Hens and chicks are succulents that grow in clusters of rosettes. Native to Europe and Africa, these plants are admired for their unique shape and colored leaves.
They are quite easy to grow and can be grown in pots or outdoors. Here’s how to propagate hens and chicks:
How to Propagate Hens and Chicks
Hens and chicks can be propagated in three different ways:
1. Propagating from Offsets
This is the easiest way to propagate hens and chicks. The offsets of the plants are connected to the main plant through a stolon. Since they are ground-hugging plants, you need to wait till the offsets reach a diameter of 1 ½ inch to 2 inches.
Once the hens and chicks are big enough, twist and pull to separate them from the plant. You can also use a small knife if you find it hard to separate them by hand.
Let the freshly cut offsets dry off and heal for a few days. When the wounds are completely healed, they will form calluses. Once they reach this stage, they are ready to be propagated.
Take a pot with a draining hole and fill it with a good cactus and succulent soil mix. Plant the offset into the pot. Tuck the roots into the soil and make sure the plant is sitting firmly above the soil.
You can top off the soil with some perlite or some pebbles to facilitate drainage. Place the pot in an area where it gets a lot of indirect sunlight and water it whenever the soil gets completely dry.
New roots will have taken hold in a few weeks and gradually the plant will start to require more sunlight and less water.
2. Propagating from Leaves
It is possible to propagate Sempervivum from leaves, but it does not have a very high success rate. To maximize your chances, pick leaves at springtime as they will be at their healthiest.
You can twist and pull leaves with your hands or use a pair of scissors to cut them off the plant. Make sure that you don’t tear or damage the leaves in this process. Gardening shears or a sharp knife can help you get a nice clean cut.
Let the leaves dry so that they can form calluses. Meanwhile, prepare a pot or a tray with enough room to hold many hens and chicks’ leaves. Fill the container with a cactus and succulent mix.
When the leaves are ready, place them in the container with the base touching the soil. Place the container in a spot where it gets indirect light. Mist the soil frequently to keep it wet but don’t soak it completely.
It can take up to a month for the leaves to sprout roots. When this happens, new baby leaves will sprout above ground, taking over the existing leaf. The old leaf will wither away anyway, so you don’t need to worry about it.
Not all the leaves will take root and grow into plants, so don’t be upset if some of them die off.
3. Propagating from Stem
Stem cuttings are a very viable method of propagating hens and chicks. It gives good results and the chances of unsuccessful propagation are very low.
You need a nice healthy piece of stem from a hens and chicks plant. Make sure the stem has some leaves growing on it and cut it off cleanly with gardening shears.
The stem should be free of leaves at the bottom for a length of about 1-2 inches. Let the cutting dry and form calluses. Fill a container with a succulent potting mix and plant the callused stem cutting into the soil.
The leaves shouldn’t be under or touching the soil. Place the container in a spot where it gets indirect sunlight and water it only when the soil gets completely dry. Make sure the drainage is good by topping the pot with pebbles or perlite.
You will see roots taking hold in about 2 weeks.
When to Propagate Hens and Chicks?
Spring is probably the best time to propagate hens and chicks. Your main plant will have the most offsets to propagate at this time and the new plants will have a lot of time to grow.
Always select the largest and thickest rosettes for propagation. The rosettes have the most success if propagated in spring and late summer is the last chance to propagate them. Do not propagate them in the heat of summer when the sun is at its hottest.
It is also not recommended to propagate them in the winter. You will find it very difficult to find viable rosettes during the winters.
Make sure that the plant you are using to propagate is at least a year old. If the plant is too young, the rosettes can take almost a year to take root and start growing. They are also more likely to die if the plant is too young.
How long does it take to propagate hens and chicks?
The amount of time it takes to propagate hens and chicks depends on the method you use.
If you propagate using offers or stem cuttings, you can expect to see new roots and sprouts in 2-3 weeks. If the propagation is successful, you will definitely notice new roots within this period.
If you propagate using hens and chick leaves, be prepared to wait up to a month to see any results. This method doesn’t have a very high success rate, so manage your expectations accordingly.