Transplanting Chicks

cannacrazy(8 SC)June 30, 2008

This is my first year to have a rock garden but it has quickly become one of my favorites. Both of the hens in this garden were doing quite well until about a week ago when one of the hens suddenly died. I tried transplanting a chick but I must have done something wrong because it didn't make it. Now I'm trying to transplant a chick from my other hen but I'm worried that I'll lose this one, too. Can anybody give me some advice on transplanting chicks? The one I lost, I actually planted in the dirt but I read a post somewhere about just placing the chicks on top of the dirt? Please help!

Susan

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omniphasic(9 Ca)

It's important to let the cut heal before planting them on.
Do your cuttings,and let the cut portion dry for about a week before transplanting.I always use fine gravel on top of the soil I'm planting them in,and just stick the 'chicks'right in.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 1:08AM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

So where would you safely store the chicks while waiting for the cuts to heal? Would you leave them in the sun? Do they continue to get a bit of water during that week? How much of the stem do you leave attached when putting them in the soil? Are there usually roots starting by the end of that week? I know...so many questions, but I'm really trying to do this right! Thanks so much for your help!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 11:24AM
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bamaud

You can just leave the chicks on a counter or windowsill. I would keep them out of direct sunlight, though. They shouldn't need any care during that time.

I've read that it's best to cut as much of the stem off as possible, to encourage root growth underneath the rosette. Usually, I don't think that roots will being to grow when they are drying out. Roots start to grow when they are in their growing medium.

-Ben

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 6:54PM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

Thanks Ben. I didn't know about taking off the stem. I planted the first set of chicks--stem and all--and they died pretty quickly. I'm worried that they're getting too much water? We've been very dry in SC for months so the only water they've been getting is from a sprinkler three times a week. All the other plants--Black Jack Sedum included--are doing very well but I've already lost another hen. Of course we had rain a few days ago and the second hen died shortly thereafter. I've saved two more chicks and we'll see how they do. Is there any rule of thumb about water for these plants? I'm very frustrated! Maybe I should try more sand in my planter?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 12:32AM
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bamaud

I've found that with these plants water is not at all needed, for the most part. I grow mine in small nooks in rocks with a small amount of soil, and they don't ever get any water from me. I've also read that they can easily survive three months without water in incredibly poor soil, and I don't find that too surprising. They are technically succulents. So it seems that you may indeed be giving them too much water.

Are your hens and chicks turning mushy when they die?

-Ben

Here is a link that might be useful: The Sempervivum Page; it has some interesting info

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 10:53AM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

Yes, they are turning mushy when they die. And it's always very sudden. For two months they did great with my program and then suddenly everything turned sour and I've lost two hens in just a couple of weeks. I've been mixing my sandy soil with mushroom compost. Maybe they would like it better in just the sandy soil? Certainly it's better drainage.
Susan

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 4:40PM
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bamaud

I would think that they might like it better in the sandy soil, with a lot less water. You're right in that they like good drainage. Mushy plants usually indicate (at least with succulents) that they are receiving too much water.

These plants can take a crud load of neglect, so they don't really need all that much help to grow.

-Ben

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 5:25PM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

Thanks, Ben, you've been a wealth of knowledge. I also appreciate the link to the Sempervivum page. I'm thinking it may be best to create a new rock garden with just hens and chicks and plant them all in a heavier mix of sand. Do you mix any other plants with your hens and chicks? Have you tried planting in a strawberry jar? I'm really loving these plants but I've got to learn to be less fussy and just let them grow!
Susan

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:34PM
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bamaud

Yup, no problem.

I grow some Sedum in the same way as I grow my Semps, which is just in a hole in a rock. I haven't tried a strawberry jar yet, but I've seen some really small ones that I'd like to try out.

-Ben

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 4:02PM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

Cool! What a great picture! Makes me wish I had some rocks instead of all this sand! Tell me...if they get too much water and start turning dark, can they be saved? And, Sedums like it just as dry as the Semps? I'm a little worried that my Black Jack Sedum may have gotten too much water from the rain we had recently. The leaves are the first sign of overwatering, right? How can you tell when the leaves are a dark purple color?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 4:44PM
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bamaud

Thanks. My other passion I guess you could say is photography.

I personally don't really know if they can be saved once they are mushy; you can try and see. I would say "no", but I've never tried so I dunno.

The Sedums I grow are the really tiny kinds. I looked up yours and it looks like another kind that I have that is much larger. I think your kind can be grown as a regular garden plant, although since it has fleshy leaves, it can withstand drought. I'm not 100% sure about that, although the larger Sedums I have that look like yours are in a wetter part of the garden with some hostas and seem to do ok.

I think leaves are usually the first sign of over-watering, although as you said it happens rather suddenly and maybe too late. Usually only smaller plants turn mushy when over-watered; I don't think your Sedum 'Black Jack' will do that. I think it can withstand more water than Semps. Sedum can be grown very dry, and they don't seem to care, although I am referring to the smaller kinds that I have. I really am not sure about the larger types. Sedum is a huge genus, although they are usually very forgiving and very hardy.

-Ben

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 8:46PM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

Most of my gardening experience is with tropicals and I have a sun garden full of cannas, cone flowers, asiatic lillies, and salvia. They seem to be well suited to the hot and humid weather in SC. This is my first year to experiment with succulents like semps and sedums. I started with a planter and made the Black Jack my centerpiece with a variety of smaller sedums surrounding it but the hens and chicks are my favorites by far! I potted up everything and put it in the full sun where it got a sprinkle of water three times a week. All the plants did well for about 3 months and then I lost the first hen. Now I've lost another hen and several chicks. I've got three more hens and chicks--the arachnoideum variety--that I planted in my sun garden and they're doing great in the sandy soil. The problem is that they don't seem to fit with the tropical theme. Any ideas how I can incorporate the two so they can co-habitate in an area I know they'll thrive in?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 1:00AM
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littleplantjewels

I have read about your problems and I have a question for Ben. I had 2 chickes die this week one was waiting in potting soil to grow roots and it got to much water. I understand that but the other one "brownie" dried up . Have you ever had that happen??

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 7:20AM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

I think what's key to transplanting is allowing your chicks to dry for several days before putting them into your potting soil. I left just a small bit of stem below the base of the chicks and let them "sit" on my kitchen window sill for a few days. After that, I put them into some dampened soil and let them have a bit of sun. They're rooting--slowly--but they're getting there. I water maybe once a week. Let's see if Ben or someone else has something to add.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 12:45AM
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bamaud

littleplantjewels, do ya mean the whole plant just dried up? What were the soil conditions like? Dry or wet? The only time I've had a semp dry up is after leaving it on a windowsill without soil for several months, and the leaves started to shrivel and dry.

-Ben

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 11:21PM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

I found one of my chicks laying on the ground next to my planter. It had probably been there for weeks and was still green. I stuck it in some dirt and it's trying to root. Is it my imagination or do the chicks root better when there's a bit of stem left attached to the base?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 11:36PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

A few things:
---- You are probably experiencing more problems now compared to before because of the higher humidity of summer. Most semps in their native environment are actual alpine or subalpine. Sun is intense, but air is dry, always windy, drainage perfect, soil poor to non-existant, rainfall can vary.

---- Alpines in the mountains do most of there growing in the spring months. You will find that propagation is generally more carefree than, although for semps it can be done throughout the summer (and perhaps winter in warm climates.)

---- Stems on, stems off - I don't think it makes a difference. I have never seen roots grow from anywhere except directly under the rosette of leaves. Myself, I leave the stem on because it helps anchor the new plant.

---- Maybe you are not waiting long enough before you remove chicks. Most of the time, if the chicks are still shaped like balls, it too early for surgery. And it stands to reason that the larger the pup, the less fuss.

---- I have never bothered letting cut surfaces dry with semps like I do with cactus. When I remove chicks, they usually already have some kind of root apendages already there. Why would I want them to dry out completely? However I will say that sometimes I will plant a chick and purposely not water it for a couple days.

---- Of course, drainage is paramount. I grow my semps in pots and troughs. When I plant new chicks, they are in a sandy mix, at the surface. Watering could easily dislodge them. I put a layer of small gravel (pea size or smaller)over them so they are just peaking through. That stablizes them and give some temporary shade so roots grow easier. It's quite remarkable how they seem to pop through the gravel when they begin to grow.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:10PM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

That is very good advice, Leftwood. Thanks! I'm trying the pea gravel in my little starter pot to see if it speeds the rooting process. Do you have a rule of thumb for watering? I may be letting mine go too long, but they love it dry so how do you tell when it's time for a drink?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 2:59AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

My semps are in sandy free draining soil, without much water holding capacity compared to rich soils with peat in them that you would plant flowers in. I am a propagation maniac with all sorts of things from cactus to impatiens to woody plants and conifers. My semps get watered two out of three times that I water everything else.

When I first transplant new chicks, they stay in mostly shade for the first week or two. They will avisibly start growing if they are taking root, a sign that you can give them more sun. Some can be a bit more pokey, and they stay in the shade longer.

In case there is some question, when I said: I put a layer of small gravel (pea size or smaller)over them so they are just peaking through., I didn't mean necessarily a single layer of pebbles. Use however many it takes so the chicks just peak out.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 10:13PM
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