I looked at my little "dish garden" a few days ago and I thought I was growing mini palm trees. These little plants sent up flowers over night, it seemed. Aren't they strange looking? I have them tucked into many places in my yard. I was at a garden center last week and saw hanging baskets filled with these plants and other succulents. No colorful flowers, but very interesting to look at and they would be no care at all. You could simply take the basket and put it in the garage for the winter. An idea for next year. Hens and chicks 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 perennial will quickly spread to 2' or more in width. Although grown for its foliage, hens and chicks do flower (see my picture), on a tall flower stalk. The foliage of hens and chicks plants can be red, green or some mixture thereof.
Hens and chicks can be grown in zones 3-11.
Grow hens and chicks plants in full sun to partial shade and in well-drained soil. 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. I think that people have trouble with growing these because they fuss with them too much. Just plop them in a corner of your garden and before you know it they are multiplying.
As drought-tolerant succulents, hens and chicks plants are rock-garden perennials. How nicely hens and chicks complement rock-gardens. Hens and chicks plants are also deer-resistant.
The plant's Latin name is, 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.Can't you just imagine a rooftop covered with hens and chicks. I would be in 7th heaven in a small cottage with a thatched roof covered with hens and chicks.
(I promise that I won't post about these again...I just can't stop talking about them)