Introduction: Planting Hens and Chicks

Picture of Planting Hens and Chicks

Hens and chicks are hearty and an excellent plant for a new or beginning gardener. Most can handle temperatures down to -5 Fahrenheit, and can be used as a houseplant, outdoor plant in a pot or can be used as an outdoor ground cover.

Hens and Chicks are shaped like an artichoke with rosettes that vary in size and color, depending on the species they can be bright red, grey and purple, or green. Being they are succulent plants they have high light and low water requirements, since they are able to store water in their leaves.

You can find them as big as 12 inches around and as small as 2 inches at full maturity. Some are 'bearded' with fine or down like hairs and some will appear to be covered in spider webs, depending on what kind of Hens and Chicks you have.

They reproduce via branches or offshoots. As the rosette grows, it puts out shoots or stems, if these shoots get long enough to find soil, they will root and create new rosettes. The first rosette is the "hen", the stems or shoots are the "chicks".

Step 1: To Plant Hens and Chicks You Will Need:

Picture of To Plant Hens and Chicks You Will Need:

Your choice of succulent plants found in many Lawn and Garden Shops or just ask a friend who has some Hens for some chicks. I am using Golden Sedum here.

Any kind of planter a minimum of 4  6 inches deep or a sunny area in your yard.
Garden Charcoal
Potting Soil, specific to Citrus and Cactus

Step 2: Prepare Your Planter

Picture of Prepare Your Planter

I used my container gardening method to get started, but this is a matter of choice and is not necessary with Hens and Chicks.

Start with a little garden bark in the bottom of the planter and a toilet paper core.

Add some Garden Charcoal.

Place dirt around the tube filling your pot to around one inch from the top.

Fill the tube with more garden bark and then add some gravel on top to aid in keeping the plant off of the soil to help avoid rotting.

Step 3: Plant Your Chicks

Picture of Plant Your Chicks

Gently pull a chick from the container.

Brush away as much soil as possible exposing the root.

Press the chick into the prepared area near the edge and bury the entire root.

Continue until you are satisfied with your arrangement.

Use a soft paintbrush to clean dirt out of the rosettes.

Step 4: Watering Tips

Picture of Watering Tips

To Water, fill a sink or bucket with water and submerge the entire pot. Not covering the plant any more than you have to.

When air bubbles stop rising out of the pot remove it from the water and allow it to drain until all dripping stops.

Let your Hens and Chicks remain out of sunlight until the rosettes are totaly dry (otherwise they will burn).

Step 5: Caring for Your Hens and Chicks

Picture of Caring for Your Hens and Chicks

Remove chicks as the pot becomes overcrowded and remove any dead leaves

If your plant begins to look unhealthy the most common problem is due to too much watering. If the soil is soggy prepare a new planter with all fresh soil and transplant your Hens and Chicks.

Don't be concerned with fertilizing as you will probably burn the roots with it, when you are ready to transplant the chicks refresh the soil with a 50/50 blend of the original soil and the citrus and cactus potting soil.

Almost all hens and chicks will form a flower when they reach full maturity. After flowering it will then die.

The Hen will stop making chicks and a spike grow in middle of the rosette as she prepares for the end of her cycle of life.


Pearl 1 (author)2016-06-23

Can Hens & Chickens survive the Northern Nevada, aka Fernley, climate?

Cold/snow in winter, hot, 90-100 summer.

minnesotagirl71 (author)Pearl 12016-07-11

I would think so. They survive winters in Minnesota and summers of 80s and 90s.

minnesotagirl71 (author)2016-07-11

I have loads of hens and chicks that have been multiplying for close to 20 years. This year large areas of them have turned yellow. Does anyone know why that would be and what I can do about it? Thanks for any help.

bobm720 (author)2011-07-27

I have just planted some of these. One of the rosettes flowered. How do you get them to do this. I have about 30 individual plants but only one small one flowered. Any help is welcome.

KathyF56 (author)bobm7202016-04-12

They flower at the end of their life cycle.

kat.hinkle1 (author)2014-09-04

Please what is the purpose of the toilet paper tube?

KathyF56 (author)kat.hinkle12016-04-12

To keep the hen's leaves from sitting on the soil, otherwise they could begin to rot.

JohnMac (author)2009-06-24

These are unusual will they grow in a desert climate?

Aleesha_c (author)JohnMac2015-02-18

They will thrive in anything that isn't heavily waterlogged

stayathomedad (author)2012-07-10

Help! I found these great looking plans Red Heart Hens and Chicks. I don't want to do it wrong. My wife and I live in Western PA. Can we find Cactus Palm and Citrus Soil here.

I found the planters, pictured here, here at home, Are these inside or outside plants or both?

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.



Aleesha_c (author)stayathomedad2015-02-18

They are out door plants too and love direct sunlight

Rufustwo (author)2014-06-01

Good info on hen and chicks. I have many of these and am just now making a succulent display in a large bowl with 2 smaller containers set inside,I need to purchase more plants to fill this and am wanting the other colored chicks,OR is there a way to make the green ones turn colors?????????? Will send photo when my Bowl is finished.thanks for info.


bccf (author)2014-04-18

My hen and chicks are growing tall and look more like roosters. I've tried just pinching off the tops, but that still looks bad. Any ideas what I should do to keep them short and full?

pkuhn1 (author)2011-05-22

how long does it normally take for a chick just plucked from its mom to take adult form. i picked a chick up at a garden center and the employee told me to just put it in soil. ive never grown these nor have i ever seen them. i am unframilure with them.
please help.

diamar79 (author)2010-02-28

Ohh, so if all the leaves are falling off then I'm probably overwatering it?? Is it salvagable?

bluefly1215 (author)diamar792010-07-05

More than likely. try transplanting it into a new pot and soil. I have a lot of these in several varieties. I have even had them fall off the deck and sit on the ground for months before I could pick them up. I have just picked them up and sat them on the soil and they take off. These are so much fun to have.

container_gardener (author)2009-08-16

I love the term "hens and chicks". So cute! I always wanted to grow these succulents, but I don't have a window that receives enough light to sustain them.

Deewheat (author)2009-07-27

I have five varieties of these. I love plants that thrive on neglect LOL!

im4tooele (author)2009-07-22

I had those in California.

hsmomof2 (author)2009-07-22

I have been afraid to try something, but have wanted to try gardening on a beginners level. This looks like something I could try with my kids.

penguingirl12 (author)2009-07-22

my family has a whole pot of them I think that they are really cool and love them!

chauntee2 (author)2009-07-20

I love hens and chicks;)

juvinurse (author)2009-07-20

My mother loved these plants and had slews of them

aunty (author)2009-06-23

Again, a very job.

DebH57 (author)aunty2009-06-24

Thank you Aunty

Bratillia (author)2009-06-22

These look unusual but very cool

DebH57 (author)Bratillia2009-06-24

Thank you

AvAngel (author)2009-06-21

Now this is different, will they grow in any geographical area?

DebH57 (author)AvAngel2009-06-22

Hens and chicks will pretty much grown anywhere they can find a little bit of soil and take root Av

Goodhart (author)2009-06-19

I remember at home (some 30 + years ago) my Dad had them growing out of chinks in a retaining wall (our driveway was about 9 feet below the backyard level at the point it entered the garage in the back), and if one fell out we'd just find a bit of dirt seeping through the wall, poke a little hole in it, and shove it in, and they normally grew.

Your way pretty much guarantees them to grow though ;-)

DebH57 (author)Goodhart2009-06-20

You know Goodhart I don't think there is anything easier to grow than Hens and Chicks and they will grow almost anywhere they can find a bit of soil to root in. Thanks for commenting!

Goodhart (author)DebH572009-06-20

I agree, they are like dandelions, only not so destructive :-) (I have seen dandelions break up concrete sidewalks already)

bethmez (author)2009-06-19

Another great idea from Deb

DebH57 (author)bethmez2009-06-20

Thanks Beth

treesneedtobehugged (author)2009-06-18

Great instructable Deb!

Thanks so much Trees!

CAWildWoman (author)2009-06-18

This is really cool, I thnk I could do this.

DebH57 (author)CAWildWoman2009-06-18

Its very easy to do and maintain/ Thanks for commenting

AmazingGracie (author)2009-06-18

I have some of these but never knew what they were, thanks!

DebH57 (author)AmazingGracie2009-06-18

You are welcome Grace, thanks for commenting.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am 51 and hail from sunny Southern California but originate from back east. I am a Web Designer by trade and own a small ... More »
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