Sempervivum tectorum is one of the most common succulents found in homes and gardens. These plants are native to Europe but have been introduced worldwide by humans, where they are now invasive weeds. The tumbleweed-like rosettes form mats on rocky hillsides or as a groundcover beneath other vegetation. Sempervivum tectorum is also known as common houseleek, live-forever, or hens and chicks succulents.
The plants are adapted to survive the harsh conditions of the Mediterranean climate with their thick, fleshy leaves and need little water or soil. The rosettes grow in tight clumps that can spread rapidly and cover an area quickly. They will then produce offsets (chicks) which may be left attached to the parent plant supplying a constant supply of young plants.
The plant has many varieties, including sempervivum tectorum ‘Major’, a variety of Sempervivum that produces leaves with broader segments; and Sempervivum arachnoideum (spiderweb houseleeks), which have cobweb-like stems near the rosettes that give the leaves a hairy appearance.
There are many legends and beliefs associated with this plant, including vernalization (requiring cold temperatures before sprouting) as protection against premature growth; medieval use in treating cancerous tumors and ulcers by applying the juice from crushed leaves onto wounds or sores; promoting fertility and preventing miscarriages; protection against the evil eye – the belief that some people can cast curses or bad luck on others just by looking at them, especially from a distance.
The plant’s scientific name is derived from Latin words that mean “always alive” because of its ability to grow in inhospitable environments. The rosettes will die back in the winter and re-emerge from the ground each spring.
Origin and description
Sempervivum tectorum is a type of succulent perennial plant native to Europe but has been introduced worldwide by humans where it’s now an invasive weed that grows as rosettes forming mats on rocky hillsides or as a ground cover beneath other vegetation. The plant is adapted to survive the harsh conditions of the Mediterranean climate with its thick, fleshy leaves and needs little water or soil.
Sempervivum tectorum is a low-growing succulent found in the mountains of central and southern Europe. It thrives as an evergreen house plant in dry conditions, such as on roofs or ledges where it can gather water from fog and dew.
The common name ‘tectorum’ is derived from its use in roofing where it was known as “mossy stonecrop.”
Inside information about Sempervivum tectorum
Leaves: Thick, fleshy pads set up in 3 to 4 inches rosettes. The leaves are normally pointed, some of them also have purple tips. Also, there are many varieties with green leaves and tones of red.
Flowers: An odd-looking thick flower stalk with star-shaped flowers at the tip of red or mauve-pink is produced by the fully grown plants. The flower stalk grows up to 8 to 12 inches prior to flowering. When the plant flowers, the mother plant then dies.
Typical Names: Sempervivum tectorum, Houseleek, Roof Home Leek
Hardiness Zone: Sempervivum tectorum are extensively adaptable.
Sun exposure: Partial shade to full sun. Sempervivum tectorum grows best in an area with full sun, however, some afternoon shades will be valued, in incredibly hot environments.
Fully grown Size: These plants are not tall, other than when they stretched out to flower. Anticipate your Sempervivum tectorum plants to reach a size of about 3 and 6 inches, 6 inches high, and 12 inches wide.
Flower Duration: Sempervivum tectorum are not always grown for their flowers, however, when they finally do, it is common during summertime.
Varieties of Sempervivum tectorum
There are numerous varieties, however, you’ll most likely need to visit a specialized nursery or brochure to discover the majority of them. The majority of nurseries merely offer the common Sempervivum tectorum
Sempervivum tectorum ‘Boissieri’ – Bronze tinged leaves that have rusty tips.
Sempervivum tectorum ‘Sundown’ – Brilliant green leaves with tones of orange and red.
Sempervivum tectorum ‘Curiosity’ – Intense green leaves with black tips and quilled edges.
Sempervivum arachnoideum (Cobweb houseleek) – Associated types with white threads, like a web, throughout the rosette.
Sempervivum tectorum propagation
Sempervivum tectorum reproduces by either seed or division.
Seed propagation can be done in the garden as long as it is kept moist and with good drainage, although this may take up to two years before a mature plant is produced. Some people prefer to purchase their plants already started from nurseries or grow them indoors.
The plant can also be propagated by division. To do this, use a sharp knife to sever the rosette from its roots and then pot it up in a suitable medium such as cactus mix or fast-draining soil. It will take about six months for new growths to appear before full maturity is reached.
Growing Sempervivum tectorum from Seed
The seeds can easily be sprinkled over a gravel mix or soil and kept reasonably damp till they grow. Some fine gravel also needs to be sprinkled around them as mulch once they grow. Seeds are typically begun in pots and after that moved to the garden as seedlings. The seed can be started in the fall and then transplant in the spring.
How to Divide Sempervivum tectorum
Naturally, sempervivum tectorum will spread out by underground roots. Expect each plant to multiply itself by at least 4 times during the growing season, by producing little offset plantlets all around the border of the ‘Hen.’ These are the ‘Chicks.’ These Chicks can be replanted in other places at any time by snapping them.
Sempervivum tectorum, frequently called houseleek originated from the southern European mountains. It is a mat-forming succulent, evergreen that generally forms rosettes, up to 4 inches across 50 to 60 thick glabrous leaves (up to 1.5 to 3 inches long) that are often purple-tipped.
Rosette foliage generally grows to 4 inches high. The mother rosette, which is called the hen, spreads out in all instructions by horizontal stems to form the small babies (offsets) and they are called ‘chicks’.
During the summer season, leafy, pubescent, upright blooming stalks increase from the hen up to 12 inches high topped with cymes of red-purple flowers.
Immediately after the hen blooms, it sets seed and passes away leaving the chicks to complete the cycle and spread, thus the often used common name for this plant.
These plants are mainly grown in gardens because of their uncommon and attractive foliage.
Sempervivum was once planted on roofs of homes in Europe for a variety of factors, consisting of fending off fire or lightening, holding slates in place, and supplying emergency salad food in the winter season.
Genus name originated from two Latin words ‘semper’ which means ‘always’ and ‘vivus’ which means ‘alive’ or ‘living’.
Particular epithet originated from the Latin words ‘tectum’ which means roof.
When planted in groups or massed, they grow best and can be used in border front, rock garden, rock crevices, ground cover, along stone walls, and so on.
Sempervivum tectorum care
Sempervivum tectorum thrives in the shaded soil of a rock garden, where it can grow during periods of direct sunshine or full shade.
Thus, the plant adapts well to areas that are typically shady and moist with dappled sunlight. It is important not only for sempervivums to be happy in their environment but also for us to understand how they grow and what they need.
Sempervivum tectorum thrives in shaded soil that is moist with dappled sunlight, so it’s important to provide them with the appropriate potting mix.
The ideal container should be well-drained and have plenty of space for air circulation around each plant, as sempervivums require excellent drainage conditions. We also recommend using a potting mix that is not too acidic, as sempervivums are sensitive to an extreme pH level.
A typical soil composition for this plant includes peat and sand mixed together with compost or leaf mould. This mixture also works well because it provides drainage while retaining moisture in the surface layer of the soil where the plants can access it.
Sempervivums thrive in a range of conditions and are easy to grow. They do best when planted into well-aerated, nutrient-rich soil that is rich in organic material such as compost or leaf mould.
Sempervivum tectorum thrives in shaded soil, so it’s important to avoid fertilizer that provides too much nitrogen.
Rather than providing nutrients through chemical fertilizers, sempervivums do well when fed with compost or leaf mould from the forest floor. The addition of organic material such as this will provide natural nutrients and help keep the soil moist.
Sempervivums also need a balanced supply of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to ensure healthy growth; so it’s worth considering adding blood meal or manure if you have access to these materials.
In order to provide your sempervivums with an excellent growing environment in which they will thrive, we recommend using peat and sand mixed together with compost or leaf mould. This mixture will provide the ideal drainage conditions for your plant while retaining moisture in the surface layer of the soil where they can access it.
Watering and humidity
Sempervivum tectorum thrives in moderate humidity and can be watered more often than most other succulents. For this reason, it is a popular choice for many cacti collections as well as large outdoor urns or containers that get frequent morning sun exposure on the east side of the house. Because of its need for frequent watering, it is not recommended as a houseplant.
According to garden expert and author of “The New Plant Lover’s Guide” Patricia Lanza: “Sempervivum tectorum require some water every day but then can go three or four days without being watered. They are one of the most drought-tolerant succulents and are among the easiest to grow.”
Sempervivum tectorum thrives in full sun, but will also tolerate partial shade. It can survive exposure to temperatures as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 degrees Celsius). For best results, plant on a slope with the crown just below soil level and mulch between plants to retain water around their roots during dry spells.
The ideal temperature for Sempervivum tectorum is 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 24 degrees Celsius).
Sempervivums are able to survive in a variety of temperatures, but the most ideal temperature range is between 50 and 60 degrees. These plants can withstand frosty weather with no problem at all! They grow well in dry, rocky soil or in the sand with a little bit of moisture.
Sempervivums grow best in a potting mix with plenty of organic material, such as peat moss and coarse sand. A good rule of thumb is to use one part of commercial potting soil for every two parts of other ingredients. As these plants are slow-growing, they should be repotted only once or twice per year – just make sure the new pot is one size larger.
Sempervivum tectorum should be pruned in the spring or late fall. When trimming, cut back only one-third of the plant’s height to encourage new growth.
Pruning sempervivums is important for them to maintain their natural shape and size. Prune dead leaves by cutting at ground level – don’t pull the leaf away from the plant because it might get pruned, too!
Sempervivums are hardy little plants that can grow in full sun to partial shade. They thrive on a slope with their crown just below soil level and mulch between plants helps keep water around during dry spells.
Sempervivum tectorum is a perennial plant that thrives in zones 3 through 9. This hardy succulent can be found climbing up the sides of rocks, fences, and even trees near you!
Pests and diseases
The most common pest of Sempervivum tectorum is Aphids. The insects feed on the plant’s sap and cause stunted growth. If left uncontrolled, aphids will also lead to a decline in flowering as well as leaf loss.
Another pest that preys on sempervivum are beetles that eat holes into the leaves and stems.
Sempervivum tectorum can get a disease called Aster Yellows that looks like water-soaked spots on the leaves and flowers; this is an uncommon occurrence though.
Designing your garden with Sempervivum tectorum
Sempervivum tectorum can be used in the garden, however, they can get lost. Planting a big patch or using them along edges will assist them in standing out.
Planting them in a pot while raising the pot off the ground will make them more featured. A timeless method to feather them remains in strawberry pots, though they will need to be divided as they grow out of the pot. They are likewise natural with some hypertufa planter or any sort of stone container.
You have the ideal environment for growing Sempervivum tectorum if there is a rock wall or rock garden. Let them curtain over a rock wall or tuck them into the crevices. Stone offers the best balance of drainage, convected heat, and protection of their roots.
Another choice is blending creeping sedum with Sempervivum tectorum, to make a great yard option in no traffic spots.