Hens and Chicks Plant Care Indoors: Complete Guide to Growing Sempervivum Indoors

Hens and chicks is such a common plant that even those without a garden want to cultivate it. Several folks have asked me, ‘Can hens and chicks grow indoors?’ I’m seeking to address this and other queries in depth in this post.

I write this article as a guide for convenience sake, to help you successfully grow hens and chicks indoors. I’ll share my observation as much as possible on hens and chicks plant care indoors.

hens and chicks plant care indoors

Can hens and chicks grow indoors?

Hens and chicks is an indestructible plant that can be seen in various places. The robust thick leaf plant is a true survivalist and offers you a wide variety of planting possibilities for the house, garden and balcony. Not for nothing does the botanical name “Sempervivum” mean “always living””. To successfully grow hens and chicks indoors, follow the steps laid out below.

Select a brightly lit spot within the house

The most significant requirement is the location where hens and chicks grow indoors. To get an attractive plant, you have to put them in the south-facing window. Sunlight will suffice in such circumstances, and the plants will be happy.

The bright location does not promise that the color of the leaves would have the same look and intensity as the plant that grows outdoors and has direct sunlight. The reason is that windows don’t necessarily allow all the sunshine in – that is, it shades the plants to some extent. The exterior of the windows also reflects some of the sunlight.

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If you position hens and chicks on the east or west windows then the plants may not get enough light. The plants can grow lengthy and may die as a result of light scarcity. A small number of ultraviolet fungi can also begin to develop which can even kill the plant.

The hens and chicks will be stretched even more on the north window and will not develop normally, that is for certain. I do not encourage you grow hardy succulents in that spot at all.

From all this, you may deduce that if you want to grow hens and chicks indoors, you need to grow them in a location where the highest amount of light is present. If you don’t have enough light, we discuss below what to do instead.

can hens and chicks grow indoors

Use nutrient-poor soil

How a plant grows depends heavily on the substrate that you use. A combination of garden soil and gravel is ideal for indoor growing of hens and chicks. Take half of the soil from the garden and half the gravel, mix thoroughly and pour into the containers.

Many recommend adding pebbles to the bottom of the pot for drainage. This is not necessary as the pots have holes in the bottom from which water flows, which is enough.

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Best Drainage Pots for Succulents

I don’t really recommend that you plant hens and chicks in peat because the roots will not develop well. Whenever the peat gets dry once, it’s very hard to make it fully moist again. I also don’t consider adding certain substances like vermiculite which would have more complications than benefits.

Pure clay or gravel is not appropriate for sempervivum planting in containers, either. In the first scenario, the plant would have trouble forming roots in clay. As it will not retain water, gravel is not ideal and the plant may suffer from dehydration.

Therefore, the safest option will be a poor soil-gravel combination. You can also mulch the surface with tiny pebbles, so that the plant appears more beautiful.

Water sparingly

Watering is advised once a week, or when the surface soil has dried out. Exceptions can occur, though, and we’ll address that in greater depth below.

If you use the soil combination I’ve mentioned above, then watering once in seven days is enough. But if the soil does not retain water (too much mineral components, for example), then watering may need to be more frequent. The easiest way to decide whether irrigation is required is to test the top inch of the soil with your finger. If it is dry, it is time to water your plants.

During summer the soil in the containers can dry up quicker as temperatures increase and there are more sunny days. In this situation irrigation may need to be increased to twice a week.

Read also:
How Often Should You Water Succulents?
Succulent Leaves Splitting – Why it Happens and How to Prevent it

Use pots of appropriate size

Another essential aspect is choosing the right containers. You may select two kinds of containers depending on your intended outcome.

The first kind is a large container sized 4 inches and above. There’ll be ample space in these pots for hens and chicks to grow extensively. Under these conditions, however, the color of the leaves will probably not be very intense or even green, as there will be inadequate light.

If you like large hens and chicks and don’t mind the color of the leaves then pick large pots.

The other kind is a small container sized 3 inches and below. The plants will grow less extensively in such pots, and will develop more prominent colors.

Another benefit of using small containers is that they don’t need much space, which is very useful for indoor growing.

Generally speaking, I suggest growing hens and chicks in small pots on the windowsill – it is more practical and has more benefits.

grow hens and chicks indoors

Good ventilation is crucial

This is the next requirement for good growth of hens and chicks indoors. If stale air is present around the plants, these are ideal conditions for development of fungal disease. To prevent this, the room needs to be ventilated more often, particularly in summer.

It is nice if you have sufficient air conditioning; you can also open the windows for a few minutes each day, too. If there is no air conditioning, then the room with plants must be ventilated twice a day, or perhaps even more often.

Optionally, you can mount a fan with a timer opposite the potted plants for optimal conditions, which will turn on for several minutes on an hourly basis.

Do not fertilize the plants

When growing hens and chicks indoors, you should avoid fertilizing them. Since fertilizers will encourage plants to grow more vigorously, it is not suitable indoors.

The only exception is when the hens and chicks are in stagnation due to transplant shock and do not grow at all. In this situation, a few granules of fertilizer will suffice to boost the plant.

Safeguard your hens and chicks

The indoor environments are perfect for plant disease and pest growth, particularly in winter. Sempervivum have densely arranged leaves, and the plants in the containers are near each other. All of this adds to the pests and disease growth. You will need to safeguard your plants.

Many believe it is safe for potted plant to use non-toxic remedies. True enough, remedies such as Neem Oil are of natural origin, and can manage most pests. It is used as an insecticide because it stops the growth of fungus.

Other remedies can also be used to safeguard your hens and chicks against pests.

Ensuring the appropriate temperature

The most effective range of 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit is needed for the safe growth of hens and chicks. By this, it turns out that the usual room temperature is ideal for their growth, but here is one thing worth addressing.

The windowsill heats up faster than the entire house when the sun shines really strongly. If the pots are placed on the windowsill, the plants may get too much heat.

The ground absorbs excess heat outdoors, but this is not possible indoors. Therefore, you will need to adjust the air conditioner to the right temperature, or open the window more frequently to allow the outside air to lower the temperature near the plants.

Avoid misting the leaves

Most people who grow indoor plants mist the leaves. It may be necessary to moisten the leaves of certain houseplants but this is not the case with hens and chicks – not even when the air indoors is dry.

Water on the leaves will cause bacteria to develop which can kill the plant.

Read also:
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It should be said, though, that if some water accidentally land on the leaves when you water hens and chicks, you need not worry as nothing bad will happen. However, it is crucial that the leaves dry out and are not always damp.

Do you need to bring hens and chicks indoors?

When the days get freezing cold, it is advisable to bring hens and chicks indoors. These plants that grow in the ground are often cold hardy to Zone 4B, while those that grow in pots need additional care to survive the harsh cold. Under prolonged exposure to the cold winter, their roots will usually die.

do you need to bring hens and chicks indoors
Frosted Hens and Chicks [pic cr. Maico Weites]

For more insulation, you can bury pots of hens and chicks into the ground if you do not wish to bring them indoors. You may also have some luck in keeping potted hens and chicks alive in unheated garages. Always remember to keep potted hens and chicks in a sheltered place.

If you bring your hens and chicks indoors during winter, place them by a window that gets enough sunlight. Watering should be reduced significantly and wait till the soil is dry before watering again. If necessary to fertilize, do so after March. Once the risk of frost is over, you can move the plants back outdoors.

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Is hen and chick plant poisonous?

The houseleek or hens and chicks has been used as a medicinal and magical plant for many centuries, and any toxicity has not yet been proven. However, this does not apply to each of the approximately 7,000 different houseleek species but only to the Sempervivum tectorum (common houseleek), which is widespread in this country.

However, houseleek is traditionally not eaten, but used externally or as a tincture on insect bites, burns, wounds (including bleeding), ulcers, warts and hemorrhoids. All you need to do is cut open the leaves and place them on the treated area with the damp side down. Houseleek is used just like the unrelated aloe vera and also has similar ingredients. The juice of houseleek contains tannin, bitter, tannin and mucilage substances, formic and malic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), potassium and resin.