Posted on July 13, 2016
Sempervivum tectorum, commonly known as Hens-and-chicks are a large group of plants from the Crassulaceae family. Most are native to parts of Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. Characterized by fleshy leaves that form low-growing rosettes, with the larger parent plant (the 'hen') surrounded by smaller offsets (the 'chicks'.)
Popular in rock gardens and as a ground cover, these plants enjoy well-drained conditions and a coarse soil containing gravel or sand. There are a vast number of species and many can tolerate harsh winters. Gardeners like them because there is a great number of leaf forms and colors and they are easy to care for. The common name 'roof house leek' derives from the ancient practice of planting them on the thatched roofs of houses to ward off fires caused by lightning and were associated with the gods of lightning in several cultures.
Popular as pass-along-plants because division is easy. Gardeners can share with friends by simply breaking off a few of the smaller 'chicks.' Plant the offsets by pressing them into the soil and watering lightly. They will soon take root and begin producing 'chicks' of their own.
Type of plant: Alpines and Rock Gardens
Bloom color: Pink, White/Near White
Bloom time of year: Late Spring/Early Summer, Mid Summer
Sun requirements: Full Sun
Cold hardiness: Zone 3b to Zone 11
Height: under 6 in. (15 cm)
Spacing: 3-6 in. (7-15 cm), 6-9 in. (15-22 cm), 9-12 in. (22-30 cm)