Sempervivum 

(sem-per-vee' vum)

Common name: Houseleek, Hens and Chicks

Family: Crassulaceae (Crassula)

Height x width: 3-6" x 12"

Growth habit: symmetrical rosettes of fleshy leaves forming dense groundcover mats

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: thick, fleshy, glabrous, pointed, alternate, 1/2-2" long, 50-60 per rosettes 1/2-4" across, often new ones appearing on runners; leaves often with bristles on margins or covered with white hairs

Flowers: flowers in terminal, paniculate cymes that are generally flat and branched, borne on upright stems (3-6" high); star shaped flowers vary from white, red, yellow or purple; flower parts in 6s compared to 5s for Sedum; once bloomed, flowering rosette ("hen")dies, making room for daughter rosettes ("chicks")

Hardiness: varies with species, generally 5-7 through 8 (in cooler climates), tectorum and many hybrids from 3-4

Soil: drought tolerant, well drained, moderate to low fertility, do well in poor and rocky

Light: sun, tolerate part shade

Pests and Problems: few, occasionally a specific rust disease, crown rot from too wet

Landscape habit, uses: rock garden, rock walls, crevices in paths, scree, raised beds, troughs, alpine house, xeriphytic gardens, containers such as strawberry jars

Other interest: name from Latin semper or forever, and vivere or to live, referring to long lived nature; species native from Europe, north Africa and west Asia; many hybrids formed in nature and in gardens; leaves are used in treatment of burns and skin afflictions; common name from belief it protects homes from fire and other disasters, so tectorum is often grown on house roofs in Europe; similar to Jovibarba, latter differing with secondary leaf rosettes, campanulate flowers with 6-7 petals; many species formerly in this genus, now in Jovibarba or Aeonium

Other culture: good drainage is key, grows poorly in heat and humidity of deep south in US; protect hairy species from winter wetness

Propagation: spring or early summer: rosette division, stem or leaf cuttings, offsets, seeds (2-3 years for flowering plants)

Species: over 40 species basically similar, the following more commonly found; generally found as cultivars

Cultivars: generally found as cultivars, over 1000 available, often unnamed; the following are most listed; most are hybrids, often of unknown parentage, and don't belong to any species
 
Cultivar, selection rosettes other
'Alpha' blue green large, slight cobwebbing
'Ashes of Roses' gray, pink tint, fuzzy fuzzy
'Blood Tip' red tips  
'Booth's Red' bright red, large large
'Brunneifolium' pinkish brown marmoreum
'Commander Hay' red and green, large RHS award
'Hayling' deep red, green insides compact, small
'Hester' olive, red inner  
'Hey-Hey' red silvery  
'Icicle' gray green, silvery  
'King George' gray-green  
'Lavender and Old Lace' green, red tips new foliage gray-green centers
'Mahogany' dark red, shiny  
'Mrs. Guiseppi' light green, pink tips calcareum
'Nigrum' light green, purplish tips tectorum
'Ohio Burgundy' burgundy, velvety  
'Ornatum' red, translucent  
'Othello' dark green, red tips  
'Patrician' red, pink, green, smooth  
'Pekinese' blue green, some pink tight
'Red Beauty' gray green red tipped
'Reinhard' bright green, dark tips  
'Rosie' green flushed pink, hairy prolific
'Royal Ruby' purple red  
'Silverine' silvery blue, pink tint  
'Snowberger' pale gray  
subsp. tomentosum green, hairy RHS award, arachnoideum
'Wolcott's Variety' silvery pink  

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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