Hen and Chicks, Houseleek, Live Forever
Sempervivum 'Unicorn' is a perennial succulent up to 2 inches (5 cm) tall, that makes a large, vigorous, up to 18 inches (45 cm) wide clump of olive-green rosettes, up to to 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter. Downy leaves, flush rosy-pink shading to red tips in summer heat.
USDA hardiness zone 4a to 8a: from −30 °F (−34.4 °C) to 15 °F (−9.4 °C).
Sempervivum are not difficult to grow, provided they are not waterlogged and killed from excess watering. They can be easily grown outdoors and in containers, and they earned the name "Houseleeks" from their tendency to root on the roofs of houses. After the mother plant flowers, it will naturally die, but by this time, the plant has likely produced many offsets that will continue to grow. These are excellent for cold windows. Sempervivum earned their popular name "Hen and Chicks" from their growth habit. The mother plant, or hen, sends off numerous offsets, which will cluster around her base like chicks. These offsets can be easily repotted, or the plants can be left to form a clumping mat.
Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot a succulent, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Sempervivum
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Above: Telltale signs of a sempervivum: a rosette shape and a tiny offspring (called an offset).
Sempervivums belong to the Crassula genus, a group of succulents which has hundreds of species (including its most famous representative, the jade plant). It’s tricky to identify a Crassula just by looking at it with so many cultivars, size can range from tiny to tree-like, leaves can be pointed or rounded, and growing habit can range from creeping to branching.
Sempervivums, however, are among the easiest Crassulas to identify because they tend to grow in tight, low clumps and are shaped like rosettes. Read on for more clues.
Above: An echeveria is happier indoors in cold climates native to Mexico, it can’t withstand winter temperatures that dip below freezing.
Although echeverias and sempervivums share similar characteristics (including their rosette shapes), there are some key differences.
How to tell if you have a sempervivum or an echeveria:
Stay tuned…we’ll be covering more types of succulents in our Succulents Explained series. Next month we’ll have a post on Graptosedums.
In the meantime, we’ve got succulents covered. See more tips, tricks, and the occasional love poem devoted to our favorite succulents: