Posted by Jessie Jacobson on Jan 1st 2024

Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks) 

Colorful striking rosettes, easy to grow, and offering interesting texture, Sempervivum tectorum, commonly referred to as Hens and Chicks, is an attention-getting, steadfast succulent for Minnesota gardens. A member of the Crassulaceae succulent family, Hens and Chicks lives up to its genus name which in Latin means ‘forever alive’ as it can survive poorer soils, hillsides, and tolerate drought.

Native to parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, Hens and Chicks grows low to the ground preferring full to part sun and any soil that provides good drainage. They flourish in areas where the nights are cool and where they can go dormant for the winter. They are prolific reproducers sending offsets or young chicks on long stolons (horizontal plant stems) quickly multiplying and filling space. Sempervivum tectorum seems to do well in areas where other plants may struggle such as rock gardens and indoor terrariums. While fertilizing is not required, Hens and chicks will benefit from a low nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote.


Sempervivum tectorum are made up of 1 to 3 inch thick, pointed leaves that cluster tightly to form exquisite, vibrantly colored rosettes in shades of green, pink, purple, and burgundy. Often the leaves will have fine hairs of a contrasting color. The star-shaped flower pushes up from the center of the plant on a stalk that can grow up to 1 foot tall. This plant is monocarpic, meaning it flowers just once, then dies. While the flowering rosette will die, the plant will live on through the offsets (chicks) and the reproducing seeds of the flower allowing the plant to live on. Some Tonkadale favorite varieties include Sempervivum tectorum ‘Neon’, ‘Oddity’, ‘Red Rubin’, and ‘Pacific Blue Ice’.


Happy planting. See you at Tonkadale.