planting hens and chicks

mikta(Z4 MT)July 9, 2005

I recently was given 17 hens and chicks! However, I have never grown hens and chicks so I wanted to check on growing conditions.

I was planning on planting them around the outside of my compost bin. My compost bin is made of waferboard and the soil in which I will plant them is mostly clay. Since I did some research and learned that they need good drainage, I will be laying a mixed soil on top of the clay. I am going to mix potting soil with finished compost, perlite, and "chicken grit" (fine gravel) Will this soil mix work? Do you think I will have any problems from planting them near compost?

My hens and chicks will be in full sun from about 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM in the summer. Is this enough sunlight?

Any help appreciated! Thanks for taking the time to read my questions.

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sounds like your on the right track,, they might get a bit cold in MT.. just keep a well drained soil and remember they'll send off pups so allow enough space for them.. I dont know how your compost pile is set up or works, but I'm guessing these are going to be in a container, otherwise they might get covered from overspill..?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 5:54PM
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mikta(Z4 MT)

I'm planning on bringing about 2/3 of the hens and chicks inside my heated garage during winter. That way I'll see if the outside ones survive; and if they don't, I'll have some left to replace them with.

I am going to plant my hens and chicks in the ground (not containers) But they won't get covered by overspill because my compost bins have solid 4 ft high walls and I stop filling them when they reach about 6 inches from the top.

I have measured my planting space and am planning on planting them 6 inches apart and 8 inches from the compost bin.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 6:10PM
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Sad to say i don't know alot about hen and chicks however everything i've ever heard about them tells me you are on the right track. :) I have run into a problem myself that maybe some one can answer. My mother in law just last week gave me my first couple of chicks off of her plants. The problem i'm having is a wierd one. They keep popping out of the ground! I made a little depression and placed the chick in it thinking i shouldn't bury much of it but everytime i go outside to look at it its rolled over on its side. Any ideas? Animals? What can i do to keep it in the ground?? Thanks, SunriseFairy

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 9:59AM
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mikta(Z4 MT)

the only thing I can think of is putting 3 or 4 toothpicks in the groung to support it. Just place it in between two leaves and then push them into the ground. Do you get the idea, it will be like supporting a shrub with a stake. Once the chick developes a better root system, you can remove the stakes. I did this with my cacti last year and it worked fine. What might work better than toothpicks are those sticks you make shish kabobs on, don't know what they're called. I just went to the dollar store and got a bag of party picks that were about as thick as toothpicks, but 8 inches long. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 10:09AM
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maddigger(z6 NW Arkansas)

Hi Mikta, I have hens and chicks coming out my ears so to speak. I have a huge rock with numerous holes and indentations, and I just break off a chick, trying to keep a piece of it's root and just stick it in a hole packing potting soil around it. They are easy to grow. I have stuck them in holes about an inch deep and from that they have multiplied and grown to patches six-eight inches wide with some of the individual plants 3-4 inches across. They have lived through several winters with the weather getting near zero a couple of times. My son had some in Wisconsin and never brought them in. I have a hollow root that looks like a cornucopia and stuck some dirt in it and a few chicks. It is now overflowing like a horn of plenty. They really look best when stuck in a rock or tree hollow etc. If you have any soft rock that a concrete drill bit can penetrate , drill or chip some holes and stick in a chick, water it and forget it. They are surprisingly resilient. Some of mine haave bloomed last year and this and the section with the flowers on look like cactus plants in bloom. They have become my favorite plant. I'm going to try and put a picture of my rock in the gallery section. Try being the operative word. Take care and write if you get work. Jim

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 11:26PM
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My husband and I bought a house that had hens and chicks already growing in a planter. They have thrived and multiplied many times over. Many of the plants are alive at the ends of long stems, but have large masses of dead leaves underneith. What could cause this and what should be done about it? We live in zone 6. The plnats are outside all winter as the planter is too large and heavy to move. They are covered by the edge of a porch roof. Thanks for any help, Wilmainbedrock

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 10:27AM
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I thought the dead leaves were normal. Doesn't the plant die after flowering? I thought I read that in a thread but could be wrong. I just planted some in my rock garden and it has rained for the past four days. There is no standing water so hopefully they'll be okay. I have friends that have told me they become more or less weeds in situ but still grow rapidly in planters.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 8:09PM
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The question that I have is that they (the plants with dead leaves) do not appear to be totally dead. There are good sized thriving plants at the end. Can these be picked off and replanted? They appear to be firmly rooted with the dead leaves between the live part and the root, so when I remove the dead leaves I end up with root, long naked stem, then live plant which looks kind of funny. Will picking these off (which will cut them off from their root system) kill them or will they reroot themselves? If I pick them off how much of the stem or root do I need to leave on? Or can I just take the healthy looking part? Thanks again for any and all help, wilmainbedrock

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 9:57PM
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vrie(3/4 MT)

I too live in MT- but warmer-- you know how it is here!

I have tons of hen and chicks in my yard. They literally take up at least 20 sq ft of flower borders. I have to stop them from invading! They can take it!

I have been told that the ones you buy at stores don't survive, but those "freebies" usually do. It's a matter of being acclimatized.

Some of the ones I pulled off this year (clean up time! were rooted in much less than an inch of soil on top of the edge of the sidewalk (they snuck around and under the rocks!)

Heck since they were free, what will it hurt if they don't make it! Sounds like a good idea to do the planters in the garage though!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 4:45PM
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futurenurse(z9 FL)

Hi ~

I love all things sedum...I just picked up this book because the cover was a planter of hens and chicks in a beautiful ceramic pot...something I plan on doing soon. Hens and chicks are beautiful planter plants...with the little chicks cascading down the side.

Anyway, here is the link to the cover art on

Hope that link works, if it doesn't look up "The Jewel Box Garden" by Thomas Hobbs on Amazon.

Have fun...there are many different kinds, and they are very hardy...


    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 8:26PM
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Dead leaves are normal with hen and chicks, especially in Spring. During winter lost of leaved dry and that's as ordinary with hen & chicks as flowering. You just have to keep theplant tidy by removing them, it is but hard to so when they grow close to one another.

I myself have 1.500 different sempervivum and jovibarba plants so if anyone here is looking for exchange you know where to find it!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 5:53AM
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I have some hens and chickens that have been in my family at least 100 years. My grandmother, who was born in 1890 remembers her grandmother having this plant and it was overgrown with hens and chickens back then. My mother moved north from Tennessee to Kentucky and when her mother came to live with her, the Hens and Chickens came with her. At one point, I cleaned the pot up, getting rid of dead leaves and repotting them "clean" plants in fresh soil. I made 3 strawberry jar where before they had all been crammed into the original strawberry jar. In summer they were place on the side of the back steps (the driveway went completely around the house, but in summer they were set on the lawn. Mom said they had to be in contact with the earth in order to live in winter. When Mom moved in with my sister, I brought them home in Chicago (my thumb is quite green, while my sister's is a sickly shade of brown. ) :[)
Since I in a 4th floor condo I have lost many of he original plants. Although they are said to be hardy well beyond Zone 5, I guess Mom was right about them needing to be in contact with the earth in winter. This winter I may try giving them a bit of water from time to time.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 7:25PM
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I guess there are many kinds of Hens & Chicks. I have the plain simple ones that have been around forever. Mine grow in full sun in about 1-2" of gravely soil. Never get covered in the winter and it gets -30 even -40 at times. As soon as it gets warm out and they get rain or just moisture from snow they just green up and away they go.I walk on them ,run the lawn mower over them and nothing kills them. They just keep multiplying. Give loads of them away every year.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 7:25PM
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hey! throw some in the mail to me, please! :)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:42PM
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Hey I would love to but somehowI don't think they'd get past the border.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 2:02AM
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milwdave(Zone5 Milwaukee)


I don't think so much that they have to be in contact with the soil as much as they need drainage during the spring and fall. Usually pots have a tendency to hold water in a thaw unless they are slightly elevated to keep the drainage holes open. Or tilted in some way so water does not collect around the plants. I grow most of mine in pots of some sort and I find this to be true. Those that sit flat on the patio don't survive and those that I've tilted in some way do.

Not empirical evidence but it works for me.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 9:59AM
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begood, you walk on them, and mow over them?? How is that possible without at least breaking them?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 12:59AM
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pasimachus(z4 MN)

I can add some comments since I'm in a somewhat comparable location. I moved to Minnesota from Arizona about three years ago, and have been steadily experimenting with succulents I could grow here. I have overwintered Sempervivums here in several ways. I tried them in a strawberry pot, where they grew nicely in the summer but mostly didn't make it through the winter. Last winter I had several in a flat in an unheated coldframe. This probably was the equivalent of consistent snow cover, and they came through wonderfully. Next winter I will try some in the coldframe and some out (I noticed that the local city gardens have some Semps which they cover with straw). Since they did great in my coldframe, they should be fine in Montana, particularly if you have snow cover.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 4:46PM
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Hi, I live in minnesota, all my life..I have hen and chicks I planted them just in the ground and in a rised little hill made with rocks and they do fine. I don't cover them over, put them in the garage or a cold frame..what ever leaves blow in and around them in the fall I leave and they all do fine..I've giving so many away over the years, I've lost count ....good luck with yours I wouldn't worry about them ...linda

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 8:23PM
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I bought 2 - 4" pots of hens and chicks .I died two days after planting in the ground . the other one is still in a pot. after mother plant had a beautiful flower,it died, although it is producing new babies, the babies are looking sick and week and leaves are turning brown. please help

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 6:02PM
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I have several sedums and semperviums, (and other hardy winter cacti). I plant them all the same, rocky soil, with some sand and crumbly clay, in full sun and if I can, above ground. I have several of those rock-look alike planters, that have an area etched out for some soil.I fill it with the above soil mixture and put it on an angle for added works well. It is now my third year, and the plants look great, started to break out of the soil area and cascade down the side of the rock. One nearly died this winter since the gutter overflowed and water froze on top of the rock, I just shifted it a few feet, but still lost a few that were frozen over too long.They also look great wedged in between a retaining wall and near/inside a brick walkway (lots of sand and heat), especially older ones, where weeds might poke through, I just fill with the real small semperviums. I also like them near the corners of the landscapping, say, where the driveway meets the sidewalk to fill in the cracks that eventually come up. The bushier sedums look better there, as well as aromatic thyme or phlox.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 11:10AM
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I was given some hens and chicks about 2 weeks ago. I looked them up and it said to let the root dry then plant. I did as it said but now instead of them looking like flowers they all have turned their leaves down. They look like a cup when you turn them upside down. What can I do to get them back to the way they looked before? I cant even plant them now because the leaves are lower then the root.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 9:20PM
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