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Soil for Hens and Chicks

There is a lot of information about which soil is best for Sempervivum. Discussions are on the forums about the best use of rocky or sandy soil, and some even recommend growing these plants in non-standard substrates.

In this post, I will describe my experience of growing in different soils, I will also give some recommendations, and in the end, as always there will be answers to the questions.

Best soil mix for Hens and Chicks

First of all, I want to tell you what soil is best for Sempervivum. Best is a mix of garden soil with sand. Garden soil is sufficiently clay and retains enough moisture. Sand in the mix is ​​needed, so that excess water does not linger, and the roots are more comfortable to spread.

The mix of earth and sand should be in the ratio of 1:1, such proportions are suitable for most Hens and Chicks.

Land that has the same proportions of garden soil and sand I call sandy soil. In this mix, most varieties feel most comfortable, and they form an extensive root system. In rainy weather, their lower leaves do not rot as it can in clay soil. In dry weather, large varieties do not require frequent watering.

In clay soil, large varieties with juicy leaves can rot, especially in rainy weather.

Soil nutrition

I also want to say about soil nutrition because there is a legend that Sempervivum needs a lot of nutrients, etc.

This is not true, this plant produces a lot of auxins, due to which he reproduces very well and does not need additional substances. If you want, you can fertilize with a small number of mineral fertilizers, and it is essential not to overdo it because there may be negative consequences, but this is a topic for a separate article.

Many gardeners plant sempervivum in a mixture of garden soil and compost. I urge you never to do this! In compost, processes of decay develop, and succulents are very vulnerable to this. Compost can fertilize trees and shrubs but not Hens and Chicks.

How much soil do Hens and Chicks need?

This is another critical question that I will try to give a comprehensive answer.

In general, Sempervivum can grow by developing roots, not very deep. However, the higher the depth, the more comfortable the plant feels. This is because a lot of moisture stored in the root, and the more space there will be for the roots, the more massive it will be.

Let’s talk about the depth of the roots. Dwarf varieties can have roots more significant than 4 inchesLarge varieties can form roots of 8 inches. Approximately this depth should be guided when planting these succulents.

Root depth also affects drought resistance. The deeper the roots, the longer the plant can live without water. So I recommend giving these plants a lot of space for the roots, even if they grow in pots.

The ground area for Sempervivum should be no smaller than the diameter of the plant itself. However, it is better to allocate a space twice as large as the rosette diameter.

If you use pots smaller than the size of the plant, then the plant will be dwarf and will not reach its varietal size.

Sempervivum soil ph

Acidity is another essential indicator to consider when growing; it directly affects plant health and cannot be ignored.

In general, for Sempervivum, it is better to use a neutral soil with an acidity of 7 pH. If you follow this rule, everything will be fine. Most soils have such acidity, a small deviation in any direction is not critical.

Some species feel good in acidic soil, and these include Sempervivum ruthenicum and some subspecies of Sempervivum arachnoideum. However, most Hens and Chicks will not feel comfortable in the acidic ground. I grew these plants in such types of soil, and they did not develop normally.

In the alkaline soil, Sempervivum calcareum feels good, and it has a brighter color and a more precise contrast of the colors of the leaves. However, not all species will grow equally in this substrate.

The acidity from 5.9 to 8.4 is suitable for all sempervivums. If you have soil acidity beyond these limits, then you should adjust it.


All I wrote above is my recommendation on how to grow Hens and Chicks better, especially if you are new. However, the soil and sand mix is not the only type of soil in which this succulent will grow.

I grew Sempervivum in different substrates, and I want to talk about which one is normal and which is not because not everyone has the opportunity to prepare the best mix.

Other substrates

Last year I planted a sempervivum in a pot of gravel, and it was exciting. Initially, I placed the pot in partial shade for better rooting. After about two months, the container was moved to full sun.

The color of the leaves was very bright, and the border between the colors was very clear. The whole plant was different from those that grew in the soil.

It was an exciting experience. However, I do not recommend planting a sempervivum in the gravel if you are new. Also, gravel in hot weather had to water almost every day.

Pure clay is not the best for Sempervivum, and it can only be used as an ingredient for the mix. I grew these succulents in clay, and they develop normally because this type of soil retains a lot of moisture, and the roots are quite easy to spread in it.

However, when it rains, too much moisture accumulates in the clay, and the Sempervivum can rot. Not necessarily that this will happen, but the risk is high.

In the Peat sempervivum is not developing very well, the fact is that the peat holds too much water in rainy weather and quickly dries up in the drought. Plants rot or suffer from lack of water. Also, in peat, plants form a superficial root system that poorly supplies them with nutrients and moisture.

Peat can be used as a component with garden soil or clay, and it will make the soil plumper. However, it is not necessary to add it very much to the mix as it has high acidity.

On the internet, you can find information about growing Sempervivum in perlite, those who practice it claim that the plant will be comfortable in this substrate. The advantages include ease of root development, no stagnation of water, etc.

All this has the right to exist, and perhaps the plant will grow well in this substrate. However, perlite is not cheap, and is it worth doing if Sempervivum can grow normally in garden soil with 50% of sand?

Rocky soil is well suited for planting these plants. It will be a little harder for the roots to develop, but overall it will be healthy. In such soil, there is no stagnation of water, and plants will not suffer during prolonged rains.

Also, among the stones, Hens & Chicks looks very harmonious as it is their natural environment.

A few years ago, I planted a sempervivum in a stone. Initially, I drill small holes, then poured a little soil there and planted there.

Sempervivum in stone

The result can be seen in the picture. It turns out that plants do not need much soil to exist. However, they suffered from a lack of moisture in the summer, so they had to water more often.

People also ask

What kind of soil do Sempervivum heuffelii like?

For this species, the same substrate as for most sempervivum is suitable. Plant it in a mix of garden soil and sand. In such conditions, it will be most comfortable.

What soil to use for hens and chicks in pots?

For planting in pots, it is better to use a moist substrate. Mix one part garden soil with one part of sand and this will be the best solution.

What are the soil requirements in Sempervivum Oddity?

This variety does not like a lot of moisture, so mix garden soil and sand in equal proportions and plant Sempervivum Oddity there.

Can I use regular potting soil for Hens and Chicks?

Yes, you can use regular soil. Sempervivum is tolerant of most substrate types, so if you can’t create a mix, you can use regular soil.

Can you plant Sempervivum in just rocks?

You can plant Sempervivum in the stones, and they will even grow there. But it will require more watering and more care. So if you are new, I do not recommend doing it.

Can you plant Sempervivum in the sand?

There will be insufficient moisture for the sempervivum, especially in summer, since the water in the sand is not retained. Sand can be used as a compound to create a mix of soil or clay (50%-50%).

Does cobweb houseleek require particular soil?

This species does not require a particular substrate, plant it in the same soil as all other sempervivums.

Can you use topsoil for sempervivums?

Yes, you can use this but only as a component of the mix. Add sand and garden soil to the topsoil so it will be best.

Can Sempervivum grow without soil?

No, this plant needs at least some substrate in which it can develop roots.

What soil to use for Sempervivum Gold Nugget?

For this variety, the same mix as for the other sempervivum will be suitable.