Hens and Chicks: Does It Need Direct Sunlight?

Does your hen or chick plant require direct sunlight? Do you have limited space for growing veggies? A small Sempervivum succulent is an excellent indoor succulent for it's high light resistance and drought resistant nature. In fact, do not give up anything but water to this great little houseplant. With a lifespan of 15-20 years, as well as a low maintenance care regimen, it can be grown almost anywhere.

The hens and chicks plant is probably the cutest succulent out there. Native to Southern Europe and northern Africa, the petite plant is loved by gardeners worldwide for its gorgeous texture, easygoing nature, and varied shapes. It is a darling to many people. What is even more interesting is the fact that it is relatively easy to care for the succulent whether you are growing it indoors or outdoors. However, one question that always comes up is; does the hens and chicks plant need direct sunlight? We shall find out the truth in a moment.

So, does the hen and chicks plant require direct sunlight? The answer is yes and no. Generally, the hens and chicks plant thrives in full sun, but it can still do well in partial sun. The need for lighting mostly depends on the variety and species of the plant you have and its natural habitat. Ideally, you should always strive to provide your sempervivum with at least four hours of direct sunlight. Overexposure to sunlight can lead to severe sunburn, which is a big problem to deal with in the long run.

Do you have a hens and chicks plant at home but wondering whether or not you should expose it to full sun? You have come to the right place. Read on to find out everything you need to know.  

The Hens and Chicks Plant General Light Requirements

The hens and chicks plant is generally a sun-loving succulent. It does best when exposed to full sun but can still tolerate partial sun. However, the amount of sunlight your plant gets will depend on the variety you have and its natural habitat.

For example, varieties that are native to shady areas will not do well when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods.

Hens and chicks exposed to sunlight,
It does best when exposed to full sun but can still tolerate partial sun.

The best way to know how much light is ideal for your hens and chicks plant is to observe it closely. If the leaves start to turn yellow or brown, it is an indication that the plant is getting too much sun.

On the other hand, if the leaves are pale green, it means that the succulent is not getting enough lighting.

In general, you should aim to provide your plant with at least four hours of sunlight every day. If you are growing the plant indoors, place it near a sunny window. If you are growing it outdoors, choose a spot that gets plenty of sunlight in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon.

Hens and Chicks Sun or Shade?

To understand whether you need to grow your succulent in full sun or partial shade, you need to figure out what these terms mean.

Typically, when a plant grows in a spot where there is no shade and receives between 10-12 hours of direct sunlight every day, it is referred to as full sun. The number of sunshine hours may reduce drastically in winter.

For a hens and chicks plant, at least eight hours of direct sunlight can still be considered full sun.

Half shade or partial sun is achieved when your succulents receive no more than six hours of direct sunlight every day. It means that the plant could be exposed to plenty of morning sunlight but shaded from the scorching afternoon sun. Or they only get sunlight in the early hours of the morning and late hours of the evening.

Hens and chicks plant exposed to morning sunlight,
Choose a spot that gets plenty of sunlight in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon.

The case when this succulent doesn’t receive any form of direct sunlight is referred to as full shade. This term can also be used when the sempervivum grows under a tree and is only exposed to scattered sunlight.

Typically, you want to keep your hens and chicks plant under partial sun conditions, cutting the maximum number of hours your plant is exposed to direct sunlight to six a day. This way, your plant can still thrive while avoiding sunburn issues.

Can a Hens and Chicks Plant Receive Too Little Light

Like any other plant, a hens and chicks plant can also receive too little light. When this happens, the leaves of your succulents will start to turn pale green. The problem is not lethal in most cases, and your plant will survive as long as you provide it with enough exposure to light.

However, if the lighting conditions do not improve, your plant will eventually start to stretch out and become leggy. This condition is also referred to as etiolation.

When this happens, the stem of your plant will become thin and elongated, while the leaves will grow further apart from each other. Your plant will also produce fewer offsets.

Ideally, you want to avoid this problem by providing your plant with enough lighting. If you notice that your plant is starting to stretch out, move it to a spot where it can receive more light.

You can also try to increase the number of hours your plant is exposed to sunlight every day. If this is not possible, you can supplement the natural light by using artificial grow lights.

The Hens and Chicks Plant and Sunburn

Generally, the hens and chicks plant enjoy a lot of sunlight. As mentioned earlier, it requires up to six hours of direct sunlight every day to stay healthy.

This is especially true for the sempervivum because it has vibrant, bright colors that will only show if it receives sufficient exposure to sunlight. When the plant gets exposed to enough sunlight, it becomes “happily stressed” and displays its most beautiful color variations.

However, the succulent is still prone to sunburn. Typically, the hens and chicks plant thrives in temperatures between 60oF and 90oF. If it is exposed to extremely hot sun rays, it may develop irreversible sunburn on its leaves.

Sempervivum plant exposed to sunlight.
When the plant gets exposed to enough sunlight, it becomes “happily stressed” and displays its most beautiful color variations.

Fortunately, this succulent is relatively easy to grow because it displays signs of unhappiness and stress pretty quickly. When the plant is stressed due to excessive exposure to sunlight, it will start to develop discolored patches on its leaves.

The patches will be white, brown, or dark red at the early stages of sunburn, depending on the type of sempervivum you have. If you notice early signs of sunburn but do nothing about it, it transitions into a full-blown problem.

Severe sunburn on your hens and chicks plant will mostly show up as black patches on the edges of the leaves that slowly spread towards the center.

If nothing is done, the leaf will eventually dry out. Indoor sempervivum plants tend to turn golden brown or yellow when they are burning from too much direct sunlight.

How Does Sunburn Affect Hens and Chicks Plant?

Leaves that are severely sunburned will eventually die and fall off the plant. If this happens, your succulent may not be able to produce offsets or flowers.

In some cases, the entire plant may die if exposed to too much sunlight for an extended period.

If you notice that your hens and chicks plant is sunburned, act quickly to save your plant. The first thing you want to do is move it to a spot where it can receive indirect sunlight or artificial light.

Sempervivum plant with water droplets.
Another way to prevent sunburn is to water your plant more frequently.

You also want to make sure that the succulent is not placed in an area where it will be exposed to hot afternoon sun rays.

Once you have moved your plant to a safer location, check the leaves for any sign of damage. The leaves will eventually heal and produce new offsets if the sunburn is not too severe. However, if the damage is too severe, the leaves will fall off, and your plant may not recover.

How to Prevent Sunburn on a Hens and Chicks Plant

In order to prevent sunburn, it is important to acclimate your plant before exposing it to direct sunlight. This process can take weeks or even months, depending on the type of succulent you have.

The best way to acclimate your hens and chicks plant is to place it in an area where it can receive indirect sunlight for a few hours every day. Gradually increase the amount of time the plant is exposed to sunlight until it can tolerate six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Closeup image of sempervivum plant.
You can also prevent sunburn by using a light-colored pot.

You also want to make sure that the succulent is not placed in an area where it will be exposed to hot afternoon sun rays. If possible, try to find a spot where it can receive morning or evening sun.

You can also prevent sunburn by using a light-colored pot. A white or light-colored pot will reflect some of the sunlight and prevent the plant from getting too much direct light.

Alternatively, use a pot with a built-in sunshade to protect your succulent from the harsh afternoon sun.

Another way to prevent sunburn is to water your plant more frequently. This will help keep the leaves from drying out and prevent them from getting damaged by the sun.

Conclusion

While the hens and chicks plant does need some direct sunlight, it can also tolerate a fair amount of shade.

If you want to make sure your plant is getting enough light, try positioning it in an area where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade.

You can also prevent sunburn on your plant by using sunscreen or light-colored planting pot. Thanks for following along with our series on the hens and chicks plant!

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