Growing Sempervivum (Hens-and-Chickens, Mother of Thousands)

Latin Name Pronunciation: sem-per-vie'vum  

CULTURE: Sempervivum plants need full sun. Plants prefer average to rather poor, sandy or rocky soil, which must drain quickly. Do not fertilize. Space 6" apart. Plants have few problems except when soil is too heavy or too damp. In Europe, plants are often grown tucked into corners of rooftops, without the benefit of any soil at all. That led to another common name, Houseleeks.

SUGGESTED USE: In rock gardens, trough gardens, wall crevices, dry gardens, edging, in strawberry jars or other containers.

"Sempervivum" means "lives forever," which plants seem to do under the correct conditions. The original rosette of leaves dies after it flowers, two, three, or more years after planting. But by then, new offsets are already there to take the place of the mother plant. "Hens and Chickens" refers to the fact that a mature clump reminds one of a hen surrounded by her chicks.

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