The sempervivum heuffelii, sometimes known as Jovibarba heuffelii, Job’s beard succulent, hen and chicks, or just houseleeks, is one of the most common types of houseplants you’ll find in homes around the world. These charming little succulents are easy to grow and propagate, making them good options if you don’t have a green thumb but want to add something beautiful to your home that requires little upkeep.
Sempervivum heuffelii are small succulents with rosettes of thick and fleshy leaves that grow naturally in the Mediterranean region of Europe. These succulents can be propagated by both stem cuttings and seeds, and are often used as groundcover in xeriscapes or rock gardens to add vibrant color during the late fall and winter months.
Over the past century, green thumbs all over the world have become familiar with Sempervivum heuffelii, or hen and chicks. These pretty flowering succulents are easy to grow and propagate, making them perfect for beginners and experienced gardeners alike. If you’re thinking of growing your own hen and chicks, it’s important to learn about their care and propagation tips first.
Below are some tips on how to care for sempervivum heuffelii plants and propagate them in case you want to start your own collection.
Origin and distribution
Sempervivum heuffelii is a succulent, from the Crassulaceae family, found in coastal regions of England, Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany. The name sempervivum is Latin for live forever or eternal life. With its tightly-clustered rosettes, Sempervivum heuffelii resembles little miniature versions of a classic Christmas wreath.
In terms of ease of care, Sempervivum heuffelii is considered to be one of the easiest houseplants to grow. It’s also one of the most popular because it thrives under less than ideal conditions such as low light and infrequent watering. This makes it an excellent choice for people who have trouble keeping plants alive.
Sempervivum heuffelii propagation
In many cases, you can simply remove offshoots or pups from a parent plant. In some instances, pups may be too young to pull away easily. If that’s your case, carefully pinch them with a pair of shears to loosen their connection to the mother plant. Once you’ve separated them, place them in a container filled with moist soil—the amount of which depends on how big they are—and keep them damp until they start growing again.
If you don’t want to wait for new growth, consider taking cuttings instead. To do so, use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut into healthy stems at an angle just below a node (where leaves emerge). Place each cutting into its own pot containing moist soil; water well; and place in indirect sunlight until roots begin to form. When roots have grown sufficiently, transplant them into larger pots before placing them outside during warm months.
Sempervivum heuffelii care information
Sempervivum heuffelii, also known as houseleeks or hen-and-chicks, are easy to grow succulents. In their native habitat in Central Asia, they grow on rocks and other semidry places with plenty of sun exposure, although they can tolerate more shade than many succulents.
They’re often used as a ground cover because of their low growth habit. Like most succulents, these plants need very little care to thrive. However, there are some important things you should know about caring for them if you want your plants to live long and healthy lives.
Sempervivum heuffelii are succulents that prefer to grow in partial sunlight. Placing them in a brightly lit area will result in excess moisture loss, leaving your plants vulnerable to rot. The ideal growing location for sempervivum heuffelii is near a south-facing window where they receive around four hours of indirect light each day.
Sempervivum heuffelii prefers to be planted in open, well-drained soil. Choose a mixture of sand, humus, loam, and peat moss that drains well. The top layer should not be more than 1 inch deep. These succulents grow best when planted in clay pots or containers that don’t have drainage holes. They are most often grown outdoors in rock gardens or alpine house settings, but can also be placed on windowsills indoors.
In either case, make sure to keep your plant in well-drained soil, with plenty of drainage holes at its base. You can also use an organic potting mix, like Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix. It contains worm castings and other nutrients that are good for your plants.
Sempervivum heuffelii is a succulent plant native to Europe, which means it’s accustomed to cool, wet winters. Watering every two weeks or so during the summer months will keep your semps in good shape. They are also known for their ability to store water in their rosettes; however, you shouldn’t rely on them to survive long periods of drought. Even though they come from arid climates, they are happiest with moist soil year-round.
These plants are very hardy but require adequate water to stay healthy.
Use a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer to supply nutrients for healthy plant growth. Avoid overfertilizing your sempervivum plant as it could lead to an imbalance of elements in your soil. Apply a layer of mulch around your sempervivum plants to help maintain even moisture levels in soil throughout your region’s growing season.
Sempervivum heuffelii needs cool to moderate temperatures to thrive. It grows best when temperatures range from 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit (16-18 degrees C) during the winter dormancy to 75-80 degrees F (24-27 degrees C) during the summer growing season. If you live in a particularly cold climate, grow Sempervivum heuffelii in an unheated basement or inside a house that is not air-conditioned.
Sempervivum heuffelii are drought tolerant but grow best when planted in an area that is constantly moist. They thrive with humidity levels of up to 90 percent, so misting them daily is a good idea for maintaining optimal conditions. Even though you want to provide a lot of moisture, keep your semps from sitting in water—this can damage their fleshy roots. Water well with rainwater or filtered water to avoid the buildup of minerals or chemicals that could damage plant tissue.
Like many succulents, Sempervivum heuffelii has a propensity for forming dense colonies. Pruning is an important part of garden maintenance. Unlike most woody plants, however, Sempervivum heuffelii doesn’t need to be cut back significantly each year—just a little judicious pruning will keep your colony healthy and vigorous.
To remove dead or dying leaves, simply snip them off at ground level with scissors or shears. If you want to trim away some of your plant’s excess growth, use sharp secateurs to make clean cuts at a 45-degree angle just above a leaf node (the place where new leaves emerge).
Be sure not to cut into any live tissue; you should see white sap oozing from the wound if you have nicked any live veins. Cutting too close to a leaf node can kill that portion of your plant, so err on the side of caution when making these cuts.
When to repot
Repot in spring just before new growth begins. Don’t water for a week before repotting, so that all excess moisture is drawn out of existing roots. After re-potting, keep the plant cool but above freezing (in any season) until new root formation has taken place. Be sure to keep the pot well-drained.
Unlike many other succulents, Sempervivum heuffelii does not go dormant in low light or cold temperatures. It can survive for long periods of time without water, so it’s important to keep it indoors where it will have a consistent supply of light, especially if you live in a climate with cold winters.
If your home has very bright windows but no direct sunlight, place your plant near them. If it gets too much sun, however, its leaves may turn yellow or white and fall off; if that happens, move it away from direct sunlight until new growth appears.
Flowers & Fragrance
Sempervivum heuffelii produces bright, lemon-yellow flowers on leafless stalks. The species is known for producing a sweet fragrance reminiscent of citrus fruits. And it can add color to containers year-round in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8!
Sempervivum heuffelii is typically a very slow-growing succulent. It requires very little in terms of care, making it perfect for those who want to add an interesting piece to their collection that doesn’t require daily maintenance. Slow growth also means less frequent propagation will be necessary to maintain your collection. Repot plants only when you can see that there is no more room for growth at their current size.
Sempervivum heuffelii is toxic to humans, therefore it should be planted in places inaccessible to children. The milky juice from crushed leaves can cause skin irritation, eye problems, or even death in severe cases.
As with all potentially toxic plants, there are many reported cases of poisoning from ingesting parts of Sempervivum heuffelii. Usually, symptoms include mild stomach upset with vomiting. Though there have been some reports of more serious effects as well, none have been confirmed.
USDA Hardiness Zones
Sempervivum heuffelii thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9. This makes it a versatile plant that can be grown as an indoor or outdoor specimen. When grown indoors, sempervivum heuffelii requires bright light, but not direct sunlight.
It also needs to be kept away from drafts and cold air, which can cause leaf damage. When grown outdoors, sempervivum heuffelii prefers partial shade with well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.
Pests and diseases
While Sempervivum heuffelii is generally pest-free, you may still notice it is affected by aphids, scale insects, or other plant-sucking pests. If so, treat them like you would any other houseplant.
You can also treat Sempervivum heuffelii with a horticultural oil spray if its leaves appear to be yellowing. This is a sign that your plant isn’t getting enough light; if you suspect low light levels are causing your succulent’s yellowing leaves, try moving it closer to a window or supplementing with artificial lighting.
Sempervivum heuffelii are tough succulents that can thrive in any well-drained, sunny location. They propagate very easily and so make a great addition to your collection.
They are attractive succulents that make an excellent indoor potted plant. They’re attractive both in appearance and in their scent, making them ideal for display.