Echeveria Vs Sempervivum: Key Differences

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Are you a succulent enthusiast who can’t get enough of the stunning “Hens & Chicks” plant? If so, you may have noticed the striking similarity between Echeveria vs Sempervivum.

These two plants share a rosette pattern, thick fleshy leaves, and even the same common name – but don’t be fooled! Despite their similarities, Echeveria and Sempervivum are actually quite different.

In this article, we’ll explore the unique features of each plant, from their distinct color variations to the environments in which they thrive. So whether you’re a seasoned succulent collector or just starting out, read on to discover the fascinating differences between Echeveria and Sempervivum.

What Is Echeveria?

Native to the semi-desert areas of Mexico, the Echeveria is a rose-shaped succulent plant that you can easily care for and is hardy to drought. It features various gorgeous colors, and sizes, and blooms readily, with flower colors ranging from coral-pink, yellow-edge, or reddish-orange.

Also, unlike most other succulents, the Echeveria is a rapid grower, perfect as ground covers, and thrives in containers. Thanks to its adaptability and eye-catching feats, this plant has become everyone’s favorite and is popular in nurseries and garden centers.

For instance, it has become a notable prospect in coastal California at specialty purveyors such as Succulent Gardens in Castroville and Annie’s Annuals and Perennials in the East Bay.

Echeveria comes in stunning colors, including pink, green, white, and red, producing its stunning look and bringing drama to any garden, centerpiece, or bouquet.

What Is Sempervivum?

The Sempervivum species are commonly called Hens & Chicks and are among the most popular hardy succulents in the wild between rocks in mountainous areas. These plants are suitable in containers, rock gardens, dry stone walls, and cracks in paving, mainly when grown alongside low evergreen plants such as sedums. 

Although the Sempervivum often grows best during the winter when there’s a bit of interest in the garden, it thrives in the summer. For instance, during the summer, tall, spherical spikes of greenish-pink flowers emerge from the center of mature plants. This plant is very enticing, thanks to its unique leaf colors.

The Sempervivum has different varieties and species, including House Leeks (Sempervivum calcareum). The Sempervivum calcareum variety features striking, large, grey-green rosettes with shade to reddish-brown color at the leaf tips.

Although it is easy to care for, if you want your hens & chicks to produce the best result, you must provide them with the best watering, sunlight, soil, and fertilizing requirements.

Echeveria vs Sempervivum

Its scientific family is Crassulaceae in genus echeveriaIts scientific family is Crassulaceae in Genus Sempervivum with over 40 species
Mexican Snowball, Wax Agave, Hens and Chicks are its common namesHouse Leek, Live Forever, Forever Alive, Hens and Chicks are its common names.
Its rosette size is one to five inches acrossIts rosette size is one inch to 20 inches across
Leaves are poon-shaped, gray, green, or bluish in color. Thicker than sempervivumLeaves are narrower than those of echeveriathey have pointy tips and are grayish-green to reddish-brown in color.
White, orange, pink, or red bell-shaped flowers emerge from stalks that rise up through the leaves.Pink, red, or orange star-shaped flowers originate at the end of fleshy stems that are 6-10 inches tall. 
Offsets reproduce outward from a single base stem and form clumps around the mother plant.Reproduced from offsets attached to a stem that can take root. The stem breaks easily so the offset can form its own roots.      
Native to Central America, Mexico, NW South AmericaGrows wild in Morocco, Iran, the Alps, Turkey, Sahara Desert
Hardy in zones 9 to 12 and can tolerate winter temperatures as low as 20 degree Fahrenheit.Zone 4-9. Can withstand -25°F winter temperature
Non-toxic to humans and petsNon-toxic to humans and pets.
Floral arrangement, terrarium, container, living wall, rock garden, and house plant.Groundcover, terrarium, rock garden, house plant.

Differences Between Echeveria and Sempervivum

As mentioned earlier, the Echeveria and the Sempervivum are two different plants, irrespective of their striking resemblance. In other words, you will find notable differences despite sharing some identical features.

Read on to discover the most common differences between Echeveria and the Sempervivum.

1. Origin & Location

The first and one of the most significant differences to identify is the origin and location of the plant, as it will help you know exactly how to grow or care for the plant after figuring it out. Sempervivum is resistant to frost, whereas Echeveria is not frost-resistant.

In other words, Sempervivum is native to colder climates such as Europe; hence, since it often experiences winter yearly, it can deal with it, making it an ideal outdoor plant.

On the other hand, many Echeveria is native to regions such as Mexico; hence, they like heat and will hardly survive under cold.

2. Hardiness

In terms of hardiness, both the Echeveria and Sempervivum share different zones. For instance, several echeveria species will thrive in hardiness zones 9 to 11. They can also survive indoor conditions with adequate lighting, minimal watering, and neglect.

For those living in frost regions during the fall and winter, it would be best to grow Echeveria in pots that you can relocate indoors to protect them.

On the other hand, every sempervivum species can tolerate hardiness zones 4 to 10. In other words, they will do best in cold but dry areas, as they are the perfect conditions required to enable them to produce stunning colors.  

3. Color & Foliage

Another significant way to separate these plants is by their appearance and foliage. In other words, Sempervivum and Echeveria also have different colors and foliage, as the Sempervivum features ranges of gray-green, red, red-brown, pink, and orange.

Whereas the Echeveria commonly produces gray, blue, and green colors.

Again, Sempervivum produces narrower leaves than Echeveria and has pointy edges. The Echeveria often comes with plump, spoon-shaped, and rounded leaves.

The earlier also produces smaller rosettes than the latter and grows to about 1 to 5 inches in diameter, growing in clusters. In contrast, the latter has broader and thicker leaves, growing to about ¾ to 20 inches wide.

4. Common Names

This point might not be as satisfying as others in this article, but people and animals are differentiated by their name, and so are plants, including the Echeveria and Sempervivum.

For instance, Echeveria is called Hens & Chicks, Mexican Snowball, and Wax Agave Plant, while Sempervivum is called House Leek and Forever Plant.

Again, many people also call Sempervivum Live forever plant due to its cold-hardy nature and ability to return even after a hard freeze. However, both plants resemble a mother hen surrounded by her babies, so they share a similar common name, Hens & Chicks.

5. Chicks Positioning

As we have mentioned earlier, both the Echeveria and Sempervivum have the same common name because they resemble a mother hen surrounded by her chicks. However, the mode of chicks positioning around both plants is quite different. 

For instance, echeveria chicks usually hang out underneath their mother “hen” and are usually not seen until you move leaves around or they grow much bigger.

On the other hand, sempervivum chicks are very visible, as they often grow beside their mother “hen” instead of under the displeasure of her rosette like the former. They usually hug close to their mother also.

6. Flowers

Echeveria often produces flowers during the spring and summer when it is in the most active growing period. It will become a long stem that forms many stunning flowers and can do so more than once in this period.

On the other hand, the sempervivum flower occurs just once but goes out with a bang. It produces giant, stunning flowers from the center of the plant before the mother plant dies. But before then, it forms abundant offsets to savor.

7. Offsets 

Sempervivum forms offset that grows from an independent plant known as stolon, which can detach from the main plant and produce its root system. Conversely, Echeveria forms offset that develop from one base stem but grow together to create clusters.

8. Propagation

You can hardly propagate the Sempervivum by stem or leaf, and the best way to do so is by taking the offsets from the plant and repotting them. You can also propagate this plant by seed method.

On the other hand, the best way to propagate Echeveria is by stem cutting, offset, or leaf. However, you can also propagate from seeds.

How is Echeveria and Sempervivum Similar?

Despite the glaring differences highlighted above, the Echeveria and Sempervivum share some striking similarities, especially since they are succulent plants. Most people often mistake one for the other because of their similar nature.

They both bear the same common name, ‘Hens & Chicks’, even though they are a bit different in their positioning.

Again, both Echeveria and Sempervivum have similar looks and grow in a rosette pattern, producing thick, plump, fleshy stems and leaves. Their leaves can also preserve water. They also originate from the same family but different genera and reproduce similarly by bearing offsets.


Without a closer look, you would mistake Echeveria for Sempervivum, as succulents do well in dry, hot conditions. They also grow in a rosette pattern called “Hens and Chicks.”

However, the Sempervivum can tolerate cold and frost more than the Echeveria, and they thrive in different environments and have different colors, amongst other differences.

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