Also known as Hens and Chicks, these little beauties have been cultivated as far back as ancient Roman times. Romans grew them in vases in front of their houses and brought them along when they colonized Western Europe. A belief that Hens and Chicks protected against lightning developed from an apparent resemblance of the plants to the god Jupiter. Clean-shaven Romans thought that the plants looked like the bearded god. Former common name “Jupiter’s Beard” alludes to this fact. Later, Emperor Charlemagne ordered houseleeks to be planted on all roofs to prevent fire.
These evergreen succulents provide drought tolerant, low-maintenance color and texture all year. Hens and Chicks are fun to plant in combinations for morning sun locations. Try pairing Sempervivum with ferns for an interesting take on the “urban forest” theme. Alternatively, filling a large bonsai pot with a mixture of hardy cacti and succulents, including Hens and Chicks, makes a stunning addition to sunny outdoor spaces. They are perfect for rock gardens, rock walls, living walls, and are commonly planted in living roofs. In addition, they attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.