sempervivum

Sempervivum is an easy to grow evergreen perennial perfect for xeriscaping, in a mixed perennial border, or grown with other Mediterranean herbs. They are hardy to USDA Zone 6 and bloom all summer long with fragrant musky foliage.

Hens and Chicks have been cultivated as far back as ancient Roman times. Romans grew them in vases in front of their houses and brought them along when they colonized Western Europe. A belief that Hens and Chicks protected against lightning developed from an apparent resemblance of the plants to the god Jupiter. Clean-shaven Romans thought that the plants looked like the bearded god. Former common name “Jupiter’s Beard” alludes to this fact. Later, Emperor Charlemagne ordered houseleeks to be planted on all roofs to prevent fire.

These evergreen succulents provide drought tolerant, low-maintenance color and texture all year. Hens and Chicks are fun to plant in combinations for morning sun locations. Try pairing Sempervivum with ferns for an interesting take on the “urban forest” theme. Alternatively, filling a large bonsai pot with a mixture of hardy cacti and succulents, including Hens and Chicks, makes a stunning addition to sunny outdoor spaces. They are perfect for rock gardens, rock walls, living walls, and are commonly planted in living roofs. In addition, they attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

sempervivum
Sempervivum

Sempervivum bear sweet, star-shaped flowers with eight to sixteen petals. They are usually pink, red, white, or occasionally yellow. Jovibarba, another genus called Hens and Chicks, can be distinguished from Sempervivum by their bell-shaped, pale yellow flowers. It’s exciting to see stalks shoot up that are topped with a cluster of soft flower buds. In fact, the growing flower stalk is called a rooster!

sempervivum
Sempervivum sending up bloom stalk.

Leaves of Sempervivum can be used in a similar manner to Aloe vera to treat minor burns, insect bites, and skin injuries. Flavonoids in the leaves contribute to their anti-inflammatory properties. Also, the leaves the Common Houseleek, Sempervivum tectorum, can be added to salads for crunch and a cucumber-like flavor.

In addition to the fifty wild species of Sempervivum, there are also thousands of named varieties in cultivation. Because Sempervivum are monocarpic, (each plant grows, flowers, sets seed, then dies), choose a pot with more than one rosette. Each rosette develops from the “mother” plant, and the rosette “pups” will continue to grow and divide after the “mother” rosette dies. Plants in the Sempervivum genus can also reproduce by seed.

Some varieties you can find at Portland Nursery include:

sempervivum 'Black ’
Sempervivum ‘Black’ - Photo Credit: Doreen Wynja.

Sempervivum ‘Black’

During the growing season, green rosettes with dark purple tips add contrast to a succulent pathway. As the weather cools, the whole rosette darkens to a purplish-bronze for showy fall color.

Grows 6-12” tall by 6-12”.

Zones 5-10.

sempervivum 'Green Wheel ’
Sempervivum ‘Green Wheel’

Sempervivum ‘Green Wheel’

‘Green Wheel’- Apple green leaves form tight rosettes. Light pink flowers in summer.

Grows 4-6” tall by 6-12” wide.

Zones 4-10.

Sempervivum ‘Red Beauty’

‘Red Beauty’- Frosted, gray-green leaves during the growing season. Red tips in winter. Pink flowers in summer.

Grows 4-8” tall by 8-12” wide.

Zones 4-10..

sempervivum 'Royal Ruby’
Sempervivum ‘Royal Ruby’

Sempervivum ‘Royal Ruby’

‘Royal Ruby’ Burgundy leaves with gray-green tips. Purple flowers in summer.

Grows 4-8” tall by 8-12” wide.

Zones 4-10.

<em>Sempervivum arachnoideum </em> ‘Cobweb'
Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Cobweb'

Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Cobweb'

Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Cobweb’-Small green rosettes with white hairs that look like webbing among the leaves.

Grows 2-4 inches tall by 6-12 inches wide.

Zones 5-8.

Find the Best Perennials for your Garden

We have a wonderful selection of perennials year round, but if you are looking for a specific perennial we will have the best selection when it is in bloom around town. Note: Native plant pages will take you into the Native Plant section.

Perennials

Actaea: Bugbane

Natives

Native Actaea: Bugbane

Perennials

Agastache: Hyssop

Perennials

Anemone: Windflower

Perennials

Aquilegia: Columbine

Natives

Native Aquilegia: Columbine

Perennials

Artemisia

Natives

Asarum: Wild Ginger

Natives

Asclepias: Milkweed

Perennials

Aster

Perennials

Astilbe: False Spirea

Perennials

Bellium: Miniature Daisy

Perennials

Bergenia: Pigsqueak

Perennials

Brunnera: Bugloss

Perennials

Canna Lily

Natives

Camassia: Camas

Perennials

Chrysanthemum

Perennials

Coreopsis: Tickweed

Perennials

Corydalis

Perennials

Cyclamen

Bulbs

Dahlia

Bulbs

Delosperma: Ice Plant

Perennials

Delphinium: Larkspur

Perennials

Dianthus: Carnation

Perennials

Dicentra: Bleeding Heart

Natives

Dodecatheon: Shooting Star

Perennials

Echinacea: Coneflower

Perennials

Epimedium

Natives

Erigeron: Fleabane

Natives

Eriophyllum: Oregon Sunshine

Perennials

Erodium: Alpine Geranium

Perennials

Eupatorium: Joe-Pye Weed

Perennials

Euphorbia: Spurge

Natives

Fragaria: Wild Strawberry

Bulbs

Fritillaria

Perennials

Hardy Fuchsia

Perennials

Hardy Geranium

Perennials

Geum: Avens

Perennials

Helenium: Sneezeweed

Perennials

Hellebore

Perennials

Hellebore: Gold Collection

Perennials

Hellebore: Winter Jewel

Perennials

Heuchera: Coral Bells

Perennials

Hosta: Plantain Lily

Perennials

Iberis: Candytuft

Bulbs

Iris

Natives

Native Iris

Perennials

Kniphofia: Red Hot Poker

Perennials

Leptinella

Perennials

Leucanthemum: Shasta Daisy

Natives

Lewisia: Bitterroot

Perennials

Ligularia

Perennials

Monarda: Bee Balm

Perennials

Moss

Bulbs

Narcissus: Daffodil

Perennials

Paeonia: Peony

Perennials

Papaver: Poppy

Perennials

Parahebe

Natives

Penstemon: Beard Tongue

Perennials

Perovskia: Russian Sage

Perennials

Primula: Primrose

Perennials

Rudbeckia: Black-eyed Susan

Perennials

Salvia

Perennials

Santolina: Lavender Cotton

Perennials

Sedum

Perennials

Evergreen Sedum

Natives

Native Sedum: Stonecrop

Perennials

Sempervivum: Hen & Chicks

Natives

Sidalcea: Checker Mallow

Natives

Sisyrinchium

Blue-eyed Grass
Natives

Solidago: Goldenrod

Natives

Synthyris: Native Figwort

Perennials

Top Shade Perennials

Perennials

Top Sun Perennials

Perennials

Tricyrtis: Toad Lily

Natives

Trillium: Wake Robin

Bulbs

Tulip

Natives

Vancouveria: Inside-out Flower

Perennials

Vinca: Periwinkle

Perennials

Viola: Violet

Natives

Native Viola: Violet

Perennials

Zantedeschia: Calla Lily