Hens And Chicks (Sempervivum)
Hens And Chicks (Sempervivum) is the name given to a plant that is practically kept as new throughout its life, hence the Latin name. It is able to maintain at all times its smoothness and brilliance of the leaves. Its scientific name is Sempervivum. They have great capacity to survive under adverse conditions or that hinder their development
Varieties and generalities
The evergreen belongs to the genus of 30 varieties of the Crassulaceae family. All the varieties of this family have one aspect in common. And they are able to grow in the form of a rosette.
The main use of the Hens And Chicks (Sempervivum) is ornamental. Its flowers can be of various shades (similar to roses) and offer an elegant color to the garden or public place. When several different species are cultivated with different colors, a colorful and colorful panorama can be observed.
Among the species that we find are: Sempervivum tectorum, the most common of all; Sempervivum alpinum, native to the Alps; and Sempervivum montanum. Also included are Sempervivum arachnoideum , Sempervivum wulfeni, Sempervivum grandiflorum and Sempervivum calcareum.
This plant is continuously preserved in its green and lustrous color. It maintains the smoothness and lighting quite well. Its leaves are of an intense green, and some species have shades of color at the tips. There are also red, yellow or purple.
The stem is green and ends in flowers of pink, red, white and yellow. These flowers can only be observed during the summer season. They usually have a star shape and in the warmer time of the year is when the flowers are most showy. It reaches 30 cm in height.
In general, the evergreen plant keeps growing for several years before it blooms for the first time. Undoubtedly, it is a pretty beautiful bush. It is used for decorative purposes worldwide. You can find it in vases as well as in earth and pots. The varieties are more valued to cover and ornament those sunnier and drier areas.
Habitat and distribution area
This plant is originally from Spain. It began to expand from the Canary Islands. You can see it bloom in the peninsula’s mountain ranges. Not only is it found in Spain, but it also spans the Alps, the Carpathians, the Balkans, Turkey, the mountains of Armenia and the Caucasus.
They have the capacity to store water in their fleshy leaves. This action facilitates survival in the driest and rockiest areas. Thanks to its great ability to adapt to the most hostile environments, this plant manages to thrive in the most difficult environments. When you have it in the home, it does not require much care or space.
As for their multiplication, they have great capacity to spread and reproduce in a fast way.
Reproduction and care
Although you do not have much care, it is better to give a review to keep them always in their best condition. When the circumstances are good, the everlasting spreads rapidly through bulbs . Its flowers are initially hermaphroditic. Later, the stamens bend away from the carpels of the center of the flower, so self-fertilization is not easy.
To reproduce them is better by seeds. If the children are separated, the better. You can grow it both in a pot, in vases or even on the ground directly. If you need to be transplanted, it is convenient to wait for the spring season where the temperatures are more pleasant for them.
As for their care, it is not a very demanding plant , but it is better to have them in a limestone soil with good drainage. The ponding can kill them. It does not require special payment, but it is convenient to move the land every two years. Irrigation should be moderate and not tend to be attacked by pests or diseases.
If you choose to have it in a pot, it is recommended that you use a porous substrate, since although it could live without problems in black peat alone, it would have to control a lot the risks, because it is sensitive to root rot. Thus, a good mix would be the following: 50% black peat + 30% perlite + 20% river sand.
The Hens And Chicks (Sempervivum) plant should always be placed in full sun, but in the event that you live in an area where the climate is extremely hot (above 30 degrees continuously) it is preferable to put them in the shade a few hours a day.
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To make matters worse, this plant also has medicinal properties and multiple benefits. It is used to treat inflammatory conditions that are related to pharyngitis, tracheitis, otitis and candidiasis . To treat some conditions, it is necessary to make a juice with the leaves. This juice is used to treat ulcers, pimples and some burns. It can also relieve the symptoms and itching of mosquito bites and other insects.
The active principles are what give this medicinal plant its medicinal properties. These active ingredients are tannins, resins, flavonoids, organic acids (malic, formic and isocitric), alkaloids and mucilages.
Modern pharmacological and chemical analyzes, elaborated especially with the alpine species Sempervivum tectorum, have detected chemical elements with antimicrobial, immunomodulatory and hepatoprotective virtues, as well as with antioxidant, antihyperlipidemic and free radicals exterminating properties.
For all this, the evergreen has become a beautiful, long-lasting plant, protective of homes and also of health.
As you can see, this plant is one of the most complete.
The houseleek (Sempervivum), also known as rockrose, grows where hardly any other plant can stand it. It can withstand heat, drought and cold without problems and retains its leaves even in winter. Once you have discovered the thickleaf plant (Crassulaceae) for yourself, you will often become a passionate collector, because the variety of species and varieties of the robust thickleaf plant is enormous. In total there are about 60 botanically recognized species and an estimated well over 5,000 varieties.
Houseleek varies in growth form, rosette size and leaf colour. The rosettes develop due to the extremely shortened shoot axis. They are green to bright red and sometimes hairy. Their colouring depends not only on the variety but also on the intensity of the sunlight. Only the flower stem with its red, pink, yellow, cream or white flowers ventures out of the leaf rosette at flowering time – from the end of May to the end of August, depending on the species. Thanks to this structure, houseleek can reduce evaporation to a minimum and survive long periods of drought. By the way: every leaf rosette that has flowered once dies afterwards. However, the plants spread out through daughter rosettes and can thus form larger mats in an amazingly short time. Their botanical name means “everlasting” – it probably comes from the fact that the perennial plants keep their leaves in winter and still thrive even under extremely poor growing conditions. The natural range of the houseleek is almost exclusively limited to the mountains of Europe and Asia Minor, such as the Pyrenees, Alps and Carpathians. There the plants mostly grow in rock crevices and live on their own dead plant parts.
The most famous representative of the houseleek, the houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum), was said to have magical powers in the Middle Ages – for example, it was said to protect the house from lightning strikes. Charlemagne even decreed that every farmer must have such a plant on his roof. But this also had a practical benefit, as the plants made thatched and thatched roofs more durable. The houseleek was also valued as a medicinal plant: Father Kneipp advised taking a tea made from roof houseleek for stomach ulcers, nausea and to cleanse the blood. The fresh juice of the so-called aloe vera of the north is said to have a cooling, pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effect.
House roots are excellent for rock gardens, roofs, wall joints, wall crowns and stone troughs in full sun. Tufa and limestone can also be excellently planted with various houseleek species and varieties in their cavities and depressions. Good planting partners with similar requirements are low species of the sedum (Sedum), the cowbell (Pulsatilla), starvation flower (Draba), cat’s paw (Antennaria), creeping thyme (Thymus) and various saxifrage species (Saxifraga). Of course you can also put house sausage in various vessels, such as pots made of clay or terracotta, enamel dishes, tin cans or even old wooden or leather shoes. However, it is essential to ensure good water drainage, as the thick leafed plant does not tolerate waterlogging at all. A nice planting idea with houseleek is a green window frame. Houseleaves are also ideal plants for extensive roof greening. They are usually sown directly onto the substrate as a seed and sprout mixture with saxifrage, stonecrop and other undemanding matting agents.
First fill a layer of gravel or expanded clay into planters with sufficient drainage holes. To prevent the holes from silting up later, it is best to cover this drainage layer with a piece of fleece. The drainage holes can also be secured with clay fragments. Add about a third of gravel, lava grit, sand or chippings to standard potting soil. You can also add a handful of ripe compost for a more intensive leaf colouring. But be careful: too much organic fertilizer produces bulky, flowering rotten plants.
The plants are extremely easy to care for and do not need to be divided or transplanted regularly. When watering planters with houseleek in persistent dry conditions, care should be taken to ensure that no water gets into the rosettes.
All houseleek species can be easily propagated at any time via the separated rosettes. Simply place the daughter rosettes on a permeable, gravelly substrate – they take root without any problems. If you are a hobby grower, you can also sow the plants. This is a long process, but the offspring show a great variability – and maybe there is one or the other great new variety.
Diseases and pests
On the whole, houseleek is very robust and hardly susceptible to disease in hot and dry locations. Root rot (phytophtora) occasionally occurs on damp soils which are too rich in humus. In rare cases, the plants are also attacked by aphids and phytophtora.