Plant DetailShow Menu

Sempervivum

Phonetic Spelling
sem-per-VEE-vum
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

The Live-forever succulent or Sempervivum says it all.  The Latin word 'Sempervivum' means 'forever alive'. 

These plants grow in small rosettes that sit low to the ground, offsets densely packed on long stolons.  The offsets are produced each season, are simple to separate, and make propagation an easy process.  These offsets are why the plant is often called "Hens & Chicks" and allow the plant to seem to live forever. 

They grow best in full to part sun, especially with some afternoon shade, and well-drained compost containing up to 50% sand or other gritty soils.  Any location that provides sunlight and good drainage will serve as an excellent spot to grow.  They prefer growing zones where they can enjoy cool nights and cold-dormant seasons.   

They flourish where many other plants would wither and die.  Such locations include in trays or other containers, in the ground, on wood, or in rock piles.  Many of the varieties are frost-hardy and thrive in much colder temperatures than other succulents.  For those that are not, they can be brought indoors in the cooler months. Additionally, they are not as heat-tolerate as other succulents, especially in climate zones 8 and above.

They make a great addition to dish gardens, terrariums, and other small arrangements such as in seashells.

This succulent is monocarpic, with 'mono' meaning once and 'caprice' relating to fruit.  After flowering once, the mother plant will die, but the fruits will have produced seeds for reproduction.  In addition, the mother plants' offsets or pups will continue to reproduce vegetatively.  A mother plant can flourish and continue to produce offsets for many years before flowering.  Overcrowded plants can cause a plant to bloom early, indicating that it was not happy in its current living conditions.  

Quick ID:

  • Low-growing, small rosettes surrounded by many offsets
  • Leaves may be lined with fine hairs or "spiderweb" structures
  • Cymes of star-shaped flowers with 6+ petals

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti", a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Juniper Level Botanic Gardens: Muscadine Bed
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Oh My', S. tectorum
Tags:
#heat tolerant#houseplant#drought tolerant#low growing#succulent#easy to grow#low maintenance#stolons#spreading#frost tolerant#groundcover#easy to propagate#multicolored#cold tolerant#poor soils tolerant#compact habit#rocky soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#guilford crevice garden#easy to grow houseplant#hsc#hsc-s
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Oh My', S. tectorum
Tags:
#heat tolerant#houseplant#drought tolerant#low growing#succulent#easy to grow#low maintenance#stolons#spreading#frost tolerant#groundcover#easy to propagate#multicolored#cold tolerant#poor soils tolerant#compact habit#rocky soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#guilford crevice garden#easy to grow houseplant#hsc#hsc-s
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sempervivum
    Family:
    Crassulaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eurasia and Africa
    Play Value:
    Colorful
    Easy to Grow
    Textural
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Houseplant
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Succulent
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Dense
    Horizontal
    Prostrate
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    After the flower dies, a small, dry, seed-filled fruit is produced.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The center of a plant pushes upwards, turning into a flower stalk. The stalk can grow up to 1' in height. The leaves at the end of the stalk will appear to peel back to reveal a cluster of buds. The star-shaped flowers grow on cymes and have six or more petals. While the flowering rosette will die, the offsets will continue to live on.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Feel:
    Fleshy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Obovate
    Spatulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The spiky, pointed leaves form a tight rosette of foliage. The stolons that emerge from the mother plant will have alternately arranged leaves. Leaf morphology varies between species. Thick and fleshy, the green foliage can be trimmed with red, purple and fine hairs. When grown in bright sunlight, the leaf margins may develop a reddish color. May feel thinner and more flexible than other genera of succulents.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heat
    Humidity
    Poor Soil
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Unknown if ingested; skin irritation from cell sap.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Alkaloids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Leaves