Hens And Chicks Plant Care 101: From Chick To Flourish

Last Updated August 25, 2023 By Bella Zinti

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Hens and chicks plants are loved among succulent aficionados and gardeners for their irregularly shaped growth, vivid colors, and versatility. The bright rosettes form in the ground quickly and provide a lovely succulent carpet. They are frequently employed to elevate a garden's visual charm through their ability to offer contrasting textures, vibrant hues, and adaptability. These resilient succulent plants have a remarkable ability to endure freezing temperatures for prolonged periods.

Below, we will share a comprehensive guide to caring for and growing hens and chicks plants. We uncover some tips and secrets to successfully nurturing these charming succulents and bringing their beauty to your garden or indoor spaces.

Botanical Name

Common Name

Plant Type

Mature Size

Sun Requirement

Soil Type

Hardiness Zone

Pet Friendly

Sempervivum tectorum

Hens and chicks, houseleek, roof houseleek


3-6 in. tall, 6-12 in. wide

Full-sun, partial shade


3-8 (USDA)


What Are Hens and Chicks Plants?

Hens and chicks, also known by its scientific name Sempervivum, is a captivating and resilient succulent plant that has garnered immense popularity among both seasoned gardeners and beginners. This plant is renowned for its unique growth pattern, which consists of a "hen"– the main rosette – surrounded by smaller rosettes known as "chicks." The arrangement of the hens and chicks plants is visually appealing and serves as a natural propagation mechanism.

Hens and Chicks are distinguished by their succulent leaves, which frequently display an array of colors ranging from lively greens to rich deep reds. They thrive in well-draining soil and are well-suited for rock gardens, containers, and even cracks in stone walls due to their ability to adapt to various growing conditions. One of the most remarkable features of this plant is their hardiness, making them excellent choices for low-maintenance gardens.

Hens and chicks have the versatility to thrive in both outdoor gardens and indoor spaces as house plants. While they are often associated with outdoor rock gardens and containers, these charming succulents can thrive indoors under the right conditions.

How To Grow Hens and Chicks


Hens and Chick plants flourish in bright, indirect sunlight, ideally striking a balance between direct sun and partial shade. For indoor cultivation, position them close to a south or west-facing window to ensure they receive the appropriate sunlight exposure.

Outdoors, hens and chick plants will do well in spots that receive morning sun and filtered afternoon shade, especially in regions with full sun. If the light is too intense, the leaves might develop a reddish hue as a protective response. Conversely, inadequate light can result in elongated growth and diminished color vibrancy.


Hens and chicks, like all succulents, are more likely to die from being overwatered than underwatering. Overwatering these succulent plants can cause root rot. Remember to inspect the top inch or two of soil for dryness before you water. Do not water if the soil is still damp; instead, wait a few days before checking again.

Watering frequency largely depends on the climate, season, and growing environment. During their active growth period in spring and summer, water them when the soil's top inch (2.5 cm) feels dry. Ensure there is a drying period between waterings to avoid root rot.

Hens and chicks plants undergo a dormancy phase during the cooler fall and winter months, needing even less water. Scale back watering considerably, allowing the soil to experience more prolonged dry intervals between each watering session. Cold, damp conditions can be detrimental to these succulents, so ensuring they have proper drainage and protection from excess moisture during winter is important.

Preventing overwatering is crucial when you water your hens and chicks plants, as excess moisture can result in root rot and related problems. Employ the "soak and dry" technique: water the soil thoroughly until it's uniformly damp, not overly saturated. Remove any surplus water gathered in the saucer or pot. Be cautious not to splash water onto the leaves, as this can elevate the likelihood of fungal diseases.


Hens and chicks plants exhibit remarkable hardiness and a preference for cooler temperatures. They thrive in zones 3-8 but can survive in hotter climates with proper care. It can withstand cold weather better than extreme heat.

Throughout the active growing season, typically extending from spring to fall, temperatures in the range of 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C) are optimal. Hens and chicks plants are well-equipped to endure cold nights and even light frost, adding to their reputation as tough succulents. However, in regions with scorching summers, it's crucial to provide them with some protection from the intense midday sun to prevent sunburn.


Hens and chicks plants are well-known for their ability to adapt to low-humidity conditions. They have developed the ability to store water in their succulent leaves, allowing them to withstand periods of drought. This adaptation helps them thrive in environments where the air is relatively dry.

When cultivated indoors, hens and chicks plants generally tolerate the standard humidity levels commonly present in most households. There is usually no need to increase humidity for these plants artificially. 

However, when indoor heating systems can reduce humidity in winter, you can provide a shallow water tray near the plants to increase local humidity slightly. Be cautious not to create excessively humid conditions, leading to fungal issues.


The ideal medium for planting hens and chicks plants is sandy soil. It should have excellent drainage to prevent water from pooling around the roots and not hold on to too much moisture. An effective blend consists of a mix of regular potting soil, coarse sand, and either perlite or pumice. This blend promotes water drainage, preventing the risk of root rot.

An optimal pH range for the hens and chicks plants lies between slightly acidic to neutral, around 6.0 to 7.0. This pH level fosters nutrient absorption and supports overall plant well-being.

When planting it in outdoor gardens or containers, amend the soil in the planting area with sand or other well-draining materials to improve drainage. Raised beds, rock gardens, or areas with excellent drainage are particularly suitable for these succulents.

For indoor planting, opt for a well-draining succulent or cactus potting mix. Enhance drainage by incorporating sand, perlite, or pumice into standard potting soil. Ensure the pot is equipped with drainage holes to prevent water accumulation at the base.


Hens and chicks plants don't require heavy feeding as they can tolerate poor soils. Using a balanced, slow-release, and low-nitrogen fertilizer with beneficial soil microbes is recommended. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers can lead to excessive leaf growth at the expense of rosette formation, so opt for a formulation with a lower nitrogen content (NPK ratio with a lower first number). A general-purpose succulent or cactus fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio of around 10-10-10 or similar is suitable.

Throughout the active growth period, which generally encompasses spring to early fall, you can consider fertilizing approximately once a month. Exercise caution with fertilizer application, as succulents are sensitive to excessive nutrient levels. It's best to err on caution and provide a weaker solution than the packaging suggests.

Throughout the dormant phase in late fall and winter, there is no need for any fertilizer application. Refraining from fertilizing during this time is a good practice to mimic their natural growth cycle.

When administering fertilizer to the plant, it's crucial to dilute it in accordance with the instructions provided on the package. You can water the plants with the diluted fertilizer solution or apply it to damp soil. Avoid getting the fertilizer solution on the foliage, which can lead to burns or damage.

Hens And Chicks Plant closeup shot


Propagating hens and chicks plants is a rewarding and uncomplicated procedure that enables you to enlarge your succulent assortment or exchange these delightful plants. These succulents are well-known for their natural ability to propagate themselves, making the process even more enjoyable for plant enthusiasts.

The best time to propagate the plant falls within its active growth season, generally from spring to early fall. This is when the plants are most robust and ready to establish new growth.

Here's a step-by-step guide to successfully propagating:

Offsets (Chicks)

Hens and Chicks generate offsets, referred to as "chicks," near the base of the mother plant. These are miniature replicas of the mother plant and can be conveniently detached as new individuals once they have sprouted a few leaves and established their own root networks. Gently untwist or trim the offset from the mother plant using sanitized, sharp scissors or pruning shears.

Leaf Cuttings

Another method of propagation involves using individual leaves. Carefully pluck healthy leaves from the parent plant, ensuring they are intact and free from damage.

Give the trimmed sections a day or two to form a protective callus layer, which helps prevent rot. Then, insert the callused end of the leaf into a well-draining succulent or cactus potting mix. Maintain the soil slightly damp until new roots and rosettes begin to develop, a process that may take several weeks to months.


A division is an effective method for larger clumps of Hens and Chicks. Gently raise the entire cluster from the soil and delicately detach the rosettes from one another. Exercise carefully to avoid harming the roots or leaves. Replant the divided rosettes in well-draining soil, and they will establish themselves and grow into new individual plants.


Regularly inspect your plant for any dead, damaged, or wilted leaves. Also, check for any rosettes that are becoming overcrowded or leggy, as these might benefit from pruning.

Utilize sanitized and sharp scissors or pruning shears to safeguard the plant's sound segments. Prior to usage, sterilize the tools using rubbing alcohol to prevent disease transmission. Delicately eliminate any deceased, drooping, or discolored leaves from the rosettes' base. These leaves not only detract from the plant's appearance but can also provide a breeding ground for pests and diseases.

If your plant starts to exhibit elongated, leggy growth, it's a sign that they need more light. To promote more compact growth, you can trim these elongated rosettes. Simply cut off the leggy rosette at the base.

Potting And Repotting

Potting and repotting Sempervivum plants are crucial in maintaining these charming succulents' health and aesthetic appeal. When choosing a pot for your plant, choose one with drainage holes, and the size should be able to accommodate the current size of the plant with a bit of room for growth. You can plant hens and chicks succulents alone or with other drought-tolerant companion plants. 

Hens and Chicks don't need to be repot often. You should repot the plant every few years or when you notice the plant is outgrowing its pot.

Common Problems And Troubleshoot

Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum) are generally resilient and easy-to-care-for succulents. However, like all plants, they can encounter a few common problems worth being aware of.


Overwatering stands as a prevalent issue. Hens and chicks plants being succulents, store water in their leaves and thrive on intervals of soil drying between waterings. Overdoing water can result in root rot, yellowed leaves, and an overall debilitated appearance.


While they're drought-tolerant, completely neglecting watering can also lead to problems. Underwatered, the plant might develop shriveled leaves, and their growth could slow down.

Poor Soil Drainage

Inadequate drainage has the potential to trigger root rot and other complications. If the soil remains waterlogged for extended durations, the roots may become deprived of oxygen, resulting in the plant's deterioration. It's crucial to employ a well-draining succulent or cactus mix and confirm that the container features drainage holes. For ground planting, consider enhancing drainage by incorporating sand or gravel into the soil.


While this plant is relatively pest-resistant, it can occasionally fall prey to common succulent pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects.

Consistently examine your hens and chicks plants for indications of pests, with particular attention to the underside of leaves. Employ a mild water stream to remove pests or apply insecticidal soap or neem oil to plants affected by infestations.


Too much intense sunlight can cause sunburn, resulting in brown or white spots on the leaves. This is particularly common if you move indoor-grown Hens and Chicks outdoors without acclimating them to direct sunlight gradually.


Hens and Chicks can start to crowd and compete for space as they produce offsets or "chicks." This can lead to a weaker appearance and poor airflow. Regularly thin out crowded rosettes and provide adequate spacing between plants to encourage healthy growth.


When do Hens and Chicks flower?

Sempervivum plants are known to flower. Nonetheless, their flowering patterns can differ based on variables such as their age, cultivation environment, and the specific Sempervivum variety.

Hens and chicks plants usually flower when they are mature and have reached a certain size, which can take a few years. The exact timing can vary between different species and varieties. Once the main rosette or "hen plant" has flowered, it usually dies, leaving behind the "chicks" (offsets) to continue growing and carry on the plant's legacy.

Can you use Hens and Chicks as ground cover?

Hens and Chicks can be a beautiful and unique ground cover option, especially in rock gardens, container plantings, or areas where traditional grass might struggle to grow.

Can I grow different varieties of Hens and Chicks together?

Yes, you can mix different varieties for a visually interesting arrangement if their care requirements are similar.

Why are my Hens and Chicks not producing "chicks"?

If your Hens and Chicks are not producing offsets, it could be due to factors such as adequate sunlight, overwatering, or lack of fertilizer. Ensure they receive the right conditions and give them time to produce offsets naturally.

Do Hens and Chicks spread quickly?

Hens and Chicks will spread over time, but their rate of growth varies depending on the species and growing conditions. They generally form a dense mat of rosettes, gradually filling in the available space.

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About the author

Bella has a Bachelors degree in interior design, is a master gardener. She designs nourishing outdoor & indoor spaces guided by the practice of Feng Shui.