Grow a Flock of Hens and Chicks Plants
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It's the perfect succulent for a beginner gardener — but what's with the name? Here's what you should know about the hens and chicks plant.
All About Hens and Chicks Plant
Hens and chicks sports a unique moniker that might make you laugh, but it makes sense. The plant was named for the rosette shape at the plant’s center and the smaller growths sprouting from it. (Kind of like a hen and baby chicks, right?)
Hens and chicks is a particularly excellent choice for beginning succulent gardeners. Some varieties are hardy all the way down to Zone 3, embracing chilly and frosty conditions. It’ll grow in tight spaces where few other plants would dare to take root, and it’s a perfect choice for container gardens or even fairy gardens.
Psst — did you know hens and chicks is one of the best succulents to attract pollinators?
How to Grow Hens and Chicks Succulents
The botanical name for hens and chicks plant is Sempervivum tectorum.
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This succulent prefers bright light and sunny conditions, but will tolerate light shade. In the correct growing conditions, a hens and chicks plant can spread up to 20 inches wide. You’ll get plenty of bang for your buck!
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Hens and chicks doesn’t need much water at all. In fact, you’d likely be better off forgetting to water it than overwatering it. This plant needs well-draining soil. It will not do well in soggy, wet soil.
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Most types of the hens and chicks plant grow outdoors in Zones 4 to 8. Some will also grow in Zone 3, while most won’t be able to handle the heat and humidity of Zones 9 to 11. However, you can also grow them indoors as a houseplant in any zone. Place them in a container that gives them room to spread and in a location with bright sunlight.
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There isn’t a whole lot to look out for when it comes to hens and chicks. Their only weakness is mealybugs, so it’s best to keep an eye on the plants and eliminate the problem quickly if it occurs. Otherwise, mealybugs might spread to other plants in your garden.
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Hens and Chicks FAQs
Walters Gardens Inc.
Q: I can’t seem to get hens-and-chicks to grow. I have tried for several years and still fail. What can I do to keep them alive? — Birds & Blooms reader Bonnie Partridge
Garden expert Melinda Myers says, “Hens and chicks grow best in full sun and well-drained soils. Gardeners who have heavy clay and poorly drained soils struggle to keep these and other succulents alive. Try growing them in a container ﬁlled with a well-draining potting mix. When cold weather hits, move potted hens and chicks into an unheated garage or bury the pot in the ground for winter to insulate the roots against your cold temperatures.”
Q: Help! Squirrels eat all of my hens and chicks. How can I stop them? — Birds & Blooms reader Pam Davis
Melinda Meyers writes, “Many squirrels are accustomed to the smells and sounds of humans, so scaring them away from your plants is quite a challenge, but certain tactics and repellents may provide relief. Place whirligigs, clanging pans or other distracting items around the plants. Try repellents that use smell or taste to fend off squirrels. Some gardeners report success with cayenne pepper. A variety of techniques will increase the likelihood of success. If none of these ploys work for you, cover the plants with netting or a makeshift wire-mesh cage that the squirrels can’t chew through. Once they move on to new eats, you can remove the cage—just keep it handy in case they return. In the future, protect plants before the squirrels start to dine on them.”
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Where to Buy a Hens and Chicks Plant
Hens and chicks plants are available at most garden centers and online on Etsy. Some of our favorite varieties are Cosmic Candy Chick Charms red cobweb hens and chicks, and Gold Nugget (pictured above).
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