Hens and chicks are an easy and fun addition to any home garden. With just a little bit of care, you can have a continuous supply of fresh eggs (and maybe even some fluffy new friends). Here’s everything you need to know about growing and caring for hens and chicks.
Introduction to Hens and Chicks
Hens and chicks (Sempervivum spp.) are among the most popular and carefree of succulents, prized for their hardiness, interesting shape, and ease of cultivation. These flowering plants form offsets, or “chicks,” around the “hen” plant to create a dense mat. Hens and chicks grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 11.
In addition to being low-maintenance, hens and chicks are also heat- and drought-tolerant. They are content in full sun or partial shade, making them ideal for growing in areas that other plants would quickly scorch. These succulents make excellent groundcovers and can even be grown in cracks in pavement.
The Benefits of Growing Hens and Chicks
Hens and chicks are a type of succulent that is very easy to care for. They are drought tolerant and can thrive in a variety of conditions. Hens and chicks are also known as sempervivums, which means “always alive” in Latin.
There are many reasons to grow hens and chicks. They are low maintenance plants that require little water or care. They are also very tough plants that can tolerate a wide range of conditions. Hens and chicks are perfect for people who want to add some color to their garden with minimal effort.
Hens and chicks come in a wide variety of colors, including green, pink, red, purple, and even black. They can brighten up any garden or outdoor space. Hens and chicks also make great houseplants. If you have pets or small children, hens and chicks are an excellent choice because they are not poisonous.
If you are looking for a plant that is easy to care for and requires minimal effort, hens and chicks might be the perfect choice for you!
The Best Conditions for Growing Hens and Chicks
Hens and chicks (Sempervivum spp.) are succulent plants that provide year-round interest in the garden. These sun-loving plants are native to the mountains of Europe and thrive in well-drained, sandy soil. Hens and chicks are commonly grown as ornamental plants and come in a variety of colors, including shades of green, red, brown, and gray.
Hens and chicks are low-maintenance plants that are easy to grow. They can be propagated by seed or division, and will tolerate a wide range of conditions, from full sun to partial shade. Hens and chicks prefer well-drained soil and will not tolerate wet conditions. If you live in an area with heavy clay soil, consider growing your hens and chicks in raised beds or containers filled with a light, sandy potting mix.
Water your hens and chicks regularly during the summer growing season, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between watering. During the winter months, water only occasionally, just enough to keep the plants from shriveling. Fertilize your hens and chicks once or twice a year with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10.
Hens and chicks are relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but can be affected by mealybugs, aphids, slugs, and snails. Watch for these pests on new growth and treat with an appropriate insecticide if necessary. Remove any affected leaves or stems promptly to prevent the spread of disease.
How to Plant Hens and Chicks
Hens and chicks are plants that produce small, blue-green rosettes of leaves on slender stems. Each rosette grows to about 6 inches wide. The parent plant sends out runners (stolons), which produce new rosettes at the ends. When the new plants are big enough, they break away from the parent and become independent. Hens and chicks are native to Europe and Asia.
In their native habitat, these plants grow in well-drained, sandy soil in full sun. They are drought-tolerant and will go dormant (stop growing) in hot, dry weather. In cultivation, they can be grown in a wide range of soils as long as it is well-drained. They will tolerate some shade but will produce more flowers if grown in full sun.
To plant hen and chick seeds, fill a seed flat or planting tray with a mix of 50% perlite or vermiculite and 50% sphagnum peat moss. Moisten the mix thoroughly with warm water and plant the seeds ½ inch apart on the surface of the mix. Do not cover the seeds with additional mix because they need light to germinate. Place the seed flat in a bright location but out of direct sunlight until germination occurs, which usually takes 10-14 days.
Once the seedlings have emerged, you can transplant them into individual pots or cells filled with a commercial potting mix formulated for cacti and succulents. When transplanting, be careful not to damage the delicate root system. Once they are planted in their final containers, water hen and chicks sparingly until they become established (about 3 weeks). After that, water them only when the soil is dry to the touch down to a depth of 1 inch. Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering so that the roots do not become waterlogged.
In late spring or early summer, Hen and chick plants will produce tall stalks (scapes) topped with small clusters of white or pink flowers. Once flowering is finished, cut off the flower stalks so that the plant’s energy can go into producing new rosettes instead of seeds. If you want to collect hen and chick seeds for planting, wait until the flower stalks have dried up and turned brown before cutting them off. Hang them upside down in a paper bag for a week or two so that any remaining moisture can evaporate before storing them in a cool, dry place over winter
How to Care for Hens and Chicks
Hens and chicks are low-maintenance, drought-tolerant succulents that make great houseplants. They are easy to propagate and care for, and they come in a wide variety of colors and textures.
If you’re thinking about adding hens and chicks to your indoor or outdoor garden, here are a few tips to help you get started:
Choose a well-draining pot or planting bed. Hens and chicks will rot if they sit in wet soil for too long.
Add a layer of gravel or sand to the bottom of the pot to help with drainage.
Fill the pot with a high quality cactus or succulent potting mix. You can find this at most garden centers.
Water your hens and chicks regularly during the spring and summer months. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. During the winter, reduce watering to once every month or so.
Place your plants in an area that receives bright, indirect light. Hens and chicks can tolerate some direct sun, but too much will cause their leaves to scorch.
Fertilize your plants once or twice a year with a balanced cactus fertilizer. Follow the directions on the package for best results.
How to Harvest Hens and Chicks
Hens and chicks can be harvested in the fall after the blooms have faded. If you want to harvest the plant to replant elsewhere, wait until the plant is big enough to have several “chicks” or offsets. Gently dig up the entire plant and divide it into sections, making sure each section has at least one “chick” attached. Plant the divisions in prepared soil and water thoroughly.
If you’re harvesting hen and chicks for dried arrangements, do so before they bloom in the late summer or early fall. Cut stems that are 6 inches long, strip off the lower leaves and hang upside down in a dark, cool place until dry.
Troubleshooting Tips for Growing Hens and Chicks
If you’re having trouble getting your hens and chicks to thrive, check out these troubleshooting tips.
One of the most common problems is not providing enough sun. Hens and chicks need at least six hours of sun per day, so if they’re not getting enough, they won’t do well. If you live in a hotter climate, they may need even more sun. Another common problem is overwatering. Hens and chicks are drought-tolerant plants, so they don’t need a lot of water. In fact, too much water can kill them.
If your hens and chicks are wilting or turning yellow, it’s probably because they’re not getting enough water. To fix this, water them deeply and then let the soil dry out before watering again. If your hens and chicks are getting enough sun and water but still aren’t doing well, it might be because the soil is too dense or compacted. To fix this, loosen the soil with a fork or tiller before planting.
Hens and chicks are easy to grow and care for, making them a great choice for beginner gardeners. With a little patience and care, you can enjoy these beautiful plants for years to come.
3 thoughts on “How to Grow and Care for Hens and Chicks”