Hens and Chicks


According to Wikipedia (which knows everything…. no?), hens and chicks are small succulents native to Europe and North Africa. Hunh. I thought they came from West Virginia because when I was a little girl, my parents got some hens and chicks in West Virginia and brought them back to our yard in Maryland. They were treated as if they were very special. I though they were cute, and they had a cute name, so somehow they stuck in my memory.

They grow close to the ground in a rosette, with a main one that then has “babies” –hence the hen and chicks common appellation. They come in different colors, apparently (according to Wikipedia), but I’ve only ever seen the common green one.

Anyway, hen and chicks are kind of sentimental to me because they remind me of my childhood, so it was a nice surprise when a lovely person brought me a bag full of hens and chicks at the Chickens in the Road party. I remember looking into the bag and being thrilled. I remember speaking with the person who gave them to me. And I don’t remember a thing else. The CITR party is a little overwhelming and fast-paced for me. At one point, my friend Missy (of Pete and Missy, who we got Clover from), arrived and I INTRODUCED MYSELF TO HER. I am not kidding. She was like, Suzanne, you totally know me. (Or something like that.) THAT is what the CITR party is like for me. I would probably introduce myself to my mother, I am that out of it.

So, if you gave me these hens and chicks, would you please say so, because I would like to thank you.

Further, and this is even more embarrassing than everything I’ve written herein so far, those hens and chicks sat in that bag from the day of the CITR party (first week of October) until YESTERDAY. At which point I was sure they were dead, but I am here to tell you what Wikipedia cannot, and that is that you can’t kill hens and chicks.

So we planted the shockingly still alive hens and chicks in a big old-fashioned wash tub full of dirt and by then it was dark so I didn’t take a picture. But that isn’t really the point. The point I want to make here is for those of you who think you kill every plant you touch, who think you have a black thumb, and maybe you are just like me and can imagine yourself leaving some plants someone gave you in a bag for nearly six weeks.



  1. Woodwife says:

    I love hens and chicks. They do come in other colors, the pink-ish purple-ish ones are pretty.

    They’re also known as houseleeks and there is a long tradition of planting them on the roof as they’re supposed to protect the house from fire and lightening.

    Here’s a lovely picture of some on the roof of a shed.

  2. jan~n~tn says:

    If I buy a plant…it will almost always die.
    If someone gives me a plant (or a pot with what looks like remains of a dead stick) it will end up the prettiest/healthiest plant in the house. Don’t know why!

  3. judydee says:

    Unfortunately, I am living proof hens and chicks can be killed. You can kill them with kindness. DO NOT OVERWATER! Also, they must have good drainage. I absoltely love them, but have no luck keeping them alive.

  4. glenda says:

    I have killed hen and chicks several times………..planted them in a strawberry jar that I thought would be super drainage. They rotted.
    I love them. The next time I get some I am going to just toss them on the gravel around the cistern planter and let them be!

  5. Gem says:

    OH MY GOODNESS, if you don’t remind me of myself, I don’t know who does. (I think that is why I like you so much.)

  6. Karen Anne says:

    Let’s hear it for succulents. The other posters are right, they need good drainage and not overwatering. Take a look at the “leaves,” if they’re fat, don’t water. If they’ve gotten thin, it’s time to water.

  7. CindyP says:

    And they reproduce fast! I have them everywhere here from and have given them to everyone in the neighborhood. I’ve got them planted in rocks, in a strawberry planter. and I don’t bother with them at all…they just grown on their own.

  8. wvhomecanner says:

    Ummmm and I am NO help ’cause I remember standing there hearing the nice person telling you that she brought you hens and chicks and I can’t remember who it was either! Forgive me, very nice person! It was a busy day :yes:


  9. Becky says:

    I remember these from my childhood in WV.
    My Grandmother always had them.
    I’d love to have some for our farm here in SC.

  10. Heidi says:

    How cute! I have a hard time with potted plants but not with plants in the ground. I don’t know why!

  11. Lavon says:

    My thumb is so black, I had a mother-in-law’s tongue commit suicide. No kidding!!! It just pushed itself up out of the soil, leaf by leaf. I also had a SILK ficus that dropped all it’s leaves. How’s that for a black thumb?

  12. texwisgirl says:

    Those poor plants were just hanging on until you rediscovered them because they knew you’d love them when you found them – just like everything else at your place. πŸ™‚

  13. hershiesgirl says:

    SUZANNE DON’T DO IT!!! It is BAD (plant) LUCK to thank someone for a gifted plant!!

    Just enjoy your little hens and chicks, the gifter now knows how much you like them πŸ™‚

  14. Deni says:

    I love love love hens & chicks!! It always amazes me when they have made it through another winter! A guy at the flea market was selling them to me for $5 a flat. I intended to take them to the farmers market to sell them but couldnt stand to let them go so now I have a bunch of them!

  15. Rachel says:

    Oh now I want to find a shed without tin on the roof and plant hen and chicks on it!

  16. Jill says:

    I like to put them in odd containers. Then when we have a sale or auction at church, I donate them. And would you believe that people tell me that they can’t get them to grow?? I have the original black thumb and they grow for me. Stick them in dirt and ignore them, they’ll grow!

  17. Merlin says:

    Oh, I love those plants! They thrive so well in potted planters with good drainage (as they are invasive – best left in a big pot, tub, or whatever, unless you don’t care if they spread in an area you don’t worry about). I had them when I lived in Northwestern Arkansas, and all I had to do was cover them with either leaves or plastic wrap with rubber band around the pot during winter, and they’ll come right back up when it got warm again. :sun:

  18. Bonnie says:

    This is so funny, as I opened a bag this morning that my sister in law had given me..Guess what was in it hen and chickens. I was going out to plant them and thought I would read face book and Chickens in the Road first. My mom had them also, reminds me of home.

  19. prayingpup says:

    I love them, also – have had them many times. I plan some for the spring here – yep – best to ignore them!

  20. Lisa says:

    My grandma had those around the yard when I was a kid, I love them too..good memories :heart:

  21. Lana says:

    Lisa – my grandmother had them in her yard, too. Great memories! This was in southern California, though – I didn’t know that hen and chickens would grow in cold weather. I wonder if they would survive here in Phoenix in the extreme heat. I have a perfect area for them in my backyard, which is full of wild rabbits (which I love to watch!) I wonder if they would eat them…..

  22. Marge says:

    I love hens & chicks, too. I have them in 2-big clay strawberry pots and they do great…with very little care. I live in west Michigan, Zone 5…our winters are COLD so hubby puts the pots in the garage and they do great even with outside temps in the minuses at times.

    I hope your hens & chicks thrive and have lots of “babies,” Suzanne πŸ™‚

  23. MMT says:

    I too love my hen & chicks. Years ago my husband cut down a dead ash tree for firewood. There was a big chunk of the trunk that I wanted to keep to set potted plants on, on the deck. It had several branches coming out in different directions that he cut off so they were flat and horizontal with the ground and the pots set really nicely on them. Where each branch came out of the trunk was a pit (kind of like an armpit) that I dug out a little deeper and put some potting soil in and planted hen & chicks in each pit. They did really well and have thrived for years. Everybody always comments on how cool my stump planter looks although the wood on the stump is beginning to deteriorate, I just love it. May have to start watching for another branching trunk section to replace it. I live in central Illinois and never cover or put it inside during the winter and although I thought I had killed it after the first winter, it comes back beautifully each year.

  24. trish c says:

    this whole post made me laugh!

  25. B. Ruth says:

    Did you know that when a mature hen blooms….and sometimes it takes years….she dies just like “mean old rooster”..just croaks, no fowl play, nothing…just wilts and goes on to never never land…but by then the little chicks are well on their way to becoming mature hens…and the process starts all over again…just chickens reincarnate….ohhhhh….
    plus the bloom stem is not a pretty site in my humble opinion…just sayin’

  26. Valerie says:

    I just adore Hens and Chicks. But here in Minnesota, my zone 3 is too cold for them. When I lived in NJ, we had a rock retaining wall along my driveway. I dug out little holes between the rocks, and planted bunches of H&C with a sandy loam soil, and they thrived. Wish I could have them here… πŸ˜₯

  27. Angela says:

    Hey Suzanne!

    I was the one who brought you the bag of hens & chicks to your party! You are so right about them. They are the easiest plant to take care of. I started with a few and now have 2 strawberry pots full of them and a hanging basket full of them. I leave them out year round and I don’t water them at all. They are pretty much the only plant that I can have around here! I did do a post about my hens and chickens this summer. I have several pictures of them. You’ll be interested in the hanging basket! https://wvtreasures.blogspot.com/2010/07/finished-garden-project-part-3.html

    Glad you liked them and they brought back some memories for you! :happyflower:

    Angela :wave:

  28. drucillajoy says:

    I have them planted in old shoes, & just leave them out all year ’round…they always seem to do well & I am in {{{c-cold}}} NY

  29. Angela says:

    Hey Suzanne!

    I knew you would like the hanging basket! It was easy to get started. I just took a knife and poked holes in the basket’s lining. Then I put a hen or a chick :chicken: in it that had the longest roots. I scattered them randomly around the basket. I then planted the ones with the short roots on top. It did take a few years for my basket to look like that but it was well worth it! I do leave the basket outside year round but I don’t leave it hanging in the winter. I take it down and put it beside my house under my hedges. It does fine. I am expecting that the main hen will have the flower in it this summer. My hens in my strawberry pots have went to flower a few times. It does take a few years before that happens.

    Angela :wave:

  30. Amy says:

    I am notorious for killing every plant I touch. However, I managed to keep my hens and chicks for 5 years! I was so proud. Then, along came my 3 year old son. He rammed some sticks down in the hens and chicks pot repeatedly and just tore those little things to pieces. They never recovered. Just so you all know hens and chicks WILL die if impaled with sticks repeatedly…or they will if it’s done by my toddler anyway. πŸ˜‰

  31. maryann says:

    Yes we grow them too (on the East side of Michigan) and have killed them by accident by forgetting to replant and they drowned. Make sure that the soil is part sand so that it can drain well. We have ours in a rock garden that has soil in pockets and it seems to work well.

  32. Suzanne Perry says:

    I grow them in my rock walls. I love being able to go out and find a place that is a little thicker with them and just pull one out and stick it in a hole. They are fun little plants.

  33. Vicki in So. CA says:

    I, too, love hens and chicks. I knew I’d seen them at the Getty Museum (I live a 1/2 hour from there). And I’m not the only one who remembered them there. Here’s a link to pics of the different kinds they have:
    Also on the same blog, a picture of a succulent garland! There’s gotta be a hens and chicks in there somewhere!
    Wow. How creative is that? πŸ˜€

  34. Runningtrails says:

    lol, Suzanne! I do sympathize!

  35. JOJO says:

    I love my hens and chickens and have several pots of them, in the winter I pick several of the small ones and put them into a pot of soil and put them in my planters window (like Suzannes) they grown and are something green to look at in the winter and in the spring I live a whole little flock of hens and chickens to share or to put outside again.

  36. Debbie F. says:

    We visited my grandparents at their home in Malden W VA as often as we could during my childhood. I have very fond memories of my Grandmother’s garden and among the many plants she grew were Hens n Chicks. We traveled a great deal because my father was in the military and nowhere else had I seen (or have I seen to this day) as large of a collection of these plants like my Grandmother had.

  37. princessvanessa says:

    Hens and chicks grow well in western Washington state, too. They thrived amongst the wall of rocks that made up the terrace in my folks yard. I only know of the green ones as well. They have special meaning to me as well.

  38. lavenderblue says:

    One of the joys of my childhood was the squinching sound hens and chickens made when you walked on them. My mom had them planted on either side of the step down from the patio and I often “accidentally” stepped on them coming down that step. The day she caught me walking across the rocks in her rock garden that she had planted with them was the day I quit making so many missteps, though. She was not happy. :bugeyed: And I am here to testify that, yes, yes, they are quite hardy and can take a lot of abuse. πŸ˜†

  39. Senta Sandberg says:

    I love Hen and Chicks too. I have not seen colors but I have some mini hens and chicks. They are really cute. I really love the shed with all the hens and chicks on the roof. What a great idea. Maybe the roof of the chicken house needs some hens and chicks.

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