Sempervivum wulfenii (Hen and Chicks) is an ornamental, perennial plant forming basal rosettes (10 cm in diameter) of succulent leaves. They are oblong to spathulate, up to 3 cm long, up to 1.5 cm wide and grey-green with a purple-red base and darker tips. The offsets are produced on stout, woody stolons up to 10 cm long. The flowering stems are up to 25 cm tall, with flowers up to 1 inch across having 11 to 15 lemon-yellow petals.
Scientific Name: Sempervivum wulfenii Hoppe ex Mert. & W.D.J.Koch
Synonyms: Sempervivum wulfenii subsp. wulfenii, Sempervivum globiferum
Common Names: Hen and Chicks, Houseleek
How to grow and maintain Sempervivum wulfenii (Hen and Chicks):
It thrives best in full sun to light shade. In indoor an east or west-facing window where they receive four to six hours of sunlight is ideal.
It grows well in a well-drained succulent mix, with an ideal pH around 6.0 (slightly acidic) or an equal part sharp sand with all-purpose potting mix.
Water regularly during the summer and spring. keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. You can allow the topsoil to become slightly dry between each watering. Reduce water in the winter.
It prefers an average summer temperature 65 degrees Fahrenheit – 70 degrees Fahrenheit / 18 degrees Celsius – 21 degrees Celsius. In winter, some varieties can withstand temperatures down to freezing.
Fertilize with a controlled-release fertilizer at the beginning of the season or weekly with a weak liquid solution. Use a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer at 1/4 strength on mature plants, and a fertilizer with less nitrogen on young plants.
Re-pot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To re-pot, a succulent, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you re-pot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.
Pests and Diseases:
It has no serious pest or disease problems. Mealybugs can be a problem, and if dead leaves are not expelled from the plant, it can attract other insect pests or have problems with fungus.
It can be easily propagated by offsets, leaves or small cuttings. Take leaves or small cuttings and allow them to dry and heal over for about a week. Next place them in the sand and wait for the tiny rosettes to start in a few weeks. Sempervivum earned their famous name “Hen and Chicks” from their growth habit. The mother plant, or hen, sends off numerous offsets, which will cluster around her base like chicks. These offsets can be easily re-potted, or the plants can be left to form a clumping mat.