How to Grow Hens and Chicks Succulents

Growing hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) plants is quite simple, especially if you want a lot of them. Their offsets keep coming!

Hens and chicks 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 cutely called chicks, so it’s likely that you’ll never have to buy more than one Hen.

Sempervivum tectorum are 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 Sempervivum tectorum looking like spring chickens, then you’re going to need our advice! Find out how to grow hens and chicks of your very own.

How to Grow Hens and Chicks Succulents
Growing hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) plants is quite simple, especially if you want a lot of them. Their offsets keep coming! @joske.anoebis.goa

Hens and chicks

I bet you’re probably wondering why this plant has such a weird 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, in this case called Hen. The mother plant “hatches” baby chicks just like a hen do, so that’s how it got its quirky name!

Binomial nomenclatureSempervivum tectorum
Other namesHens and chicks, hen and chickens, hen-and-chicks, hens-and-chickens, houseleek, roof houseleek, hen-widdies
SizeThey can grow up to be up to 4 inches tall
pH6.6 to 7.5
SunFull Sun to Part Sun
ClimateCold Hardy, Winter Vegetables
Growing Locations Throughout the US
Ground Sandy, Excellent Drainage
Water Low, Drought Tolerant

Sempervivum tectorum

Hens and chicks are also called Sempervivum tectorum. Serpevivum 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. They store a lot of water in their leaves, so it makes sense that they would prevent fires from spreading.

How to care

Hens and chicks are native to the mountains of Europe, so they’ve adapted to cold weather and are considered a winter vegetable. 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 caretaking tips for hens and chicks.

The best soil

If you’ve read our other plant guides, you already know that you need to put your plants in well-draining soil. We talk about drainage so often because it’s super important!

If your sempervivum tectorum 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.

We highly recommend this soil mix by Bonsai Jack. It is one of the best soil mixes on the market. It doesn’t need to be mixed with any other soil, it helps fight root rot, perfectly pH Balanced & is pathogen-free (ie: won’t kill your plants). This soil is the go-to for our office plants. Go ahead and get the 7 Gallon Bag if you are plant nerd like us :). Pick up some of our favorite soil by clicking here: Bonsai Jack Succulent Soil.

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Last update on 2019-12-10 / Amazon

How to water

Watering your hens and chicks plants every two weeks is usually enough, but watch out for signs of under watering like dry, wrinkly leaves.

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 ground 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.

Light requirements

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 and climate

Hens and chicks are cold hardy plants, 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. Sempervivum tectorum can thrive in winters thanks to their cold-hardy attributes.

A lot of plants 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 make Hens and Chicks remarkable!

Even though this succulent is cold-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 the south or east-facing window for the best results.

Fertilizing

Hens and chicks can survive in nutritionally poor ground, 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 milder 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 and Chicks Bloom?

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 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.

Mother plant

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 from Seeds

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!

Dividing Offsets

Hens and chicks seeds don’t always produce new plants that look like the mature plant they came from. If you want your chicks to retain the characteristics of your hen, 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.

If you’d like this guide you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

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!

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