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Hens and Chicks: Sempervivum Tectorum. Houseleek, Live-for-Ever, Sengreen, Aaron's Rod


Hens and chicks are a very hardy evergreen, succulent.  They thrive in zones 9 and 10 and prefer full sun and well-drained, dry soil.  To cultivate your own Hens and chicks, plant them in dry, sandy soil and water regularly for a few weeks until they are established.  You can cut the “chick” offsets to propagate the plant. The plant is comprised of rosettes of succulent leaves which usually reach 3 inches high.  The rosettes produce runners of smaller rosettes which are referred to as “chicks”.  In the right climate the “chicks” will spread reliably and provide ground cover.  During its flowering period, the plant can produce flowering stems which reach 1 foot high.  It requires very little care and is very drought tolerant, making it a perfect plant for rock gardens


Fun Fact:


Hens and Chicks were common houseplants in the homes of Europe starting with the Romans. Its connections with the god Jupiter made it rumored to be a medieval home insurance plan. Many planted it in the roof of their home at this time.  It was said to protect the house against fire, lightning, and violence of storm.  This tradition continued in Europe and led to Charlemagne’s proclamation that hens and chicks should be planted on every rooftop.  This led to the cultivation of the plant all across Europe and to the New World.


Sempervivum tectorum has similar, but reduced, healing properties compared to Aloe vera. It is currently used as a healing agent for burns and as an antiseptic.  Its leaves contain a gel that can be applied to burns, stings, and other skin irritations which aids in healing the skin.  Its antiseptic properties also help to prevent superficial infections on these areas. The active agent in this plant is yet unknown


Fresh leaves from Hens and Chicks can be used as a refrigerant when bruised and applied as a poultice to burns, stings, and other irritated skin conditions.  It can also be used as an antiseptic tea for sore throats by adding a teaspoon of chopped leaves to a cup of boiling water.  After it is allowed to cool, drink one cold capful a day in large mouthfuls 5 to 20 minutes apart.

Contraindications/Interactions/Adverse Reactions:

References Cited:

Beyerl, Paul; The Master Book of Herbalism; Phoenix Publishing Co.: Custer, Washington, 1984; p. 137,225.

Bremness, Lesley; The Complete Book of Herbs: A Practical Guide to Growing & Using Herbs; Viking Penguin Inc., 1988; p. 128.

Meyer, Joseph E.; The Herbalist; Meyerbooks: Glenwood, Illinois, 1986; p.62.

Pick the Right Plant: A Sun and Shade Guide to Successful Plant Selection; Time Life Books; pg. 66

Researched By: Corwin Minerd