Sempervivum tectorum, more commonly called hens and chicks, is a hardy and durable succulent that can thrive in USDA growing zones 3-11. They are very low-growing, forming dense weed-suppressing mats when mature. Plant these tough workhorse perennials in rock gardens, on hot dry slopes, or in containers and even hanging baskets.
Hens and chicks are available in a range of colors from deep greens, jewel-toned purples and reds, or silvery grays. Add some to the top of a container to help the soil retain moisture and stay cool all summer long. Even though hens and chicks are hardy perennials and can handle harsh winters, they can also be brought into the house and grown as easy-to-care-for houseplants.
Shrubs To Plant With Hens and Chicks
Use hens and chicks as a ground cover with Mediterranean and drought-tolerant shrubs. Thyme, lavender, rosemary, and santolina look good with the contrasting colors of hens and chicks and benefit from their ability to suppress annual weeds. Dwarf conifers in an alpine or rock garden also make brilliant companions for hens and chicks. The fast-draining soils of an alpine garden are perfect for keeping sempervivums healthy.
Perennials To Plant With Hens and Chicks
The best perennials to grow with hens and chicks are those that require full sun and minimal extra water. Hens and chicks are often able to go weeks with little to no supplemental watering. Choose from a range of Mediterranean herbs like thyme, salvia, oregano, and yarrow. Hens and chicks also work well in a subtropical garden border in a hot and dry location of your yard. Several companions will enhance this look including New Zealand flax, sea holly, agapanthus, aloe, red hot poker, and prickly pear cactus.
Annuals To Plant With Hens and Chicks
Hens and chicks can be used in a seasonal bedding plan when combined with other plants that thrive in heat and dry soil conditions. California poppy, nigella, and rose campion all self-seed abundantly and prefer nutrient-poor soils like hens and chicks. Allow these annuals to seed around the bed for early summer color. Plant hens and chicks with osteospermum, moss rose, and false Mexican heather for a more intentional look that is full of color long into the summer.
Best Companion Plants for Hens and Chicks in Containers
All manner of succulents make great container companions for hens and chicks. Feature hens and chicks as the main attraction in a hanging basket, and add trailing sedums for a long-lasting and decidedly modern-looking plant combination. Hens and chicks also work well in containers with alpine plants. Lewisia, soapwort, snow in summer, miniature alliums, and sea pinks will dress up a cement or ceramic container. None of these plants require much fertilizer or supplemental watering.
Ensure that any container used for planting alpine and rock garden plants has excellent drainage by adding extra holes to the bottom if necessary. Use a potting mix that is light and airy with a high ratio of perlite to potting soil.
Plants Not To Grow With Hens and Chicks
Hens and chick should not be grown near plants that require high moisture levels or boggy conditions. Such as waterlilies, sea lettuce, and rush reeds. Plants that prefer rich, loamy soil should also be avoided with hens and chicks. The root system of these succulents needs plenty of air circulation and time to dry out between waterings to maintain healthy growth. Highly fertile or overfertilized soil can damage the roots, and promote weak, leggy growth.
Best Plants To Grow With Hens and Chicks
The best plants to combine with hens and chicks appreciate well-draining soil and full to part sun exposure. Plant hens and chicks with hardy succulents, alpine plants, dwarf conifers, and heat-loving annuals, and fill your containers and hanging baskets with beautiful, low-maintenance plants.