Hens and chicks, also called Sempervivum, are many gardeners all-time favorite plants to grow in containers. They are incredibly easy to grow, even total beginners will be able to have great success with them. This beautiful plant has an unusual color and 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 three which is a whopping -35 F. They are also hardy in the balmy climate of zone eight.
A critical thing to keep in mind with these succulents is that they need good drainage. While you can use regular potting soil if it's all you 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 your pot is deep enough) stick your finger into the potting mix up to the second knuckle. If the dirt is dry at your fingertip, add water until it runs out of the bottom of the pot.
You can mix a little slow-release fertilizer into your potting mix but don't worry too much about adding additional fertilizer during the growing season.
Hens and Chickens Flower
Many gardeners are unaware that hens and chicks throw off extraordinary flowers from the center of the rosettes because they can take up to three years to bloom. Unfortunately, this means 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. Stress or overcrowding can cause them to bloom earlier.
Design Suggestions for Hens and Chicks
It's hard to find a container that hens and chicks don't look good in. You can plant them in strawberry jars, clamshells, teacups or even using them as a top dressing with a larger plant works well. Because they are so drought tolerant, even the smallest container can work. Making your own succulent planter is fairly simple.
slow-release, red and purple are two favorites. You can also mix them with different succulents. Because common sempervivum varieties tend to be one of the least expensive propagate, they are often used as fillers in a mixed succulent pot, to offset the more costly plants.
You can even cram them together for a great looking pot, right from the beginning. You may want to 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.