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How often to water Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum)?

As you may already know, sempervivum is a drought-resistant plant, it can accumulate water in the leaves and does not require frequent watering. These guidelines are full of the Internet, but this is not entirely true. Hens and Chicks can do without water for a long time, but it will not grow vigorously in drought.

In dry weather, water the Hens and Chicks once a week. This is an average, and the schedule depends on many factors. If during the week there was at least a little rain, then watering is not necessary at all. 

Hens and Chicks watering

Water the sempervivum only in hot weather when the soil is dry. It may be moist at depth, but if you have dried the topsoil more than 1 inch, then you should water it.

At different times of the year, the soil dries differently. Also, a lot depends on the type of soil and the presence of drainage. Let’s talk about this and which sempervivums are better able to withstand drought and which ones need to be watered more often.

Below I have created a table showing the irrigation schedule. The information in the table should only be used when there is no rain. Also, the size and variety of sempervivum are not taken into account; we will discuss it next.

Season Sandy soil Clay soil
Summer 1 times a week 1 time per month
Autumn 1 time per month
Spring 1 time per week

Most often, water and Hans and Chicks water in the summer. At this time the sun dries the earth fast enough so sometimes you have to repeat the watering twice a week if there was no rain.

If the topsoil dries in one day, no daily watering is necessary. The plants have enough moisture in the leaves, and it usually will survive the heat without water for 3-4 days; in addition, at a depth of the earth contains enough moisture.

I watered sempervivum no more than two times a week. If you do it more often, you can lose plants. Use enough water to moisten all the dry ground.

Autumn watering is almost unnecessary as the plants are preparing for the winter and stop growth; in addition, at this time of year, the autumn rains begin.

The exception may be the beginning of autumn when the sun is still shining strong enough, and the soil may dry up, in which case you can water your sempervivum. However, do not use a lot of water; at this time, the plants will be enough small irrigation.

In the winter, Hens and Chicks do not need watering at all. At this time, they are stagnant and do not grow; in addition, the sun in winter is very small, and the soil is rarely dry. All this makes irrigation unnecessary.

I have never watered sempervivum in winter. Perhaps in some climatic zones, there are such conditions that the soil dries in the winter, and the plants do not have enough water; if so, water it.

In my practice, it was such that the winter was warm, and the water was very much. As a result, I lost some sempervivum; they just rot.

Spring is the time when Hens and Chicks grow intensively, so he needs a lot of water. At this time, the soil is moist enough, so it is not necessary to polish it.

The exception may be the end of spring when the sun is already intense, and there is no rain, this does not happen often. In the southern states, watering may be needed in April, especially if you have sandy soil.

Irrigation frequency depends on the type of soil

As the table shows, the kind of soil directly affects the irrigation schedule. If sempervivum grows in clay soil, it should not be watered often. The clay soil dries rather slowly, first drying the top layer while it forms a crust that does not allow the bottom layer to lose water.

Hens and Chicks in such soil do not need irrigation at any time of the year except summer.

Sandy soil loses water fast enough, even if there is no drought. In summer such soil should be watered twice a week if there is no rain.

In the second half of autumn and all winter sempervivum in such soil do not water, they will have enough moisture that they will receive from precipitation.

Size affects the amount of water consumed

Another essential aspect of which I have to say is the size and shape of the variety. Large varieties need more water, but they need to be watered less often, they retain moisture better than small varieties. So water them in drought with plenty of water but not often, not more than once a week.

The reason why large sempervivum with broad leaves cannot be watered is often that a lot of water is retained on the plant. Under favorable conditions, the disease may develop there.

Also, a lot of water needs vigorous varieties that form many child rosettes, and this is logical because to increase the size of the required moisture.

Small compact varieties require less water, and they grow slower than others. These include Sempervivum arachnoideum and Sempervivum globiferum and others. However, they will need more frequent watering. So, water the dwarf sempervivums with a small amount of water, but do it more often as soon as the soil dries.

Special mention should be made of watering young Hens and Chicks plants. The young rosettes have no roots yet, and very often, if you separate it from the parent plant, it may die. And watering a lot of water can only damage.

The best way to do this is to separate the young plant when it has its first roots. Then plant to a new place and pour a small amount of water. Repeat watering every two days. As sempervivum grows, you should increase the amount of water and reduce the irrigation rate.


If your Hens and Chicks are underwatered, you will notice it immediately. Especially on large varieties, their leaves will wrinkle and become sluggish. In this case, panic should not be. They will recover quickly after irrigation.

Dwarf varieties can also suffer from underwatering. Their rosettes are closed and reduced in size. It is more difficult for small sempervivums to tolerate the absence of water than for large ones.

Long to live without water can well-rooted plants that have a lot of moisture in the leaves. And even then, they will not look healthy, they will stagnate and will not form daughter plants.

From all of the above, we can conclude that for healthy growth, Hens and Chicks need irrigation in case there is no rain.

Overwatered sempervivum

Sempervivum Oddity overwatered

Let’s talk about the excess moisture of sempervivum and how dangerous it can be.

First, overflow is possible, but not as often as it is written on the Internet. Most often, these plants suffer from excess water in winter or cold weather but not in frost.

It can also happen in late summer and early fall. By this time, it is already cold enough, and the weather is rainy.

During the period of intensive growth, spring and early summer overflow is unlikely. Last May, there were long rains. It rained almost daily, lasting more than four weeks. Nothing happened to sempervivums except that they were incredibly large!

It is also possible that when you manually water these plants and do it very often, then it can be dangerous. As I wrote above, water the sempervivum only when the ground around them is dry and not more than twice a week.

What are the signs of overwatering?

First of all, it is yellow, almost transparent leaves, it begins to rot and has an unhealthy appearance. Often the socket starts to rot from the middle, it becomes soft, and leaves fall off from it.

The plant can also be elongated, so it tries to survive. Overflow can also result in root rot.

What to do to save sempervivum?

If you see clear signs of overwatering, then you should act quickly. First, dig out the sempervivum and transfer it to a dry place. Clean all the ground from the roots, and remove all the rotten parts of the plant.

Next, place the plant in a dry place so that it dries a little. Prepare the fungicide solution and treat it. Let it dry again.

Then put the sempervivum in a pot with dry soil. If the weather is rainy, then it is better to place the pot indoors or under a transparent cover so that humidity can be controlled.

Water the damaged plant very carefully with a small amount of water. When the sempervivum recovers, you can transplant it into open ground.

I also want to say that there are varieties with less resistance to overflow. First of all, it is the famous Oddity variety, and it suffers from excess water even in summer; this is because its leaves contain more moisture than the leaves of other sempervivums. It needs sandy soil and good drainage to grow.

Large broad-leaved varieties also have a greater tendency to suffer from overwatering. These include the Othello variety, which often loses its lower leaves during heavy rains.

What should I do to avoid overwatering?

  1. The first is to plant large varieties with succulent leaves in sandy soil;
  2. You should also arrange drainage when planting these plants;
  3. Do not water the sempervivum until the topsoil has dried up;
  4. Water, not more than two times a week.

Watering sempervivum in pots

If you grow sempervivum outside in pots, then you should pay more attention, especially in hot weather. The soil in pots dries faster, so you have to water more often.

Speaking in general, in pots, I water 1.5 times more often than in the open ground. In summer, watering can be repeated three times a week.

Also, the schedule depends on the type of soil in the pots. I use clay soil with perlite. I do not put drainage stones on the bottom of the pot.

In such conditions, irrigation is needed only in the summer, on average 1-2 times a week. However, there are situations in early autumn and late spring when you need to spray pots with little water. In any case, water plants only when the soil in the pots has dried.

Here is all the information I wanted to share with you. If you have any questions, ask them in the comments, I will be happy to answer them. Below are the answers to the most common questions.

People also ask

Can an overwatered Hens and Chicks be saved?

Yes, it is possible. It all depends on how seriously the plant is damaged. If all the leaves are dead and the stem has started to rot too, then the chances of survival are minimal. If the sempervivum has lost some leaves and the rest of the plant is alive, then it will survive.

How long does it take for an overwatered sempervivum to heal?

It all depends on the variety of sempervivum, and it is also essential how damaged it is. If the variety is large and vigorous and the damage is minimal, then a month later, the plant will recover. If the injury is severe and the variety is small in size and grows slowly, then the plant can recover throughout the season.

Can Hens and Chicks grow in water?

No, it can’t. The sempervivum will be lost in the water. For growing in water, it is better to choose algae. On the Internet, you can find information about growing sempervivum in a water tank. There are also examples of growing this plant in pots without drainage holes with frequent watering. So all this can be as an experiment, for the healthy cultivation requires other conditions.

Should you water the leaves of sempervivum?

It is not necessary to water the leaves of sempervivum. However, I noticed that in dry weather, on moistening the leaves, the plant responds positively. On the other hand, if you frequently water the sempervivum in the center of the rosette in cold weather, there is a risk of developing the disease.

Do yellow leaves mean overwatering?

Yes, it can be a sign of excess moisture. Under normal circumstances, the lower leaves dry and dies. If the leaves of sempervivum turn yellow, but there is water in it, it may be due to overwatering.

Do I need to water a sempervivum during flowering?

Yes, during flowering, it is necessary to water sempervivum. Although the seeds germinate even if the peduncle is pulled out of the ground, it will be better if the flowering plant receives moisture and nutrients from the ground.

How do you know when a sempervivum needs water?

The first sign that a sempervivum needs water is the dry soil around it. The second sign is the wrinkling of the leaves; in this way, the plant indicates that it lacks water. The third sign is that the plant becomes smaller, and the rosette closes (presses the leaves to the center).

How long can Hens and Chicks go without water?

Sempervivum can go without water for a long time, one month for sure. However, this will not be healthy growth, and the plant will be stagnant.

Can you water Hens and Chicks with tap water?

Yes, of course. Sempervivum can be watered with tap water. I have been pouring such water for many years, and there have been no problems.

Do you water sempervivums from the top or bottom?

It doesn’t matter how you water it. I water from the hose on top, and everything with plants is ok.

How long should sempervivum soil stay wet?

It is better than the soil around sempervivum is always slightly moist but not a swamp.