Hen & Chicks – A Favorite Plant!

My lifelong love of plants and gardens has childhood roots with a few plants including sunflowers, pumpkins and “hen & chicks”.

When we would go for a drive in the country and end up at a family or friends rural home, there would usually be an old boot, pot or other container on the front porch overflowing with small green plants.  A bigger plant would be surrounded by smaller ones like chicks surrounding a mother hen.

The coolest thing about these plant was that no matter how many holes there were in the planter, in time the chicks would find there way to the opening and grow.

Hen and Chicks the way I remember them as a kid.

Hen and Chicks the way I remember them as a kid.

Picture from http://crackthesky17.blogspot.com

As an adult I have started this plant in all the gardens of our various houses.  This is truly an easy plant to get started.  All you have to do is ask anybody with a mature plant for a start of a few chicks.  Fill a container with dirt and stick the chicks in it.  Keep it outside in a cooler not-super-sunny spot and forget about it.  Not much will happen the 1st season but the following spring look for the  hen to settle in and start a family.  This plant isn’t a fast grower but in time you will have chicks popping out of every possible hole in the container and crowding each other for sun.

My allusion that there was only one kind of hen and chicks plant was shattered last Summer when I met a collector.  We were enjoying the rose festival at the Columbus Park of Roses when I noticed that one local vendor had hen and chick plants for sale.  I was amazed at how many different varities were displayed and learned that as a hobby the vendor had collected and cultivated dozens of different types.

I am happy to report that the hen I bought at the rose festival is alive and well in the garden of our current home and should soon have many chicks to share with others.

From Wikipedia

Hen and chicks (also known as Hen-and-chickens) is a common name for a group of small succulents belonging to the flowering plant family Crassulaceae, native to Europe and northern Africa. They grow close to the ground with leaves formed around each other in a rosette, and propagating by offsets. The ‘hen’ is the main plant, and the ‘chicks’ are the offspring, which start as tiny buds on the main plant and soon sprout their own roots, taking up residence close to the mother plant.

Plants commonly referred to as “Hens and chicks” include ground hugging species of Sempervivum (Houseleeks) such as Sempervivum Pekinese, Sempervivum arachnoideum(Cobweb Houseleek), and Sempervivum tectorum(Common Houseleek); the related genus Jovibarba. The name is also used for some species of Echeveria, Sedum and Bergenia although these plants differ significantly from, and should not be confused with, Sempervivum and Jovibarba.

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