The name sounds adorable but is a bit misleading. Hens and chicks are actually a type of succulent that is easy to grow and perfect for drought conditions. Learn more about planting hens and chicks, including what type of sun needs they have.
Do hens and chicks need full sun? Hens and chicks are a type of succulent plant that prefer full sun conditions. When planted indoors, place them in a bright room with lots of windows. For outdoor planting, place them in an area that gets at least six hours of sunshine.
What are hens and chicks?
Hens and chicks are actually one type of plant and are classified as succulent. They get their name because the plant will have one larger plant (the hen) with various offshoots (chicks).
Another name for hens and chicks is houseleeks. They can grow both indoors and outdoors and have a spiral shape to them.
Are hens and chicks an indoor plant or an outdoor plant?
Hens and chicks are both indoor and outdoor plants. They are incredibly hardy and easy to care for, which is why they work in many different locations.
For indoor use, you can keep them in a container but may want to transplant them as they grow larger. As an alternative, you can continue to separate the chicks from the hen to keep growth to a minimum and as a bonus, this will give you many new plants.
For outdoor use, hens and chicks like a variety of climates. They will do fine in cold winters and are drought-tolerant so they can withstand hot, dry summers.
While hens and chicks can grow in temperate environments that have cooler summers and wet springs, they are not as common. This is because too much water can oversaturate the plants and there are other, better plants for this climate.
Do hens and chicks need sunlight?
Yes, hens and chicks need sunlight to grow. It is perhaps the one requirement for the plant as they need minimal soil and not a lot of water.
If you are growing hens and chicks inside, be sure to place the container in an area that gets plenty of suns or at the very least, lots of indirect but bright light.
Rooms with lots of southern-facing windows will encourage growth in your hens and chicks and keep them from rotting.
You can line hens and chicks against a windowsill or on a table or counter that gets lots of light. They won’t mind the increased warmth that windows can generate during the summer.
Can hens and chicks survive in shade?
The ideal location for hens and chicks is in full sun. As a result, the shade will stunt their growth and even lead to rot or other diseases.
You can try to get away with the partial sun but don’t be surprised if the hens and chicks suffer. Whenever possible, plant your hens and chicks in a bright, sunny location.
Where is the best place to plant hens and chicks?
Honestly, the best place for hens and chicks is an area in your garden where you can’t get anything else to grow in. This includes rock gardens and areas with poor soil.
Hens and chicks do well in containers or, if you need to fill up a lot of space, you can let them spread out. You can even speed up this process by removing the chicks from the main hen part and planting them in a different location.
Hens and chicks don’t need a lot of soil and they do well with shallow, compacted dirt. The plant grows an underground runner that connects the hen with the other chicks but if this is severed, the chicks will have their own root structure that will allow them to survive on their own.
Caring for hens and chicks
If you have a space in your garden that you just can’t get anything to grow in, try planting hens and chicks. These areas include pine trees, clay soil, or in rocky areas.
Don’t bother amending the soil as this will be a waste of your time and money. Instead, simply dig a shallow hole and cover the roots of the plant. You can also line rocky areas with hens and chicks or place them into crevices for an extra feature.
Whether you plant your hens and chicks indoors in containers or outdoors directly in your garden, pay attention to drainage. If water pools in your soil or your container doesn’t have drainage holes, then root rot can set in.
Hens and chicks prefer it when the soil dries out completely between watering. Test the soil with your finger before you water it next to ensure it isn’t still moist.
Another thing that hens and chicks don’t need is water. They are the perfect plant if you are busy or just forgetful.
For indoor care, don’t worry if you haven’t watered your hens and chicks in a month. The soil can dry out completely between watering.
As for outdoor use, you shouldn’t have to water at all as natural rainfall will take care of them. The only exception is during the summer as a bit of water will take them through drought conditions.
Again, another element you don’t have to worry about with hens and chicks is fertilizer. They really don’t need help to grow.
Because hens and chicks can grow in poor soil, they don’t need extra nutrients so you don’t have to add fertilizer. If you want to speed up the growth of your succulents you can add a bit of fertilizer or compost, but really, this is an unnecessary step.
Finally, one thing you should do for your hens and chicks is divided them. You can do this as often as you want but at a minimum, should happen every two years.
Hens and chicks can get pretty crowded which will stunt their growth. Removing some of the chicks will help the plant spread out more and remain healthy.
Dividing some of the chicks from the hen will also allow you to fill in your succulent garden. Another alternative is to give the chicks to friends; you can place them in a nice container to make an affordable but thoughtful gift.
If you live in a climate that has cold winters, hens and chicks will survive. However, they will become dormant so don’t expect any growth until the weather warms up in the springtime again.
To help protect your hens and chicks during the winter, clear the area of extra debris as this can attract moisture. Too much moisture and the plant may start to rot.
When grown outdoors, hens and chicks don’t usually have a problem with pests. Those that are grown indoors or in a greenhouse, however, can attract more pests, such as aphids and mealybugs.
Pay attention to signs of an infestation, including seeing the bugs or discoloration on the leaves. In most cases, an insecticidal soap or neem oil will stop the bugs from contacting the plant.
Hens and chicks propagation
While you can certainly purchase hens and chick plants, if you want to save money, simply ask around. It is very easy to propagate this succulent so if a friend or neighbor grows them, they should be more than happy to give you some.
Start by looking for the main plant, known as the hen. This will be in the middle of the plant and will be larger than the other parts.
Then, look for the runner that connects the hen to the offsets. Gently pull the chicks you want away from the hen. They should come off easily.
Underneath the chick part of the plant, you will see a series of roots. As long as these are intact, you can then go ahead and plant them on their own.
All you need to do is dig a shallow hole for the chick. As an alternative, you can place them in a rock crevice, as long as there is a little dirt in the hole.
The chick will take hold in the area and in a short amount of time, will become a hen and produce its own chicks. You can continue to separate chicks as long as the plant continues to look healthy.
Can you grow hens and chicks from seeds?
The most common method for growing hens and chicks is from an individual offset, known as the chick. However, it is possible to grow the plant from seeds.
You can check out local nurseries and online plant stores to find different varieties of succulents. Once you have the seeds, use a cactus potting mix to start it off and place it in a sunny area.
As a popular succulent, hens, and chicks prefer full sun. This is their main requirement, however, as they don’t need rich soil, regular watering, or even fertilizer. Don’t forget to periodically remove the chicks from the hens to create more of these amazing plants!