Sempervivum tectorum L.
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 tectorum, Sempervivum tectorum subsp. tectorum
Sempervivum tectorum is a mat-forming succulent with rosettes of thick fleshy green leaves variably tinged with red and usually with a purple tip. The rosettes usually grow about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, producing offsets attached to the mather rosette by stout, up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long stolons. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate to obovate, glabrous or shortly glandular-pubescent, with conspicuously white cilia, up to 2.4 inches (6cm) long and 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) wide.
In summer, an upright, leafy, pubescent, up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall flowering stalk rises from the mother rosette topped with cymes of red-purple flowers.
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 the plant's crown and gently tamp the soil, so it is firm in the ground. Water lightly, but you don't need to water newly planted Common Houseleek daily as 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 or 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 them in the spring.
Common Houseleeks will spread by underground roots. Each plant multiplies by at least 4 in a growing season by producing tiny 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.
Once established, maintenance of Common Houseleeks is minimal. You will need to remove the old hens after they flower and divide chicks as needed. Except in extremely hot, dry situations, you will not even need to give them supplemental water.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Sempervivum.
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 plant's juice 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, History, and Medicinal Benefits.
Cultivars and Hybrids
- Back to genus Sempervivum
- Succupedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
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