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Care of Hens & Chicks Plants

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Care of Hens & Chicks Plants

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Overview

The hens and chicks, or iridescent Crassulaceae echeveria, is a heat-loving succulent native to Latin America. These plants love lots of bright sunshine and a relatively dry environment and are not fond of humidity. Hens and chicks makes an attractive specimen in the rock garden, and even thrives in a crack in the walkway or a crevice in a stone wall. But most enthusiasts prefer to grow the plant in containers. It performs well when potted because it tolerates drought and the limited space of confinement. Potted specimens are also easier to bring indoors to over-winter, which is necessary unless you're located in a frost-free area. Hens and chicks will not survive a freeze, and some varieties can't tolerate temperatures below about 41 degrees F.

Step 1

Cover the bottom of a clay pot with a layer of small gravel. Plant the hens and chicks in the pot with a good cacti potting soil. Cover the soil with 1/2 to 1 inch of gravel. This will help to prevent stem rot.

Step 2

Water your hens and chicks thoroughly, but just enough to evenly moisten the soil surface. Do not soak the soil to the point of being soggy. Let it dry out completely before watering again. Watch the plant's lowest-growing leaves for signs of drying if you're in doubt about when to water. They'll feel dry and lightweight to your touch. Foliage may even begin to wrinkle or shrivel a little. Water at this point. Don't worry too much because the plant will tolerate drought, but it won't survive overwatering. Avoid wetting the foliage.

Step 3

Set the hens and chicks in the sunniest spot in your home. The more bright natural light this plant receives, the healthier it will be. Insufficient light levels produce weak, leggy, spindly specimens. Provide a warm environment with an ideal temperature range during the day of 68 to 72 degrees F. They like to be a little cooler overnight, with a low of around 50 to 55 F.

Step 4

Feed the plant a good liquid cacti fertilizer once in April and again in July. Follow the packaging instructions carefully.

Step 5

Groom your hens and chicks plant as necessary throughout the growing season. Remove any dead stems or foliage. This will go a long way toward preventing rot and insect infestation. No other pruning is needed or desirable. Try not to touch the foliage with your bare skin any more than necessary. The oils present will produce noticeable marks on the plant, and possibly cause damage.

Step 6

Remove a baby chick to easily propagate this plant anytime during the growing season. The babies form from beneath the hen and quickly grow into little replicas of the mother plant. Loosen the soil a little around the chick's roots with your fingers and pull it gently out of the soil. Transplant it in its own pot of similar soil and provide the same care as you have for the mother plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Clay pot
  • Small gravel
  • Cacti potting soil
  • Liquid cacti fertilizer

References

  • Everything2: Echeveria
  • PlantCare: Hen & Chicks, Mexican Snowball
  • Bella Online: The Echeverias
  • How to Container Garden: Hens and Chicks Care

Who Can Help

  • The Urban Homesteaders: Planting Hens and Chicks
Keywords: hens & chicks, hen and chicks, echeveria care, hen & chicks

About this Author

Axl J. Amistaadt began as a part-time amateur freelance writer in 1985, turned professional in 2005, and became a full-time writer in 2007. Amistaadt’s major focus is publishing material for GardenGuides. Areas of expertise include home gardening, horticulture, alternative and home remedies, pets, wildlife, handcrafts, cooking, and juvenile science experiments.

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