Sempervivum - Hens-and-Chicks, Houseleeks

Drive through the countryside on state and county roads, or better yet, get out and walk. Enjoy a slower pace and pay closer attention to what folks are growing in their yards. I bet you'll see Houseleeks, sometimes called Hens-and-Chicks. Properly known as Sempervivum (pronounced sem-per-VEE-vum), meaning "always living", you may see them spilling out of flower pots, planters and even from old kettles. I once saw some growing out of a pair of old boots filled with potting soil. My grandmother grew them in common concrete troughs flanking the front steps. I didn't think much about them then, but I've come to appreciate them since.

All of them are perennials with thick, succulent leaves arranged in rosettes. The leaves store water, so they're very drought tolerant. They grow quickly in full sun and in almost any poor soil type as long as it is slightly acidic or neutral and well-drained. Sandy or rocky soil is ideal.

To learn more, read our article No-Fuss Houseleeks.

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