Sempervivum sp., Houseleeks, Hen and Chicks

Sempervivum sp.

Houseleeks, Hen and Chicks
Family: Crassulaceae
Origin: Mediterranean
USDA Zone: 3-11?
USDA Plant Hardiness MapGroundcover and low-growing 2ft plantFull sunModerate waterYellow, orange flowersRed, crimson, vinous flowersOrnamental foliageWhite, off-white flowersPink flowersSubtropical or temperate zone plant. Mature plant cold hardy at least to 30s F for a short time

Sempervivums make great groundcover. They require moderate water and generally perform best in full sun although some varieties may tolerate slightly shaded locations. They need good air circulation and free soil drainage to thrive. In terms of target soils, lean, gritty and dry soil is best as a heavier soil may become waterlogged and cause rots.

Sempervivums are frost hardy and will survive a short dip down to at least 0°C (30°F). In fact they tend to thrive in colder climates and the leaves of some varieties actually deepen in color if exposed to the cold and frost. In more vigorous climates however, some protection from excessive winter wet may assist Sempervivums to remain healthier by avoiding too much waterlogging. When growing them in a pot in a cold region, it is better to keep the pot outside as opposed to bringing it in for winter months as this can disrupt their dormancy.

When it comes to fertilizer, Sempervivums are not particularly heavy feeders and can thrive without the addition of fertilizer. The addition of a small quantity of balanced fertilizer however may improve the vigour and density of the plant.

In terms of flowers, Sempervivums flowers are always in shades of pink, white, off-white, yellow, orange and red, with tones of crimson, vinous or a darker pink and rose. These colors further expand when exposed to some periods of cold weather. The flowers of most varieties are much taller than the leaves, growing18 - 24(45 -60cm) tall. The ornamental foliage of Sempervivums lasts throughout the year and provides color, texture and can make a valuable addition to any garden.

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