Hens and chicks(sempervivum) are remarkably capable of producing young offshoots (chicks) and adapting to change. As a result, the propagation of hens and chicks is not complex. All you need to do is get to know your plant so you can tell where to cut and when to spread.
Like most succulent plants, hens and chicks are easily propagated. The stalks and leaves store up the water to retain the cuttings until they root. The plants have a rosette, and the floral stems rise close to the center of the rosette.
Growth is short and clustering or higher with ramified expansion. Propagate low-growth types by separating and rooting tiny seedlings, called offsets, which form around the mother plant.
The Ideal Time to Propagate Hens and Chicks Plants
The best time to spread these succulents is when they start to exceed their container or outer space. Chicks are smaller clones of the mother rosette (hen) and readily split apart. When the stolon linking the mother and the offset has leaves and is still healthy, the hen still feeds the chick, so it is not quite the time to separate them.
Ideally, the plants will grow together until the chick pulls out its roots and the stolon begins to dry out. Then you know they’re ready for transplantation. However, if you break some chicks early, plant them, and they will probably grow without a problem.
The plant’s division helps it adapt to its space and remain healthy. The best time of year to split a succulent-like sempervivum is in the summer before it enters a period of heavier fall growth.
The offsets that are the chicks produced by the mother plant begin as tiny nubs within their mother’s leaves. These small buds are then spread from the parent plant on stems known as stolons. One of the attractive benefits of sempervivum succulent plants is that a plant can produce a lot of offsets.
According to the variety of hen and chick and the space available for the plant, it can grow a very long stem for its offsets in a propagation effort. The offset will develop from a typical rosette-like bud.
You will be most successful in propagating sempervivum cuttings if you take rosettes that have already formed some roots rather than younger chicks. The simplest way to know for sure is to remove the plant from the pot and shake part of the soil to expose the roots. It helps you select the best branches to cut off.
How to Take Cuttings
A sharp and clean knife is the most convenient way to cut a small rosette for propagation. Cut across the edge of the rosette, cutting where it connects to the mother plant. Place the rosette cutting in a dry, sheltered place for a few days to allow it to form a callus. The cuttings may receive light but not direct sunshine.
How to Divide the Offsets
The offsets can be separated effortlessly from the hen plant. Break the stem connecting both plants, wiggle the chick plant, and transplant it to a new home.
Potting your Hens and Chicks Cuttings
Grab a small plastic container, about 3 inches around, and fill it with a granular potting mixture made for succulents. Add a thin coat of fine-grain only on top of the substrate. Possible gritty materials to use are construction sand, small gravel, or chicken grit.
The regular potting mix works very well too. You can add a bit extra perlite for improved drainage and compost for additional nutrients if you like. Place the calloused tip of the cut in the fine grain at the top of the jar. Press gently so that the end reaches the main mixing layer.
While hens and chicks can be grown from seeds, splitting or propagating offsets from a complete and healthy mother plant is more convenient.
How to Grow Hens and Chicks from Seed
You can grow hens and chicks from seeds and divide the chicks. They need light to sprout, and you should keep them humid but not damp. Seeds are expected to germinate in 3 weeks. At this stage, you may add thin gravel and mulch.
Propagating Through Offsets
Check the mother plant for offsets to be removed. Gently pull the plant out to examine the balances that have already cultivated some of their roots. Alternatively, skip this step and select a healthy offset on the outer edge of the vessel.
Propagate hens and chicks offset in the spring. Once seedlings reach a width of 1 to 2 inches, they are ready to spread. Gently pull it out of the parent plant for an offset with already established roots. For a root-free offshoot, use your clippers to remove the offset, cutting the stem as close as possible to the mother plant without damaging it.
Plant the rooted offsets in a small vessel with succulent soil. For an offshoot with no roots, let the cuttings dry for a few days. Place on the surface of a small container filled with dry and succulent soil.
Lay the plantlet, base down, in a pot filled with a cactus and a succulent potting mixture. The jar should be just a bit wider than the offset and should have drain holes. Put the pot into a bright indirect light and wait for the offshoot to root.
When new roots develop, the seedling is resistant to movement when you push it. Water the rooted plant regularly until the water runs out of the drain holes. Let the soil dry halfway between watering the pot.
Propagating Through Cuttings
For hens and chicks branching out, collect stem cuttings in the spring. Wipe a pair of sharp pruners with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. Cut the stem so that there are 1 to 2 inches of stem below the top of the leaves.
Extend the cut to the side in the shade for about a week for the cut end to heal. Next, dip the apex of the stem into a 2-inch pot filled with cactus and succulent potting mixture or equal portions of peat and perlite. Again, be sure to use a container with drain holes. No watering is required until the roots form.
Propagating Through Unbranched Plants
Like some large hybrid cultivars, you can cut the entire leaf rosette for hens and chicks that are not branching, leaving a bare stem. Leave 1 to 2 inches of stalk underneath the lower leaves.
Use an empty pot more miniature than the diameter of the rosette and place the head on the border of the vessel. After a few weeks, the roots begin to germinate from the stem. Plant the rooted stem in a pot that is about as broad as the head of the leaves, using the cactus and succulent potting mixture. There should be drainage holes in the container.
Propagating By Leaves
Though the spread of hens and chicks from leaves is possible, please do not get your hopes too high as it is pretty unpredictable. Propagation from one leaf has a small success rate, although starting a new hen and chick plant is possible.
Detach a fully grown mature leaf from the parent plant by removing it from the stem. You can use a sharp blade that has been soaked in rubbing alcohol. Try propagating your plant during spring when you have a few healthy leaves already formed.
Ensure that the leaf has the base that ties it to the stem. If the plant has a flower stalk, you can root the leaves of the flower shoot. Let the leaves dry and heal over a few days. Place the leaf in a shallow pot filled with one half wet peat and one-half perlite. Use a container that has a drain hole.
Incline the leaf at an angle so that a tiny portion is in contact with the ground. Shade the container and drizzle the potting mixture from time to time to keep it slightly damp. The roots germinate from the base of the leaves, and then a new miniature plant forms over the roots in approximately 40-50 days.
The old leaf eventually becomes dry and may be removed. Place the container in a place where it will obtain a constant indirect light and water the ground enough to keep it moist but not soggy.
How to Care for a Propagated Hens and Chicks Plant
When your cuttings are in their new home, they are ready to recover and begin to produce roots. Place the jar in a bright place with good airflow. If you can, keep the temperature around the bottom of the pot close to 70 degrees.
Do not enclose the cup in a bag or container that retains moisture, as it may cause decay of your succulent. In a matter of weeks, your cut is expected to have roots. When they look large enough, you can place the new plant in its permanent pot or the soil.
The hen and chick plant is one of nature’s most efficient plants and easily propagated. They are easy to maintain and can thrive indoors or outdoors, making them a perfect plant for just about anyone.