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 :)

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38 thoughts on “Tips to Propagate Hens and Chicks

  1. 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?

    • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. I have a plant that is doing beautifully in my screened in porch but i noticed the babies are falling off..is 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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?

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

    • 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.

  10. 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!

    • 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.

  11. 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

    • 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.

  12. 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 !!

  13. 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.

    • 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.

  14. 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?

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