Do Hens and Chicks Spread Out or Stay in One Area?

Are you thinking of adding some hens and chicks plants to your indoor or outdoor garden? Curious to know if they'll stay in one place or spread out everywhere? In this article, gardening expert Paige Folely looks at the growth radius of these popular succulents, and what you can expect once you start adding them to your garden.

Hens and Chicks Plant Growing in Garden. There is a single plant near other offsets.

Hens and chicks are native to mountainous regions of Europe and northern Africa. Since they are native to mountainous areas, they love rocky, gravelly soil and dry conditions. They are an easy-to-grow drought-tolerant perennial succulent, no matter your skill level. There are also a number of different varieties you can grow both indoors and outdoors.

Hens and chicks come in many different colors and sizes. They can be grown outdoors or indoors. While they thrive in hardiness zones 3 to 8, they can also survive some pretty cold and harsh conditions. They are known for growing in locations where most other plants won’t survive.

These succulents love to grow close to the ground, but will they spread? In this article, we are going to take a look at if hens and chicks spread out or if they will stay where you planted them. Let’s dive in.

The Short Answer

Hens and chicks receive their name from their growing habit. Similar to a mother hen and her chicks, the rosettes aren’t far apart. The plant starts out with a mother plant or the hen and as it grows, it will shoot out smaller offsets or chicks.

The offsets are attached to the mother through lateral roots so the plant forms a dense colony of rosettes. The colony will only spread about 2 to 3 feet during a single growing season. The mother will send up a flower when she is ready to move on. Once the mother flowers, she will die and her chicks will carry on her legacy.

The Long Answer

Sempervivum growing in garden with red and green succulent rosettes. The plants are close together and growing in bunches.
These hardy succulents can spread out over time, given the right conditions.

Hens and chicks are alpine succulents that are hardy in cold climates. They are versatile and can be grown in rock gardens, wall crevasses, and pots. They can go long periods of time without water and will continue to grow.

If you provide these popular succulents with the right growing conditions, they will reward you with multiple rosettes in varying sizes. These quick-growing succulents can blanket a bare area quickly if properly spaced and provide the right growing conditions.

Growth Rate

Fast growing succulent plant with green rosettes growing in a garden together. The plants are made up of bright green rosettes clustered together.
These succulents have a rather fast growth rate compared to others.

From one single hen, you can expect 3 to 6 chicks in a single growing season. If you live in regions where it is warmer early in the spring or late into the fall, you can expect them to multiply three times.

The number of offsets they produce is dependent on the variety you choose to grow. Smaller varieties will grow more offsets, while large varieties will grow less. You can expect anywhere between 3 to 5 offsets with large varieties.

They can get anywhere from 3 to 4 inches tall and about 6 to 18 inches wide. These succulents do not grow tall unless they produce flowers. When properly maintained, they make a great filler plant for low-lying areas without any foliage.

Spacing

Evenly spaced succulent plants next to each other in two containers. The plants are pale green, and some are bright green. Some of the smaller pups are bright orange as they have not yet matured. They sit in plastic pots with rock gravel as the soil.
If they are planted too close together, they will grow upwards and eventually die off.

If you want them to grow to their maximum potential, you will have to give them space. The more space you give them, the quicker and larger they will grow. Space them about 3 to 4 feet apart to allow for proper growth.

If you are growing them in a container, you can decrease the spacing to fill in the container more quickly. Space your offsets about 4 to 6 inches apart in a container or pot. Within a few months, the container will be full of new plants.

If they become overcrowded, they will begin to grow upwards or begin to die off. Occasionally, you will need to remove a few of the chicks to create new space. Plant for plenty of space to prevent overcrowding.

Transplanting

Three succulents sitting on a table that are being transplanted. The plants are pale green, and there is potting soil at the base of the plants on the table where they sit. There is also a pale greenish blue watering can sitting near the plants.
If the plants become overcrowded, you can transplant them to a new location.

Occasionally, hens and chicks become overcrowded, and a few of the chicks need to be transplanted. This is simple to do and can be done anytime. For best results, avoid doing it in the winter or during extreme heat.

To begin transplanting, find a new location or container that provides the proper growth conditions. Dig a shallow hole about an inch or so into the soil. Take a sharp knife or scissors and identify a healthy chick to remove from the mother.

Once you have a chick you want to transplant, you can either give it a gentle tug or dig and cut the lateral root. Once you have collected the number of offsets you desire, plant them into the new container. Dig a hole the same depth as the root and give them a good soaking.

Your offsets should develop roots within a couple of weeks, and soon, they will be the mother to numerous chicks. Watch for any signs of distress after transplanting. This is a stressful time for most plants, and most issues can be fixed if caught early.

Proper Growing Conditions

Sempervivum flowring in the garden with a pink blossom. The bloom is tall and vivid, and the center part of the blossom has yellow stamens, There are many small succulents planted around the primary plant in the garden.
These plants do multiply when given proper growing conditions.

If you don’t provide the proper growing conditions, they will be slow to multiply. Considered fast-growing succulents, they will produce numerous offsets in a single season. Here are a few tips to help encourage proper growth.

  • They need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day
  • Larger varieties require more sunlight.
  • Soils should be well-draining and never soggy.
  • Soils that contain rocks, gravel, or sand are best.
  • They are drought-tolerant and don’t need much water.
  • If you water, water slowly and deeply.

These are just a few tips to help ensure you have happy and healthy plants. Do some research on the specific variety you have chosen to grow. It may take a little time and research to find the right location that has all these attributes.

Growing Indoors

Growing a succulent indoors sitting on a ledge near a window. The succulent has green rosettes that make up the plant, with some purple coloring throughout the leaves. The plants sit in a light orange colored ceramic pot.
These popular succulents are commonly grown as houseplants.

Hens and chicks can be grown indoors as a houseplant. Being sure you have the proper container is important. Since they tend to spread, you need to have the appropriate size pot for them.

It’s common to see succulents grown indoors in small, cute pots. Hens and chicks shouldn’t be grown in small containers. You may purchase or be gifted offsets to start your own collection of plants. Most likely, it will be a single rosette, but don’t be fooled. That single rosette will grow more and more rosettes.

This succulent plant doesn’t do well when it starts to get overcrowded. Choose a pot that is at least 8 inches in diameter or more. The container may have to be larger if you are growing a larger variety. Ensure that the indoor pot has proper drainage holes to prevent soggy soils.

Just like growing outdoors, they need to have proper sunlight and soil conditions to thrive. While these succulents can survive in low-light conditions, they will thrive when placed in bright, indirect light.

For optimal growth, place them in direct sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. Choose a potting soil specifically for succulents and cacti. You can add rocks or gravel to the top to increase drainage and airflow.

Final Thoughts

Hens and chicks will grow quickly under ideal conditions. They can spread upwards of 3 feet so allow for plenty of space. If your plant has become overcrowded, you can transplant to another location or pot by removing offsets. Never remove whole colonies, as this can cause too much stress on the plant.

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