One of the joys of every succulent gardener is to see their plant collection multiply to form a colony. Unlike other succulents, the sempervivum, commonly referred to as the hen and chicks’ plant, has a remarkable ability to reproduce through offshoots (chicks) that grow into beautiful plants. Therefore, propagating the sempervivum isn’t that difficult. The most important thing you need to know is how to separate the offshoots from the mother plant at the right time and propagate them into new plants.
So, how do you propagate sempervivum? Sempervivum has a remarkable characteristic of producing rosettes that grow into relatively tidy, mounding clusters. To propagate the plant, carefully cut the rosettes and plant them in a well-draining potting mix. Carefully position them in partial sun and water them regularly until they establish a stable root system. The propagation of offshoots into new plants is best done outdoors in spring or summer. Other than offset propagation, you can also try your luck at propagating the succulent from seeds.
Do you have a sempervivum plant in your home, and you want to grow it into a colony of beautiful plants? You have come to the right place. Read on to find out everything you need to know about propagating the hen and chicks plant.
Propagation from Rosettes
As mentioned in the introduction, it is possible to grow your sempervivum colony without any effort on your part. The succulent produces beautiful rosettes that mature into young plants forming a neat colony.
When the mother plant flowers, it automatically dies, leaving behind a space to be occupied by the young plants.
However, you can still take charge of the propagation process and divide the rosettes manually using a sharp, clean knife.
One of the benefits of manual division and propagation is that it gives you more control over your colonies’ size and exact location.
When you subdivide the rosettes into several pieces for propagation, it is critical to ensure each piece of the rosette has a bit of root tissue that will develop into a new root system for the young plant.
It is also critical to replant the young rosette divisions you obtain into a well-draining potting mix. Proper subdivision of the rosettes can take some time, but it is worth every effort.
Follow the steps outlined below to propagate your sempervivum through rosette subdivision:
1. Choose Healthy and Juicy Rosettes
You will have the most successful propagation if you choose healthy rosettes that have already formed some roots other than going for the youngest chicks on the plant.
The easiest way to establish if the rosettes have formed some roots is by carefully lifting the plant from its pot and shaking off some of the potting mix to expose the root system.
Selecting rosettes with an already developed root system gives your offshoots the best chance of survival when transplanted away from the mother plant.
If you take offshoots without any roots, the propagation process will take longer since rooting alone can take up to one year. There is also a real risk of death.
If you don’t want to lift the plant from the pot, you can easily identify rosettes that have formed roots based on their age. In this case, make sure you go for offsets that are at least one year old.
2. Dividing the Offsets from the Mother Plant
Once you have identified healthy and juicy rosettes, the next thing you need to do is to separate them from the mother plant. You can do this using a sharp kitchen knife if necessary.
Be careful when making your cut to avoid damaging the young roots already formed on the rosette. You should also remove the stem that connected the sempervivums carefully. You need to ensure you obtain a clean cut.
Once you have obtained your rosette, don’t rinse the roots in water because it will only complicate the rooting system. If the roots have traces of the potting mix, it is okay, and you don’t have to worry about removing it.
If the rosette has dry leaves, get rid of them gently. Be careful to avoid damaging the healthy leaves since it can cause your rosette to develop diseases.
If the cutting was deep, set your rosette in a relatively dry and sheltered area to allow the cutting to form a callus. You can allow the cut part to receive some light but not direct sunlight.
3. Preparing the Rooting Spot
You can root the rosette in-ground or growing pot. It all depends on what you need in the long run. When choosing a place to root the rosette, it is critical to ensure the chosen spot receives plenty of light.
Take time to prepare the potting mix and ensure everything is okay. You can mix regular garden soil with sand in the ratio of 1:1 to obtain a good potting mix for your young sempervivum plants.
Carefully place the sempervivum roots in the preparing soil. The only part of the rosette that should be in the soil is the roots. Every other part of the young plant must be above the ground level.
If you are propagating more than one rosette at the same time, ensure each rosette is carefully positioned at a sufficient distance from the other. A distance of approximately three inches between the rosettes will be okay.
Do I Need to Shade Newly Propagated Offsets?
Generally, you don’t have to provide your newly propagated offsets with shade but don’t expose them to direct sunlight.
The only exception will be when you are propagating the dwarf species of the sempervivum. In this case, you need to provide your newly propagated rosettes with sufficient shade to prevent them from sunburn.
If the place you want to position your rosettes is relatively sunny (receives more than eight hours of direct sunlight), then you need to tighten the shade to protect your young plant from intense heat.
To create a simple shade for your young sempervivum, stick two sticks in the ground and pull a shade net between them. You can also position your growing container under tall plants such that the relatively tall plants are protecting the young plants.
You need to provide the shade for at least two weeks to allow your young sempervivum plants to adapt to their new environment.
When the middle of the rosette starts turning bright green, it means that the rosette has successfully developed a root system, and you are free to remove the shade.
However, you need to remember that there are times when the shade may be needed for a relatively longer period (one month or even more). This is especially true if you propagate your sempervivum rosettes in summer.
If during the rooting there is almost no sun or it rains, then you can do away with the shade, and your rosette will do just fine.
Should I Water Newly Propagated Sempervivum Offsets?
It is prudent to water your newly propagated offsets a little to keep them hydrated. However, watering should only be started at least three days after planting. Don’t water the rosettes immediately after planting because they will die.
When watering the rosettes, use a small amount of water and only moisten the plants. Feel free to gradually increase the amount of water as the offsets develop a stable root system.
Watering is only necessary if there is no rainfall at all. There is no need to water your young sempervivum plants in the rain.
Should I Fertilize Newly Propagated Sempervivum Rosettes?
There is no need to fertilize your newly propagated sempervivum rosettes until they form a stable root system. Typically, the root system will be strong enough to sustain fertilization after 30 or 40 days.
Keep the fertilizer to a minimum amount, and be sure to use slow-release plant fertilizer since it is the best option.
Don’t worry if you forget to fertilize your plant because it is not a matter of life and death. The succulent still produces many vitamins and other critical elements needed for survival.
Therefore, it only requires minimal fertilization to thrive. A few pellets under the rosette are enough for survival.
Can I Propagate Sempervivum from Leaves?
There is a lot of information circulating online about propagating sempervivum from leaf cutting. Unfortunately, the information isn’t correct, and nobody can verify it.
It is almost impossible to propagate sempervivum from leaf cuttings because new roots may never form. Several people have tried taking cuttings from the leaves and stems and rooting them in soil, but they only ended up drying instead of forming new plants.
Even spraying and positioning the leaf cuttings in a greenhouse doesn’t change the outcome. Basically, if you want to propagate sempervivum successfully, you need to stick with the offset propagation method described above.
Sempervivum is one of the easiest succulents to propagate, making it an excellent choice for beginners. If you have healthy and juicy rosettes, you can separate them from the mother plant and root them.
Once the offsets have rooted, you can transplant them into their own container or garden bed. You may need to shade newly propagated offsets in hot weather, but overall, they should be relatively easy to care for.