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Growing Hens & Chicks

July 18, 2023
Written by The Eising Team

In this case, the plants Hens and Chicks, not the feathery friends.

Sempervivum, also known as Hens and Chicks or Houseleek, are a group of succulents that are becoming very popular in Southern Ontario. Here’s why these cold hardy perennial plants are gaining attention.

Low-maintenance

Low-maintenance is the item on everyone’s checklist, right? Hens and Chicks are known for being no-fuss. Sempervivum require very little soil, fertilizer or water. They’re sun-loving, hardy, resilient, and drought-tolerant. When you don’t have a lot of time to garden, you’ll be grateful that your Hens and Chicks need minimal care once they become established.

Versatile, and Did We Mention Low-maintenance?

Sempervivum will grow in full sun to partial shade, and average to poor soil as long as they have good drainage. They will manage just fine in poor soil and harsh conditions like heat and cold! This makes Hens and Chicks the perfect candidate for that spot in the garden where nothing else wants to grow. The spot that’s too hot, or too windy, the soil is rocky or gritty and not ideal or it’s eroding, like on a slope.

These rugged warriors can be grown on rooftops, ledges, walls, in rock gardens, hanging baskets, troughs and containers. Just make sure there are drainage holes. Too much water is their only enemy and will result in their roots rotting.

Chick Charms

While most Hens and Chicks are low-growing, 8-15 cm tall, they will all spread 30 cm and more - as much as you like, really. This is because they produce small plants, known as “chicks” or offsets around the main plant. The “Chick Charms”. Chicks can also be transplanted to start a whole new plant.

Tough and Beautiful

As a ground cover, Sempervivum can add visual interest and contrast to a border of annuals or perennials.

While they’re known for their pretty rosette-shaped clusters of foliage, you may not realize that Hens and Chicks also come in a variety of colours, and produce stunning blooms in summer.

Once a plant blooms, deadhead the flower and pull up the soft parent plant with it. The plant dies when it blooms, but new chicks will grow and replace it.

Hens and Chicks fleshy leaves make them less attractive to many garden pests and they are generally resistant to diseases. Tough plants for sure, and worthy of a spot in the garden. The next time you’re in Eising Garden Centre, we recommend that you peruse the Sempervivum section here in Simcoe and give these outstanding succulents a try!

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