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Sempervivum tectorum (Common Houseleek)


Scientific Name

Sempervivum tectorum L.

Common Names

Houseleek, Liveforever, Common Houseleek, Hen and Chickens, Old Man and Woman, Roof Houseleek, Hens and Chicks, Bullock's Beard, Bullock's Eye, Devil's Beard, Earwort, Fuet, Healing Blade, Homewort, Imbroke, Jove's Beard, Jupiter's Beard, Jupiter's Eye, Poor Jan's Leaf, Roof Foil, Sengreen, St Patrick's Cabbage, Thunder Plant, Welcome-home-husband-however-drunk-you-be


Sedum majus, Sempervivum acuminatum, Sempervivum alpinum, Sempervivum andreanum, Sempervivum arvernense, Sempervivum boutignyanum, Sempervivum cantalicum, Sempervivum clusianum, Sempervivum glaucum, Sempervivum lamottei, Sempervivum schottii, Sempervivum spectabile

Scientific Classification

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


Sempervivum tectorum is an evergreen, perennial, mat-forming succulent that typically forms rosettes, up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, of 50 to 60 thick, glabrous leaves up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long. They are green, sometimes purple-tipped. The mother rosette spreads in all directions by horizontal stems to form offsets. In summer, leafy, pubescent, upright flowering stalks rise from the mother rosette, up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall, topped with cymes of red-purple flowers.

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USDA hardiness zones 3b to 11b: from −35 °F (−37.2 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Common Houseleek can be grown from seeds, seedlings or by dividing offsets.

Don't plant your Common Houseleeks too deeply. Dig a shallow hole and spread the roots. Cover to the crown of the plant and tamp the soil gently so that the plant is firm in the ground. Water lightly, but you don't need to water newly planted Common Houseleek every day, the way you would with non-succulents. Common Houseleeks need to let their roots dry out between waterings.

Seeds can be sprinkled on top of a soil, gravel mix and kept moderately moist until they germinate. Once they sprout, sprinkle some fine gravel around them as mulch. Seeds are usually started in pots and then transferred to the garden as seedlings. You can start your seeds in the fall and transplant in the spring.

Common Houseleeks will spread by underground roots. Each plant multiplies by at last 4, in a growing season, by producing little offset plantlets all around the perimeter of the "hen". These are the "chicks". The chicks can be snapped off and replanted elsewhere at any time.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for a Common Houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum).


The juice and leaves have been used in folk remedies for centuries, for their coolant, anti-inflammatory, astringent and diuretic properties. Bruised leaves of the fresh plant or the juice from the plant can be used as poultices for burns, scalds, ulcers and any inflammation as the pain is quickly reduced. Honey mixed with the juice helps relieve the pain of mouth ulcers.

Learn more at Houseleek: Superstitions, Hystory and Medicinal Benefits.


Sempervivum tectorum is native to the Mountains of Western, Central and Southern Europe, from Pyrenees to Alps, Apennines and Dinarides.

Subspecies, Varieties, Forms, Cultivars and Hybrids


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