Misbehaving Hens and Chicks?

“I planted hens and chicks (Sempervivum spp.) in the front planter against my house last year. It gets a lot of sun, and I have had portulaca flowers there too, because nothing seemed to grow there. The three hens and chicks are thriving, however they are growing strangely. They are growing vertically. They didn’t grow like that last year. Obviously there is something wrong?” –Question from Adorée of Toronto, Canada.

ANSWER: No worries! Your hens and chicks are getting ready to bloom! Older “hen” rosettes grow vertically, bud and bloom, and then die. Their unusual clusters of flowers are starry and rosy pink (see image below). They kind of look like Martian flowers to me, but they pretty in their own right!

Thankfully, the dying hen rosette will send out new “chick” rosettes that will fill in after the hens have completed flowering and senesce. Don’t do a thing. Your plants are really happy!

Here is what hens and chicks flowers look like!



Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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