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Sempervivum calcareum (Houseleek)


Scientific Name

Sempervivum calcareum Jord.

Common Names

Houseleek, Hen and Chickens, Old Man and Woman, Roof House Leek


Sempervivum tectorum var. calcareum

Scientific Classification

Family: Crassulaceae
Subfamily: Sedoideae
Tribe: Sedeae 
Subtribe: Sedinae
Genus: Sempervivum


Sempervivum calcareum is a succulent with symmetrical, densely packed rosettes with numerous pale green, blue-tinged, tongue-shaped leaves with pointed, often maroon-stained tips. The rosettes grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter and multiply via short-stalked offsets to form dense mats. Older rosettes bear clusters of starry, yellow-eyed, pale pink flowers on thick stalks with clasping scale-like leaves in summer. Rosettes die soon after flowering.

Sempervivum calcareum - Houseleek

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USDA hardiness zones 5a to 9b: from −20 °F (−28.9 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Sempervivums are not difficult to grow, provided they are not waterlogged and killed from excess watering. They can be easily grown outdoors and in containers, and they earned the name "Houseleeks" from their tendency to root on the roofs of houses. After the mother plant flowers, it will naturally die, but the plant has likely produced many offsets that will continue to grow by this time. These are excellent for cold windows. Sempervivum earned their popular name "Hen and Chicks" from their growth habit. The mother plant, or hen, sends off numerous offsets, clustering around her base like chicks. These offsets can be easily repotted, or the plants can be left to form a clumping mat.

Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot a succulent, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot. See more at How to Grow and Care for Sempervivum.


Native to the Southwest Alps.



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