Hens and chickens plants are mat-forming succulents that produce clusters of rosettes. The parent rosettes are the "hens," and the smaller rosettes that spring from them are the "chicks" or "chickens."
This low-growing (4") perennial will quickly spread to 2' or more in width. Although grown for its foliage, hens and chicks do flower on a tall (1') flower stalk. The foliage of hens and chicks plants can be red, green or some mixture thereof.
Sun and Soil Requirements for Hens and Chicks: Grow hens and chicks plants in full sun to partial shade and in well-drained soil.
Care for Hens and Chicks: The "hens" will die after flowering, but by that time they will have produced numerous "chicks" or "chickens" to take their place.
To propagate, simply split off the chickens from the parent plant and transplant them. Providing contact with the soil should be sufficient for transplanting, since hens and chicks root readily.
Uses for Hens and Chicks in Landscape Design: As drought-tolerant succulents, hens and chicks plants are rock-garden perennials par excellence.
Origin of the Latin Name for Hens and Chicks: While the origin of the common names, "hens and chicks" or "hens and chickens" is apparent from the foregoing, the reader may be curious about the origin of the plant's Latin name, Sempervivum tectorum. The word for the genus, Sempervivum, is Latin for "always live," i.e., evergreen. So far, so good. But when you discover that the word for the species, tectorum, means "on roofs" in Latin, you may start scratching your head. What does this evergreen perennial have to do with roofs? Well, it turns out that hens and chicks, which are indigenous to Europe, were traditionally planted in thatched roofs. European folklore held that they were supposed to provide protection against lightning-induced fires, due to the plants' association with two gods of lightning: Thor and Zeus (Jupiter). In this case, folklore is justified, in the sense that succulents such as hens and chicks are fire-resistant and would perhaps slow down the spread of fire through thatch.