the cottony pest, it becomes stringy when you remove it and it seems to control the pest whatever its name is. But if caught in advanced stage, may not work anymore.
Is the web part of the plant? Some Hen & Chicks are naturally webby. If so, leave it alone and enjoy! Do be careful not to overwater, too.
Ditto. I had mine a number of years and they've only bloomed a handful of times.
Mine have flowered, not every year, perhaps every 3 years. I also noticed that after flowering I soon have a multitude of chicks.....nature at its best!!
Yeah, one of mine flowered this year, too. Isn't it is pretty? I'm sending a picture...
I got some hens and chicks last year. Now they look all brown and withered. When do they come back?
Would hen and chicks thrive in Tucson Arizona? My sister has many different varieties of cacti spread around her acre of land.
I was thinking of hen and chicks up close to the house for her to enjoy without walking too far, or even out the window. Thank you.
There is a white substance on my hen and chicks. I was wondering if they are mealy bugs and if dish detergent and water spray will stop the spread?
By Sandra T from West Chester, PA
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We had an early morning spring shower that left the Hen and Chicks with droplets of water. When the sun hit them, they shimmered like diamonds.
There are several Hen and Chick plants out on "The Path Garden" all of them looked so pretty that morning.
By Great Granny Vi from Moorpark, CA
Succulent garden I started in the fall as an experiment. I'm really pleased with the growth in only six months
By Wanda from Climax, NC
That is beautiful! How did you get the "hens and chicks" to multiply so rapidly? I have one hen and one chick and they seem to just be sitting there, except that the chick seems to be getting a little larger. I want the hen to send out more chicks, but don't know how to get it done. If you have the secret, please let me know! Ha! Thanks for sharing and God bless you.
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By Paula from Portugal