How to Care for Sempervivum tectorum

Written by tanya lee
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How to Care for Sempervivum tectorum
Hens and chicks are low-maintenance, drought-tolerant succulents. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Sempervivum tectorum, also called hen and chicks, houseleeks, or roof house leeks, is a low-growing evergreen succulent with red, silver, green or blue-green leaves. From the Latin, "Semper" means always and "vivum" means life. Sempervivum is indeed a plant that seems to live forever. The "hen," a single rosette, produces tiny rosettes, referred to as "chicks." The chicks surround the hen in a tight formation. Each rosette flowers only once and then dies.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Trowel
  • Sand
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Plant Sempervivum tectorum outside in sun to partial shade. These specimens are perfect for rock gardens or sandy banks. An excellent growing medium for Sempervivum consists of 1/3 soil, 1/3 pumice, and 1/3 sand. The most important factor with this succulent is drainage. The soil must be well-drained to prevent root rot.

  2. 2

    Place rosettes 10 to 12 inches apart to leave room for the chicks to grow. Water when you plant or transplant a Sempervivum tectorum, then do not water again for five to seven days.

  3. 3

    Replace the rosettes after they flower, which they will do in about three years. The plant will send up a flower stalk and produce purplish to reddish-pink flowers, usually in midsummer. Once it has flowered, the rosette will die. In the wild, this would eventually result in a 12- to 18-inch ring of live Sempervivum tectorum around a circle of dead rosettes. To avoid this, dig out the rosettes after they die. Plant a new rosette in the space, or wait for baby plants to fill in the space.

  4. 4

    Water Sempervivum tectorum rarely -- remember, it is a succulent, a desert plant. Sempervivum tectorum will grow on its own as long as you avoid overwatering and overfertilizing (fertilise with a quality cactus fertiliser in early spring). The plant is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 8.

  5. 5

    Prevent crown rot and the fungus Endophyllum rust by not overwatering.

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