Fantastic Design Plant: Hens-and-Chicks

Low-water landscapes filled with colorful succulents are still surge in popularity since architects and nurseries discover extraordinary species and hybrids. Topping the list as one of the most popular are”hens-and-chicks,” a frequent name given to two species that appear similar but are appropriate to very different climates.

This story concentrates on the cold-hardy Sempervivum spp. Native to the mountains of Central and Southern Europe, these challenging plants flourish in snowy winters and temperate climates. In case the desert landscape of the Kaufmann House is your aesthetic ideal but your climate is more like that of Pennsylvania’s Fallingwater, then literally thousands of Sempervivum spp. Are good choices for you.


Botanical name: Sempervivum spp.
Common names: Hens-and-chicks, houseleeks
USDA zones: Typically 4-9 (hardiness varies between species)
Water requirement: Small to medium
Sun requirement: Full sun
Mature size:Mature rosettes vary from 1/2″ to 6″ in diameter
Tolerances:Frost resistant, drought
Gains: Crushed leaves used medicinally to treat warts, burns and other skin irritations


Distinguishing traits. With roughly 50 species of Sempervivum currently recognized, their capacity to cross easily suggests that there are thousands of hybrids and cultivars to choose from. Their shapes and sizes range from the dense rosettes of Sempervivum tectorum to long fleshy leaves of Sempervivum‘Rubikon’.

Colors include bold chartreuse to bluish gray, deep magenta and frosty mauve. Some varieties of Sempervivum are covered with fibrous webs.

Far Out Flora

Each rosette flowers once prior to the plant dies. Luckily, Sempervivum also reproduces extremely efficiently. Throughout the creation of offsets, the first plant produces more tiny rosettes that will eventually live independently of their first plant. These offsets enable the plant to live forever — hence the title Sempervivum.


Witness the mother hens-and-chick offsets in action.

Far Out Flora

How to utilize it. Plant Sempervivum in rock planters and gardens, and in gaps between stones, boulders or on garden walls. In their native regions, Sempervivum are traditionally grown on roofs.

David Edwards

Sempervivum do good indoors or out, so for those of you with rainy winters, think about taking your Sempervivum indoors for this season. Place on a great bright window or vacant shelf for winter decoration.

Vojislav Djindjic

Keep it growing. As with most succulents, Sempervivum prefers gritty and well-drained soil and cannot tolerate overwatering.

Remove spent rosettes after flowering, and you can expect a long and maintenance-free planting.

More amazing design crops:
Snake Flower
Black Mondo Grass
Feather Reed Grass
New Zealand Wind Grass
Red Kangaroo Paw
Blue Chalk Sticks
Slipper Plant

Great layout trees:
Manzanita | Japanese Maple | Persian Ironwood | Smoke Tree | Bald Cypress | Tree Aloe

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