All About Sempervivum Care – The “Houseleek”

Sempervivums are beautiful and hardy plants that look great in garden beds, rock gardens, containers, and more. This complete guide includes tips on how to care for these plants so you can keep them looking healthy and beautiful for years to come.

Also known as the hens and chicks plant, Sempervivum is one of the most common house plants found worldwide. Although the succulent can easily spread and survive in a wide range of environments, it still needs proper care to thrive and remain healthy. Many gardeners love Sempervivum due to its exotic appearance resembling a beautiful rosette that can complement any interior décor, outdoor garden, or succulent terrarium. Other names referring to the succulent include Thor’s beard, Jupiter’s eye, Thunder plant, and Liveforever. 

So, how can you take care of a sempervivum plant at home? Generally, Sempervivum does well when grown outdoors in sandy or gravelly soil. The main soil requirement for this succulent is that it must be well-draining. Since the plant is drought-tolerant, you don’t need to water it daily. Instead, check the soil regularly and ensure it is completely dry before watering. Sempervivum prefers relatively high temperatures of between 65oF and 75oF to thrive. The plant stops growing when temperatures fall too low. For light requirements, make sure you grow your Sempervivum in full sun. The plant requires at least six hours of sunlight every day to thrive. There is no need to fertilize it since it is adapted to growing in poor soils.

If you are still new to Sempervivum and don’t know how to care for the succulent, you have come to the right place. Read on to discover more information on how to take care of the Sempervivum plant.

Sempervivum: Brief Overview

Sempervivum is a genus of stemless succulents native to Europe. The plant hails from family Crassulaceae, also known as Houseleeks. The genus comprises more than 50 different species.

The succulent is common in the Alps and the Carpathians since it prefers relatively rocky places and dry climates, which is why it can survive on roof shingles, walls, or rocks in montane regions.

A sempervivum in a wooven basket.
The genus comprises more than 50 different species.

The plant is highly durable and can maintain its green foliage even in the harshest growing conditions. In fact, Sempervivum is a Latin name that means “always living.

The succulent isn’t toxic to dogs and cats. In fact, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has declared the succulent one of the safest plants to have around pets and horses.

The leaves of Sempervivum are edible and can be juiced or eaten raw. Their texture, taste, and color are similar to cucumbers. The plant also produces fruits that are edible. Some people even eat the succulent’s seeds, stems, and roots, but you need to be careful with the quantity consumed because consuming very large quantities can cause vomiting.

Sempervivum blooms in the summer. Depending on the variety of plant you have, the flowers may be purple, red, or pink. The fruits are produced during flowering but ripen around late August or early September.

The plant’s leaves are evergreen and grow into rosettes. The primary function of the leaves is to store water which gives them a rather chubby appearance. The succulent can grow up to 25 cm tall and 20 cm wide in optimal growing conditions.

How to Care for Sempervivum

Now that you have some knowledge about Sempervivum, let us discuss some of the things you need to do to ensure your plant remains healthy and happy.

Where to Plant Sempervivum

If you live in a relatively cool and bright place, you can plant your Sempervivum on the rooftop. After all, most of these plants come from Europe, where they are traditionally planted on rooftops of cottages and survive without issues.

If you want to have it in your backyard or front yard garden, make sure you pick a relatively rocky spot. You can even have it in cracks and crevices in the walls or between rocks.

The plant will generally do well in a relatively dry area unsuitable for growing other plants. The succulent doesn’t mind poor soils and negligence.

Sempervivum care outdoors and indoors is generally easy because it is hardy and doesn’t mind growing in poor soils. It also tends to do well in relatively shallow planters on a sunny windowsill indoors or outdoor setting.

Soil Requirements

Sempervivum generally does well in shallow and well-drained soils. You can easily make your own potting mix by combining three parts of regular succulent soil with one part of crushed limestone.

Remember that the root system of Sempervivum is relatively tiny. So, it is always good to use shallow pots, shells, or stones with natural depressions or hollows.

You don’t even need to add potting mix when using a stone. Just set your sempervivum plant in the depression and wet the rock regularly from the bottom to provide the succulent with moisture.

In your home or office, ensure you keep your Sempervivum plant in relatively shallow containers with coarse, well-draining potting mix or no potting mix at all.

Watering Requirements

Sempervivum requires little or no watering as long as you maintain good drainage. You can water your plant once per week or whenever the surface of the soil is dry.

A freshly watered sempervivum.
You can water your plant once per week.

Watering should only be done during summer. You don’t need to water the plant during winter.

Light Requirements for Sempervivum

Sempervivum does well in a wide range of sunlight conditions, but generally, it likes to have a few hours of direct sunlight per day.

If you are planning to grow them on a windowsill, make sure the glass doesn’t reflect light into the plant because it can magnify sunlight and burn its leaves.

If you keep them indoors, use a small fan to circulate air around the plant, especially during summer when it produces fruits.

You can also keep your plant outdoors during summer but ensure it gets direct sunlight for only a few hours each day.

Dried leaves indicate low levels of sunlight, whereas wilted or yellowing leaves indicate too much light. You should move the plant away from direct sunlight if you notice these signs.

Temperature Requirements

Sempervivum does well in both hot and cold climates. However, it prefers a slightly warm environment with little or no frost during winter.

This is usually when it produces flowers, so you should ensure the plant has enough sunlight exposure to encourage flowering.

A sempervium in a pot exposed to sunlight.
It prefers a slightly warm environment with little or no frost during winter.

Sempervivum plants can survive temperatures of -31°F, but they die when exposed to sustained cold.

As mentioned, the plants also require little to no watering during winter because there is no growth or flowering. You should stop all watering until new shoots appear in spring.

While Sempervivum does well in the outside conditions, it isn’t suited for places with intense, hot sunlight or windy conditions.

Fertilizing Requirements

Sempervivum doesn’t need fertilizers, and it usually grows in poor soils and rocky surfaces.

However, if you like faster growth and more blooms indoors or outdoors, you can feed the plant with a diluted dose of a balanced fertilizer in early spring.

Sempervivum in a rocky surface.
It usually grows in poor soils and rocky surfaces.

Use a spoonful of fertilizer per plant and mix this with a gallon of water. Soak the entire plant, including its pot, for up to 30 minutes to ensure it absorbs all the nutrients.

Insects and Diseases  

Sempervivum is usually pest-free, but you should keep an eye for aphids or mealybugs. You can use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to rub the pest off the plant.

You should also remove any dead leaves from your Sempervivum since they can harbor pests and diseases.

As mentioned, if your succulent has wilted or yellowing leaves, make sure it gets enough sunlight.

If your plant suddenly collapses, remove any dead portions immediately to avoid the spread of disease. You can then dust off aphids or give it an insecticide bath if you spot pests eating away parts of your succulent.

Sempervivum Propagation Methods

Sempervivum is usually propagated by division. When you divide the plant, you should separate some of the “baby” offshoots from the mother plant to get more plants.

You will need a sharp knife or garden clippers for this process. It is best to join two cuttings together, so they join at their bases while leaving their stems apart. You then need to place the joining area into a pot with moist, but not wet soil, and cover it until new leaves appear.

Sempervivum in a pot with offshoots.
You should separate some of the “baby” offshoots from the mother plant to get more plants.

You can divide your Sempervivum plant once every 2-3 years to keep it healthy and growing well. If you allow it to grow too big, its center will weaken and collapse.

Once the plant reaches 4-5 inches (10-13 cm) in diameter, you can repot it into a larger pot with well-draining soil to make room for its expanding roots.

Repotting should be done in spring before new shoots appear in summer. Don’t water your Sempervivum for several days after repotting.

Summary

Sempervivum is hardy succulent with thick leaves that spread to form rosettes. It prefers poor, well-draining soils and is usually pest-free.

It is easy to grow since it tolerates indoor settings as well as harsh outdoor conditions. The plant produces offsets which can be divided for propagation every few years.

You should stop watering the plant in winter and allow it to go dormant since it doesn’t need any water during this time.

We hope you have learned a lot about this cute plant and that you can try growing it at home.

Thanks again for visiting our site, and please come back for more articles about succulents and gardening.

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