A classic hardy succulent, sempervivums, known also as hens and chicks, houseleeks, and, as I call them, “semps”, are tough, easy-to-care-for plants native to the Alps of central Europe. The color of their evergreen foliage will often change throughout the year. In spring, early summer, and sometimes even fall, mature rosettes send out one to dozens (depending on species and variety) of stolons a short distance from the plant, forming a ring of baby semps around the mother plant. This is where their common name comes from. In summer, some of the mother plants will send up show sprays of flowers, lasting for several weeks. After flowering, the rosette will die, but the chicks it previously produced quickly grow in to take its place.
As its name implies, ‘Oddity’ is something a bit different than the typical hens and chicks. Its purple-tipped, bright green leaves roll into themselves, forming rosettes of hollow tubes. Mature rosettes can reach 4″ by 4″ in size, and they readily produce chicks. I haven’t seen any of mine ever flower, though as it is probably a S. calcarem variety, I’d imagine the blooms would be pink.
Semps can grow almost anywhere. Traditional succulent locations, such as rock gardens and containers, work great. They will also thrive almost anywhere in the landscape provided they don’t get completely flooded. With a small amount of supplemental soil, they can grow on logs, mailboxes, green roofs, and nearly any other location. They do not perform well indoors, however, as they become leggy and lose color in extreme low light.
- Max height: 6″
- Max spread: 12″
- Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-10
- Light: Full sun to part shade
- Water: 1x per week during the heat of summer
- Soil: Well-drained
- Wildlife: deer resistant