Tips to Propagate Hens and Chicks

In the past week, several people have contacted me asking for information on propagating hens and chicks. I guess it is just that time of year again. As the weather warms from winter into spring, sempervivum plants begin to put out babies. By the time summer hits those baby chicks have grown quite a bit and people start to wonder, “Do I pull this chick off now, or leave it on the stem?”When to Propagate
Offsets (that’s the official name for the baby chicks produced by the mother plant) begin as tiny nubs inside the leaves of their mother. These small, bud like offsets are then pushed away from the parent plant on stems called stolons. One of the pleasant benefits of sempervivum succulents is that one plant can produce many offsets.

Depending on the hen and chick variety and the space available to the plant, it may grow a very long stem for its offsets in an effort to spread. The offset will grow from a bud shape into the typical rosette as seen in the photo below. However, the stolon connecting the mother and offset has leaves and is still very healthy. This means that the hen is still feeding the chick and it isn’t quite time to break them apart.

Note: Sometimes the chick plant does not look exactly like the mother plant. Colors may be different. Shapes may be different. Varieties often grow into their color or grow into their plant shape.

Ideally you will let the plants grow together until the chick puts out its own roots and the stolon begins to wither. This is when you know that they are ready to be transplanted. However, hens and chicks don’t always live in an ideal world. If you happen to break some chicks off prematurely, plant them up and they will most likely grow without any problems.

How to Divide
Separating the offsets from the hen plant is very easy. Just break the stem connecting the two plants, wiggle loose the chick plant, and transplant it into a new home.

Skip the Dividing and Spacing
Many people prefer to leaver their hens and chicks to grow unattended. They are easy care plants after all. In this situation the hen plant ends up being squashed by the chicks, and the chicks are squashed by their chicks until all the growing space is filled.

There is nothing wrong with this and it can even create a fairly unique landscape, however, when plants are not spaced they grow the only direction they can, straight up. Hens and chicks that are packed together lose their rosette shape and stretch into tall, vertical plants. If you do not want this to happen then it will be necessary to divide, or thin your chicks occasionally.

For more succulent plant growing information and colorful succulents, be sure to visit Young’s Garden 🙂



  1. Janice Anthony's Gravatar Janice Anthony
    July 28, 2012    

    Found this site very helpful and useful. Couldn’t find much useful info in my gardening books. Thank-you.

  2. Margaret's Gravatar Margaret
    August 4, 2012    

    Once the plant flowers, what do I do with the flowers? I can tell the mother plant is dying. Do the flowers make seeds? Do the seeds produce new plants?

    • August 4, 2012    

      You can either cut of the flower stalk and remove the hen plant if you do not like the looks of the tall stalk, or you can let the plant run its course. The plant will eventually wither and die. After the flowers bloom seeds are produced. However, the seeds are as small as specs of dust. They do not drop down next to the plant. Most likely the seeds will blow away. You might get a few plants popping up in your yard, but don’t bet on lots of plant growing from the seeds.

      • Jane Van Eg's Gravatar Jane Van Eg
        June 5, 2015    

        My mother hen is now about 4 feet tall, full of blossoms. Gorgeous! I’ve removed approx. 5-6 chicks and transplanted them, doing fine. All, are growing “in the round” shape, except for one. It’s growing like the mother hen, tall. I put in ground and it shot up about 2 feet tall in a matter of weeks. Blossoming now ! I’ve never seen a mother hen grow upward like this. Interesting!

  3. Colleen Gengler's Gravatar Colleen Gengler
    October 24, 2012    

    My daughter wants to grow succulents (possibly hens and chicks) for her wedding. They would be potted individually and given away to guests. Can I take in hens & chicks and keep them indoors over the winter? (wedding is April 6, 2012). I read that they do need a dormant period. We live in MN so I’m not sure this is going to work. Should probably have started propagating them this summer.

  4. Allen K.'s Gravatar Allen K.
    June 10, 2013    

    Is it OK to cut the root stem to just a few inches when transplanting?

    • June 10, 2013    

      Yes, you can cut the stolon short. Ideally, though, the chicks that you are transplanting should have some roots of their own beginning to grow before you cut them away from the parent plant.

    • Judy's Gravatar Judy
      October 8, 2016    

      Can you transplant them in the fall? From inside to outside??

      • November 7, 2016    

        Sempervivum are a cold hardy plant. They are going to appreciate a dormant, cold period in the winter. Just be sure to move them outside leaving time for them to become established before it gets too cold.

  5. carolyn's Gravatar carolyn
    July 8, 2013    

    How would I package some of these up to send to my aunt through the mail or UPS…

    • July 8, 2013    

      Sempervivum ship easily. Just put them in a box. For a little extra protection in the summer, wrap them in a damp paper bag.

  6. July 12, 2013    

    I have a plant that is doing beautifully in my screened in porch but i noticed the babies are falling this normal and do i plant these seperate. also id love to plant these in the ground in an area that would b perfect but i live in mich….would they survive?

    • July 12, 2013    

      The babies or offsets are supposed to detach from the mother plant. This typically allows them to root out an grow into new plants. If they are hanging over the edge of a planter then they will fall when the stolon withers. When they fall off just take them and plant them in another container, or in the ground. Many people in Michigan grow hens and chicks without problems. They are typically cold hardy enough to survive in those areas. It is possible to have a micro climate around your home that makes it too cold, but you’d have to plant some to find out.

      • July 14, 2013    

        Thanks i will go ahead with my plans to plant them in the ground.

  7. Cindy's Gravatar Cindy
    July 16, 2013    

    Is it possible to root a new hens and chicken from just a leaf of the mother plant?

    • July 16, 2013    

      Depends on what you mean by hens and chicks since the term can refer to several succulents like echeveria, sempervivum and jovibarba. Echeveria are commonly and fairly easily propagated from leaf cuttings. Sempervivum and jovibarba are not typically propagated from leaf cuttings. It may be possible, but they don’t root from the leafs easily. Since they propagate so well with offsets, leaf cuttings are not normally required.

  8. Cerri's Gravatar Cerri
    August 8, 2013    

    I have a mature hen that broke completely off of its root base. It is dying. I want to try and save it. Please help!

    • August 15, 2013    

      Place the rosette on top of soil and give it normal hen & chick care. It is very likely that it will root out from the base of the rosette.

  9. Linda Hopper's Gravatar Linda Hopper
    August 11, 2013    

    Do I need to clip the stolen short when I plant the babies?

    • August 15, 2013    

      The stolon is kind of like an umbilical cord. It feeds the baby plant before the baby has roots. Once the baby plant grows roots the stolon doesn’t really matter. You can cut is short or long; it will wither away regardless of the length.

  10. Bette Jo's Gravatar Bette Jo
    August 19, 2013    

    I have Hens & Chicks in teracotta pots any are doing great on my drip system but for the first time one of my (I guess) hens matured and has a very tall flower stalk (mother called it a rooster). My question is should I trim this stalk after it flower so the hen doesn’t die or will the hen die anyway?

    • August 19, 2013    

      The hen will die whether you cut away the stalk or not.

  11. Mary Davis's Gravatar Mary Davis
    January 22, 2014    

    I overwatered my plant, and all the rosettes have dead leaves at their base – about the bottom third of each one. How do I replant or whatever to make it look pretty again?

  12. Shelby's Gravatar Shelby
    March 20, 2014    

    Okay so I have a hen and chick succulent leaf that I received from a friend and it appears to be dying, they planted it a couple months ago and it sprouted roots but it didn’t appear to grow a new plant by the base yet. When will I see the new growth? Also, it fell over the other day and now it is almost split in half so will it die?

  13. Meg McG's Gravatar Meg McG
    March 28, 2014    

    This is very handy information and the comments are great too. I just got my first sempervivum and I’m really enjoying it. I think I’m going to put it in a window box and let it spread out as I’ve recently moved and my yard needs to be dug up for new beds. Thanks for all the info.

  14. Lizzy's Gravatar Lizzy
    April 3, 2014    

    I went to a wedding where the gorgeous centerpiece has a stunning rosette. I have been wanting to try hen and chicks this year. But it is snipped, and it has no roots, as it was prepared for the centerpiece. Is there hope to save it?

    • April 4, 2014    

      Succulents root fairly easily. There is a good chance that if your centerpiece succulents can be saved by placing them in some soil.

  15. Victoria Whitney's Gravatar Victoria Whitney
    April 26, 2014    

    I have a small garden under a cedar tree. It is extremely hard to grow anything in, even Hens and Chickens. To date I only have three that have taken hold. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • jkml's Gravatar jkml
      August 4, 2014    

      Make sure you have enough sun and soil drainage is great. You might have to trim up the evergreen, and add sand or gravel to the soil. They don’t like to be wet.

  16. May 6, 2014    

    A few years ago my son brought home a single chick. we planted it in our raised planter box along the side of the house. FULL sun and had no idea what it would do. Now it has plenty of space to keep going around and there are no less than 50 plants now. they are all huddled together but continue to spread. I do eventually know we’ll move from this house and will want to take them. First question: Is it ok to just leave them as is or should I begin to move chicks to let them get bigger. Second question: when we move, a year…10 years down the road…Can I lift them ALL and take them? would they survive? thanks!

    • May 7, 2014    

      You can leave the plants tight if you want. Spacing them will help them grow more uniformly. You could pull them all out when you move and they will all be okay.

  17. a's Gravatar a
    May 16, 2014    

    I love hens and chicks have never had a chance to have them I do know can I plant them in a rock wall and how do we transplant them any where

    • Renee's Gravatar Renee
      June 29, 2014    

      Easiest thing ever. Seriously, if you were to set them on the ground of the worst planting soil ever. Clay filled with little stones, they would root themselves and reproduce.

  18. ligia's Gravatar ligia
    May 31, 2014    

    hello.the article is very helpfull.Thank youu! could you please tell me what is the fastest speadingspeading species of succculent plant :)?? hens and chicks thank you !!

    • May 31, 2014    

      Sedums are going to be one of the fastest spreading succulents.

  19. Tessa's Gravatar Tessa
    June 6, 2014    

    Very valuable insight, indeed. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  20. Renee's Gravatar Renee
    June 29, 2014    

    If I transplant my chicks into a planter, will they grow indoors all year round? I live in New York. I would love to have them growing in the winter months. Then I can gather enough of the babies for my spring outdoor garden.

    • June 30, 2014    

      Sempervivum hens and chicks are going to be happiest and healthiest if they have a cold, dormant season. However, I have seen people grow semps indoors. The plants will not look as good as they could, but they can survive the winter inside.

      • Chantelle's Gravatar Chantelle
        July 16, 2016    

        If I transplant some now (july) and store them in a soil tray over winter in our garage which gets far below zero, will they probably survive come spring? I have a bunch that are getting crowded out that I’d like to use for a garden plan next year. The other option for storage would be our cold room, which stays just above zero.
        Thanks! This page is super useful.

  21. Rachel's Gravatar Rachel
    August 19, 2014    

    I have a hen who produced many chicks a few months ago. All the chicks are still connected with a stolon, brown with dried up leaves but not dried up and thin like yours in the picture. Should I continue waiting until the stolon is very clearly dead to detach the chicks or should I detach them now and clip the stolon off the new bud?

    • August 19, 2014    

      It sounds like you would be okay to remove the chicks now. They should have roots of their own at this point.

  22. Deborah Pierson's Gravatar Deborah Pierson
    September 3, 2014    

    I live in zone 7 or 8 (pacific NW). I have several cute planters filled with Semps and sedums. Should I move the whole planter out of the rainy/winter season like under a covered area or leave them out in the weather. Thank you

    • September 5, 2014    

      If your soil drains well you should be okay. It’s usually just when you have inadequate drainage that you’ll run into problems.

  23. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    April 14, 2015    

    Hens & chicks are extremely popular right now, & my hubby & I are planting several varieties this year. We live in the Southwest (where water is always expensive, but with drought conditions, water wise plants are almost a must this year. Your tutorial about how to care for “babies” is terrific. It’s simple, easy to follow & will help us a lot as we grow our “water wise” garden. This year for my birthday the best gift ever is about 25 varieties of hens & chicks. My succulent garden is well on it’s way to being so beautiful.
    I belong to a great succulents group (on Facebook… Succulent Fanatics) & it’s well worth checking into.

  24. JIM's Gravatar JIM
    July 11, 2015    

    In my parents yard there is a patch of hen and chickens. At one time it covered this hilly trail leading to the back yard. They grew very well and were useful for the soil; erosion. After having this nice hill covered with “Hen & Chickens” my brother and sisters and nieces and nephews and lots of neglect on my part. I notice that there is only a few of these left, the lower leaves have turned brown. Its summer time here and we have just had a hot spell (100 degrees). I just went out to them and did a little watering and weeding in hopes of saving them and returning them to the large ground cover they once were. Since its July , I think I’ll just keep an eye on them to see if they survive the rest of the summer and fall , and be looking for them next spring. On a coupled of them, the center of them grew a long stalk that after a while fell over, can these stalks be divided and put in pots for a relocation this fall ? Or should I wait till next spring and look for chicks to take starts from ? curious in Walla Walla, JIM

  25. Stephanie's Gravatar Stephanie
    August 9, 2015    

    I planted three hens amongst some other succulens in a old toolbox&they seem to all be very healthy&growing fine just fine but only two of the hens have produced chicks. The one has not produced any. I dont understand why it hasn’t. Do u have to have two of them next to each other to produce chicks because the two that are have chicks but the one that is off to itself hasn’t had anychicks. How do I get it to start producing chicks?

    • August 16, 2015    

      You do not need two plants next to each other for them to produce offsets. A rosette producing chicks has to do with the age of the rosette and the time of year.

  26. cathy's Gravatar cathy
    August 13, 2015    

    I have babies that keep falling off but with no stem or root. Will they take root anyway?

    • August 16, 2015    

      Place the bottom of the plant on the ground and it should take root.

  27. carol gatlin's Gravatar carol gatlin
    April 18, 2016    

    what about winter

  28. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    June 7, 2016    

    I live in Kansas……..Will hens and chicks survive the winter outdoors?

  29. Betty's Gravatar Betty
    July 18, 2016    

    I’ve read all the questions…….no one mentioned how much the deer enjoy the hens and chicks. The first year I saw how the deer ate the center I was heartbroken. To my surprise, the hens came back stronger than ever.
    I’m still not sure what is said about getting seeds to start the plants……for lots of plants.
    Please explain how to get the seeds from the flowers and what is needed to plant the seeds…..thank you Betty

  30. Terri's Gravatar Terri
    April 28, 2017    

    My neighbor ran over a pot of chicks n hens that i had in the drive. Will they survive?

  31. Olga's Gravatar Olga
    May 4, 2017    

    I’m making a Sempervivum globe – how long will it take for the chicks – both hens and chicks to root and hold well so I can assemble the globe and hang it?

  32. Mandy's Gravatar Mandy
    June 6, 2017    

    Noticed that if a hen produces a flower they don’t have chicks. Do they produce a flower after they have produced chicks. And then die ? Is it an age thing ?

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