The sempervivum is a perennial succulent frequently used as a ground cover or easy-to-care-for container plant. The word "sempervivum" means "to live forever," which is an appropriate label for these hardy plants as they thrive in both cold winter climates and sultry southern conditions. More commonly known as "Hens and Chicks," the sempervivum is easily identified by its characteristic growth pattern in which the new plants sprout from within the center of the larger, mother plant. With just a bit of attention, these low-maintenance bits of greenery will live for years.
Place your sempervivum in a sunny spot. As a succulent and relative of the heat-loving cactus, the sempervivum needs lots of sunshine to thrive. If you've chosen the container route, simply plan to put the plant in a sunny window.
Add sand and pumice to the soil to improve the drainage. The sempervivum is hardy, but too much moisture can harm or even kill the plant. Mix even quantities of each component until the planting medium has an even, sandy texture.
Place an additional inch of sand around the base of the plant as topdressing, if desired. This will further enhance the drainage of the soil and can be visually appealing.
Water the sempervivum immediately after planting to stimulate the roots. Add water sparingly thereafter, allowing the surrounding soil to dry out completely between waterings.
Give the plant a light dose of 5-10-10 granular fertilizer or general-purpose plant food once a year in either the early spring or the late fall before the first frost.
Spray the leaves of the sempervivum with a dilute soap solution once every 2 weeks to keep insects such as aphids at bay. Simply combine 2 tablespoons of dish-washing soap and 1 quart of water in a spray bottle and douse the foliage. To deter larger pests, add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of hot pepper sauce to the solution. The smell alone will keep most critters away.