How Much Water for Hens and Chicks Plants?

Don’t over-water. Hens and chick plants die from too much water. They are drought tolerant and don’t need to be watered very often. I’m sure that anyone starting to grow hen and chick plants has heard or read something like this. I’m here to say, not true.

The Experiment
I took two hen and chick starters and planted them side by side in plastic cups. One container had holes for drainage, the other did not.

Over-Watering
I filled the cup without holes until water pooled above the soil. Whenever I couldn’t see water above the dirt, watered the plant. My expectation was for the plant to rot and die within a few weeks. A month passed. Another month. After almost 3 months I just couldn’t keep it up any longer. The plant still looked fine. After dumping out the sopping wet soil I saw that it had even put off the small, white, hair-like roots… always a good sign.Under-Watering
For the other plant, the one with good drainage, I watered it well right after planting. Then I watered it off and on, whenever it struck my fancy. Watering was sporadic… like watering is all to often. It was dead within 6 weeks. Brittle and dry it crumbled in its parched pot. The white hair roots had been the first thing to shrivel, followed by the rest of the plant.Conclusion
Hens and Chicks ARE drought tolerant. They CAN take some neglect. However, only after they are well established. When you first receive your hens and chicks water them well. Don’t be afraid to give them plenty of water. Don’t let them dry out. Newly planted hens and chicks are more likely to die from too little water than too much water.

Once your plants have had time to become established, once they have grown those little white roots, then you can cut back and be more lax in watering. Cold and wet will kill your hens and chicks. Plants sitting in a puddle of water can rot. But new transplants do not like to be completely dry for too long. Have fun growing your Hens and Chicks 🙂
and remember Young’s has tons of colorful succulents for sale.

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21 Comments

  1. Nancy Antrim's Gravatar Nancy Antrim
    May 26, 2012    

    Toby, I need your help to show me how illustration with pictures and explaination to take care of hens and chicks. I am beginner to do learning how to care of catcus for easy care. Thank you so much for your time. Have a happy Memorial Day Weekends. Please keep touch.

    • Michele's Gravatar Michele
      November 22, 2016    

      I had gorgeous chicks and hens. They were growing like wildfire! But, all of a sudden, they were all DEAD. I water my plants every weekend. Did I over-water them? I bought NEW chicks and hens and they were growing as GREAT as the ones I’d just lost. NOW, they are dieing. I water ALL my plants every weekend. I did NOT water my chicks n’ hens this past weekend. Please tell me HOW OFTEN they need water!

  2. Barbara Davis's Gravatar Barbara Davis
    September 10, 2013    

    What am I doing wrong, my hen and chicken flower dries up and dies? Am I water them to much ? I have them on a table on the porch they don’t get a lot of sunshine .Can you help me?
    Thank you,
    Barbara Davis

    • September 10, 2013    

      If you could send us an email with details of your growing conditions we will be able to help you better.

  3. Whitney's Gravatar Whitney
    February 5, 2014    

    I love the information on your site! I am about to try to germinate hens and chicks from seed. Do I need to soak the seeds? If so, how long before I plant them? Also, once planted, how often should I water them? Thank you!

  4. May 5, 2014    

    Thank you so much for your information, I am not sure why, but I usually have A very hard time understanding the information I usually get weather its on line or face to face, but I actually got you and you held my total attention then entire time, you were so loaded with the questions I’ve had going threw my head for years, thank you so much. Wow you’ll never know how happy you have made me today! Thank you so much, Maureen Taylor

  5. Will's Gravatar Will
    May 7, 2014    

    Well, I’m not into gardening and all that stuff but I enjoy my hens and chicks, I play plenty of games and collect certain Items just for the fun of it and, hens and chicks struck my sight as a unique plant and I had some left from when I was 4 that had still grew. Some of mine are dying so I water them daily, seems to be alright and growing FANTASTIC. Thanks for the info too 🙂

  6. virginia's Gravatar virginia
    July 5, 2014    

    How do you trim then. expecially the ones that are growing up?

  7. Peggie's Gravatar Peggie
    July 7, 2014    

    Help!!!! My hens dying right before my eyes. I’m sure it’s from to much water. Can I try planting it in a new pot and save it or should I let it alone? The bottom is all black and mushy even though I stopped watering it.

    • July 7, 2014    

      You might try pulling it out and leaving it with the roots in the air for a couple days so it can dry out some. We’ve had plants where the roots were rotting from being too wet before. We pulled the plants up, cut off the roots and set them on dry soil to re-root. Most of them survived and didn’t continue to rot.

  8. Jeanine's Gravatar Jeanine
    July 13, 2014    

    My niece gave me some beautiful ones for Mothers Day…they were doing great,even sprouted a long shoot with flowers about 2 weeks ago….checked on them twice a week…went out today to find a slimy pile of mush!The only thing remaining are the two shoots! What happened???

  9. nita's Gravatar nita
    July 15, 2014    

    I’ve had hens and chicks for 4 years. I separate them every year and make new
    ones. This year they have started to turn yellow on the edges. Whoa, what’s
    happening?

  10. July 15, 2014    

    I’ve had hens and chicks for 4 years. I always separate them in the spring to make new ones and they’ve always done great. This year they’re turning yellow,
    what is wrong?

  11. Terri Stanley's Gravatar Terri Stanley
    April 8, 2016    

    This is very interesting. I will be modifing my handout for the farmers market this season.
    Of course, I have to try this for myself with a couple noid (no identification) semps.
    Thank you! Excellent info throughout your site!
    Not to mention the gorgeous, healthy plants I’ve purchased from you!
    Can’t wait for my latest order to arrive!

  12. Gardenerwoman's Gravatar Gardenerwoman
    May 30, 2016    

    Hm! Interesting experiment. Pleas help me find out if you can keep hens and chicks inside because I am new to hens and chicks.

  13. sandi nolan's Gravatar sandi nolan
    July 6, 2016    

    I live in Florida and the temps right now are in the 90’s. Some of my hens and chicks are dying. I was given these and do not know how to take care of them. How much water do they need in this hot and humid area? I already have lost quite a few. Some were established with roots and some were not. Please help with this. Thanks. Sandi

  14. Mary's Gravatar Mary
    October 25, 2016    

    My cobweb hens and chicks accidentally got wet and all the webs disappeared, will the webs come back ? 🙁 Thanks

  15. Chin's Gravatar Chin
    December 19, 2016    

    Hi, I am a beginner at growing succulents in general, I was wondering if you could help me. I currently have a beautiful hens and chicks plant and recently one leaf on the top of the plant turned yellow and shrivelled up and my baby buds that sprouted on the top shrivelled off as well. The leaves are also facing downwards. Please help, Im not sure whats wrong with my plant or how I could remedy it. I currently am living in Malaysia and my plant is forever indoors, i was advised to keep it away from sunlight and keep it in cool temperatures. I watered the plant once every two weeks and it is in a ceramic pot and i make sure all the water drains out before putting it on the plate.

    • December 21, 2016    

      Couldn’t say from that description exactly what is wrong, but the conditions that you are growing in are not ideal for sempervivum. If the turned down leaves are what I’m thinking then it’s from not enough light. If the “Shriveled leaves” are mushy then its rot. If they are dry then it’s not enough water. Based on your watering schedule I would say you aren’t watering enough, but it totally depends on the conditions.

  16. Kim A Boss's Gravatar Kim A Boss
    April 9, 2017    

    Cold does not kill hens and hens, I live in North idaho and they survived every snowy season,they are pretty hardy

  17. Megan Manzietti's Gravatar Megan Manzietti
    May 27, 2017    

    Is it possible to replant these under ground and get them to grow back?

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