Hens and Chicks succulents are very popular, and we can see why!
They have beautiful rosettes that come in colors like red, green, blue and copper. They grow like nobody’s business and produce tons of baby plants, so it’s likely that you’ll never have to buy more than one.
They’re easy to care for and can thrive indoors or outdoors, so they’re the perfect plant for pretty much everyone!
If you want to keep your Hens and Chicks looking like spring chickens, then you’re going to need our advice! Read on to find out how to grow Hens and Chicks succulents of your very own.
Sempervivum ‘Hens and Chicks’
I bet you’re probably wondering why this plant has such a weird a name! It’s called Hens and Chicks or Hens and Chickens because it produces a lot of offsets, which are also known as chicks.
In case you didn’t know, offsets are baby succulents that sprout from mature plants. This succulent “hatches” baby chicks just like a hen does, so that’s how it got its quirky name!
Hens and Chicks plants are part of the Sempervivum genus. Sempervivum means “always living” in Latin. Sempervivum plants got this name because they sprout many offsets that live on after the mother plant dies.
Sempervivums are also called houseleeks because they used to be planted on thatched roofs to keep them from catching on fire during lightning storms. Succulents store a lot of water in their leaves, so it makes sense that they would prevent fires from spreading.
How to Care for Hens and Chicks Succulents
Hens and Chicks are native to the mountains of Europe, so they’ve adapted to cold weather and make great outdoor plants. Even though they’re tough and can withstand less than ideal conditions, there are still a few things you need to know to keep them healthy. Here are some of our best care taking tips for Hens and Chicks.
Best soil for hens and chicks
If you’ve read our other plant guides, you already know that you need to plant your succulents in well-draining soil. We talk about drainage so often because it’s super important!
If your succulent gets waterlogged, it may get mushy leaves, start to attract pests, or die from root rot. Nobody wants that!
Planting your succulent in cactus or succulent soil will prevent your plant from sitting in water and meeting an untimely end. Commercial succulent soil is a good choice because it contains porous materials like perlite and pumice that improve drainage and keep your plant nice and dry.
How to water hens and chicks succulents
Hens and Chicks don’t need very much water. Watering them every two weeks is usually enough, but watch out for signs of under watering like dry, wrinkly leaves.
The best way to water your succulent is to fill up a watering can and douse the soil until water runs out of the pot’s drainage hole. In between these deep waterings, let the plant’s soil dry out completely.
Doing this encourages your plant to develop a healthy root system because its roots will grow deeper as it searches the soil for more water. Letting the soil dry out also prevents root rot.
Hens and Chicks can handle anything from partial shade to full sun. Their fleshy leaves are a bit delicate and can burn during the hottest months of the year, so if you keep your succulent outdoors, watch out for signs of sunburn like brown, faded, or crispy leaves.
It’s a good idea to invest in some shade cloth to keep your outdoor succulents cool on hot days. You should also water your plants more frequently during hot weather to cool down the soil.
Temperature & climate
Hens and Chicks are cold hardy succulents, which means they can survive in below freezing temperatures. Even if the temperature drops to negative 40 degrees, your plant baby will still be ok.
A lot of succulents can’t handle temps like that—the water they store in their leaves freezes from the cold and make the leaves brown and mushy. Their ability to survive in cold weather is just one of the many things that makes Hens and Chicks remarkable!
Even though this succulent is hardy, it grows best in mild temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. So growing Hens and Chicks indoors is not only possible, but also good for them as long as they get enough light.
Keep them near a bright window like a south or east facing window for the best results.
Fertilizing hens and chicks
Hens and Chicks can survive in nutritionally poor soil, so you don’t absolutely need to fertilize them. You probably want your plant to grow more quickly and look more vibrant, though, so you should fertilize it once every month or two during the spring and summer.
The best fertilizer for Hens and Chicks is a low-balanced, water soluble fertilizer. Low-balanced fertilizers are more mild and have less of a chance of burning the leaves of your plant. When you’re buying a fertilizer, look for one that has three small, identical numbers on the package, like 8-8-8.
Even though you’re using a mild fertilizer, you should still dilute it to half strength. Succulents don’t need as much fertilizer as other plants, so you don’t want to give yours as much as the package calls for. Standard fertilizers generally call for 1 tablespoon of fertilizer per gallon of water, but you should only use ½ tablespoon.
Do Hens & Chicks Bloom?
Hens and Chicks flower, but right after they do, they die.
Some succulents use up all of their resources in order to produce flowers and seeds, which leaves nothing for the rest of the plant. Succulents that die after they flower are called monocarpic succulents.
Hens and Chicks flower and die after about three or four years. Your plant may flower earlier if it’s under stress from not getting enough water or sunlight. It flowers early to try and spread its seed in the hopes that the new plants will grow somewhere with better conditions. Even if you take care of your plant perfectly, though, it will eventually flower and die.
When this happens to your plant, try not to be upset! You can save the seeds from the flowers and plant them to grow brand new babies.
Plus, your main plant probably produced a lot of chicks before it died that will grow and take its place.
Growing and Propagating Hens and Chicks Plants
Hens and Chicks have no trouble growing and propagating on their own, but if you want even more plants, you can grow them from seed. You can harvest seeds from your mature plant after it flowers or purchase them online like the one and only Amazon.
There’s literally nothing you can’t buy from this place is there..?
If you’d rather not go to the trouble of growing succulents yourself (we don’t blame you), your Hens and Chicks plant will do the work for you. It produces lots of offsets that you can divide from the mother plant and put in their own pots.
Growing Hens and Chicks from Seeds
If you want to plant the seeds you just harvested, here’s how!
Grab a pot or planting tray and fill it up with some succulent or cactus soil.
With clean hands, take the seeds and place them on top of the soil. Since the seeds are so tiny, it can be hard to see where you’re putting them, so just do your best to space them out a little.
After they’re in the soil, make sure you remember to mist them with some water. Keep them moist over the next few weeks until they germinate. Give them access to plenty of sunlight and keep them in a warm room that’s between 70 and 75 degrees if you can.
It’s unlikely that all of your seeds will germinate, so keep that in mind. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out the first time… keep trying!
Hens and Chicks seeds don’t always produce new plants that look like the mature plant they came from. If you want your plant babies to retain the characteristics of your main plant, the best way to do that is by dividing offsets.
Most Hens and Chicks varieties grow offsets from a stem that’s attached to the mother plant. That stem is called a stolon. It’s best to wait until the stolon withers to replant these offsets. By the time the stolon withers, the offsets will have developed root systems of their own and have the best chance of surviving.
To separate this kind of offset, break or cut the stolon and carefully loosen the soil around the chick. Lift it up out of the soil and transplant it to a pot filled with succulent soil or a new spot in your garden. Wait a few days to water them so that they get a chance to adjust to their new environment.
There you have it! Those are all the things you need to know to become an expert Hens and Chicks gardener.
Even if you think you have a black thumb, don’t chicken out! Go buy yourself one. We know you’ll do a great job taking care of it. Happy planting!