Growing Houseleek/Hen And Chicks: How To Care For Sempervivum Tectorum

Sempervivum tectorum, also known as houseleeks, is a type of succulent plant that is commonly used as an ornamental plant in gardens.

These plants are native to the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia and have been cultivated for centuries for their unique appearance and ability to thrive in harsh conditions.

Growing Sempervivum TectorumPin

The name Sempervivum tectorum comes from the Latin words for “always alive” and “roof,” referring to the plant’s ability to survive in harsh conditions and its tendency to grow on roofs and other high places.

These plants are also sometimes known as hens and chicks due to their growth habit of producing numerous small offsets, or “chicks,” around the main plant, or “hen.”

This plant is so named because it was often grown on the roofs of houses in Europe to help protect against fire.

Sempervivum tectorum plants are easy to care for and make an excellent addition to any garden.

These plants tolerate a wide range of conditions, including full sun and poor soil. They are also resistant to drought and wind.

Two of the most common names for sempervivum tectorum include:

  • Houseleeks
  • Hens and chicks

Houseleeks get their name from two places.

The first is because they are often found growing on the roofs of houses. The second is because they are “always alive,” or perennial, meaning they live for more than two years.

Hens and chicks get their name from the growth habit of producing numerous offsets, or “chicks,” around the main plant, or “hen.”

Quick Facts On Sempervivum Tectorum

  • Family: Crassulaceae
  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Temperature:  50° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water: Infrequent Watering; these plants are drought tolerant.
  • Fertilizer: Balanced fertilizer once a month
  • Propagation: Seeds, offsets, or leaf cuttings
  • Common Problems: Generally resistant to pests and diseases

Sempervivum Tectorum Care

What Does The Houseleek Plant Look Like, And How Big Does It Grow?

Sempervivum plants are succulents that form rosettes of thick, fleshy leaves. 

The leaves are green with red or purple tips and can grow up to 3″ inches (7.5 cm) long. 

They produce small, yellow flowers in the summer, but the flowers are not particularly showy.

These plants stay relatively small, only growing to about 4″ inches (10 cm) tall and wide. 

They spread by producing offsets, or “pups,” which can be separated from the parent plant and transplanted to new pots or locations.

When Does Houseleek Plant Bloom? Are The Flowers Fragrant?

Sempervivum plants flower in the summer, typically in June or July.

The flowers are small and yellow and are not particularly showy or fragrant.

What Are The Lighting Needs And Temperature Requirements?

Sempervivum tectorum can tolerate a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to full shade.

However, it prefers cooler temperatures and will not do well in hot, humid climates.

If you live in an area with scorching summers, it’s best to give them some afternoon shade to prevent the leaves from getting too sunburned.

The ideal temperature range for this plant is between 50° and 70° degrees Fahrenheit.

Sempervivum is a tough plant and can handle cold weather down to -30° degrees Fahrenheit (-34° degrees Celsius).

How And When To Water And Fertilize Houseleek Plant?

As far as Sempervivum care goes, they are easy to take care of. They don’t need much water and can actually rot if overwatered.

When it comes to watering, sempervivum tectorum is very drought tolerant.

It is best to water this plant deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering.

In general, you should only water this plant every 7 to 10 days during the summer and every 2 to 3 weeks during the winter.

They go dormant in the winter, so don’t water them as much during this time. 

Fertilizing is unnecessary, but if you choose to do so, use a light, balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season.

Be sure to dilute the fertilizer according to the package directions, as too much fertilizer can burn the leaves of this plant.

What Is The Best Soil For Sempervivum Plant And When Should You Transplant?

Sempervivum tectorum does best in well-drained, sandy soil.

However, if your soil is heavy or clay-like, you can mix in some sand or grit to improve drainage.

This plant can be transplanted at any time of year, but it is best to do so in the spring.

Does Sempervivum Need Special Grooming Or Maintenance?

Sempervivum plant does not require any special grooming or maintenance. Simply remove any dead or dying leaves as needed.

How To Propagate Houseleeks Plants?

To propagate Sempervivum tectorum, here are the following steps you need to do:

  • Remove an offset from the parent plant.
  • Cut or pull the offset away from the main plant, careful not to damage the roots.
  • Allow the cut surface of the offset to callus over for a few days before planting.
  • Fill a pot with a well-draining potting mix, such as cactus mix or sand.
  • Place the offset in the pot and press it gently into the mix.
  • Water lightly, just enough to moisten the potting mix.

The offset will root in a few weeks and can be transplanted into a larger pot or the garden.

Sempervivum Tectorum Pests And Diseases

Sempervivum tectorum is generally pest and disease-free.

However, mealybugs and scale can be a problem. These pests can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

If you are growing Sempervivum tectorum indoors, keep an eye out for spider mites. 

These tiny pests can be controlled with weekly spraying of water or by using a miticide.

Diseases are not common, but Sempervivum tectorum can be susceptible to root rot if overwatered.

If you see your plant’s leaves turning yellow or wilting, check the roots. If they are mushy or black, the plant has root rot and needs to be replanted in a dryer, well-draining soil.

Suggested Uses For Houseleeks Plants

Sempervivum tectorum is a drought-tolerant plant that makes an excellent addition to any succulent garden.

It can also be planted in rock gardens, alpine gardens, or used as groundcover. This plant is also well suited for growing in containers.

It makes a great houseplant and can even be planted on green roofs!