How To Grow Hens and Chick in Pots

  • 01 of 03

    How To Grow Hens and Chicks in Pots

    blue Houseleek
    wulingyun/Moment Open/Getty Images

    Hens and chicks also called Sempervivum or hens and chickens are some of my all-time favorite plants to grow in containers. They are incredibly easy--even total beginners will be able to have great success with them. They are beautiful and interesting in color as well as texture.

    Hens and chicks are also very shallow-rooted, which means you can grow them in very small, miniature or shallow containers. They are drought and neglect tolerant to the extreme and are also cold hardy to zone 3--a...MORE whopping -35 F. They are also hardy in the balmy climate of zone 8.

    One of the most critical things to keep in mind is that these plants need good drainage. While I often use regular potting soil if it's all I have around, a mix specifically designed for succulents and cactus is even better. Make sure your pot has sufficient holes in the bottom so that excess water can escape (unless you can make sure not to overwater). Only add water once the soil has dried out below the surface. To test the moisture in the soil (if you pot is deep enough) stick your finger into the potting mix up to the second knuckle. If the soil is dry at your finger tip, add water until it runs out of the bottom of the pot.

    I mix a little slow release fertilizer into my potting mix but then don't worry too much about adding additional fertilizer during the growing season.

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  • 02 of 03

    Hens and Chickens Flower

    Houseleek -Sempervivum grandiflorum-, flowering
    Siegfried Grassegger/Creative RF/Getty Images

    Hens and chicks throw off extraordinary flowers from the center of the rosettes. It means, however, that after the bloom is past, the rosette will then die. The good news is that it is very easy to fill in the hole left by the plant.

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  • 03 of 03

    Design Suggestions for Hens and Chicks

    Hens and chicks
    ZenShui/Michele Constantini/Getty Images

    I have yet to find a container that hens and chicks don't look good in. Plant them in strawberry jars, clamshells, tea cups or even using them as a topdressing with a larger plant works well. Because they are so drought tolerant, even the smallest container can work. 

    I try to use many sizes and often mix different varieties--red and purple are two of my favorites. I also like to mix them with different succulents. Because common sempervivum varieties tend to one of the least expensive...MORE succulents, I often use them as fillers, in a mixed succulent pot, to set off the more costly plants.  

    My advice is to cram them together for a great looking pot, right from the beginning. I also pull off the babies and put them in other pots, if things start looking too wild and wooly, though when the chicks start draping over the side of a cup or pot, it can look great.

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