Sempervivum Calcareum Care and Growing Tips

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Are you a beginner gardener looking for a stunning and low-maintenance plant to add to your collection? Look no further! Sempervivum calcareum, also known as houseleek, is the perfect choice for you.

Not only is Sempervivum calcareum beautiful, but it’s also easy to care for and an excellent prospect if you’re starting a new garden.

This stunning succulent thrives in warm, dry climates and does best in full sun to partial shade. It also thrives in sandy, gravelly soil, making it a perfect prospect for landscapes with rock gardens.

Don’t let the stress of caring for high-maintenance plants get you down. Sempervivum calcareum is a low-maintenance plant that will add beauty and elegance to your garden without the hassle.

Take the first step towards a beautiful and stress-free garden by adding Sempervivum calcareum to your collection today.

Now, let’s quickly learn more about Sempervivum calcareum care and growing tips!

Facts About Sempervivum Calcareum

Common NamesHouse Leek, Hens & Chicks
Scientific NameSempervivum calcareum
Plant TypeSucculent, Evergreen Perennial
Mature Size6 to 12 inches tall, 6 to 18 inches wide
Sun ExposureFull Sun to Partial Shade
Soil TypeSandy, Well-drained
Soil pHNeutral
Bloom TimeSummer
Flower ColorLight Pink, Reddish Purple
Hardiness ZonesUSDA Zones 3 to 11
Native AreaEurope & Africa
ToxicityNon-toxic to humans and pets

Also known as Hens & Chicks, the Sempervivum calcareum is one of the most popular hardy succulents, which you can find in the wild between rocks in mountainous areas.

It can also do well in pots, rock gardens, and in dry stone walls and cracks in paving, especially in the company of low evergreen plants like sedums. 

Even though Sempervivum calcareum appears stunning during the winter when there’s a bit of interest in the garden, it would also do well in the summer.

In summer, giant, spherical spikes of greenish-pink blooms come out from the center of mature plants. This plant is most loved because of its unique leaf colors.

Commonly called House Leeks, the Sempervivum calcareum produces striking, robust, grey-green rosettes alongside shade to reddish-brown color at the leaf edges.

Even though it is a low-maintenance plant, if you want your hens & chicks to yield the best result, you must provide them with the best care requirements, following the guidelines below;

Sempervivum Calcareum Care Growing Tips

Sempervivum calcareum is a beautiful evergreen succulent that is easy to care for, making it a perfect beginner plant.

It will only require a few essential cares needs like bright light or full sun, apart from those living in a sweltering, dry climate, which will require partial shade. It will also require well-draining, heavy soil outdoors or cactus mix indoors. 

Read on for the complete highlight of hens & chicks’ essential care requirements:

Sunlight Needs

Sempervivum calcareum is a succulent that requires good sun exposure, as it can thrive in direct sunlight during morning hours.

As such, you’ll know it lacks light whenever you find the rosette leaning one-sided; hence, giving you a sign that it is time to relocate it to a brighter spot. You can grow the houseleek indoors if you position it in a spot with natural light.

Soil Needs

The best soil for your Sempervivum calcareum is a standard cactus or succulent mix. You can create the soil by combining one part coir, two parts pumice, and five parts regular potting soil, encouraging moderate drainage.

Again, during transplanting, always allow your Sempervivum calcareum to dry overnight before replanting, and ensure the soil in the fresh pot dries out completely.

It will allow for easier removal of the plant without root damage. Then, gently remove as much soil as possible before placing it in a new pot with the cactus mix.

Watering Needs

Sempervivum calcareum is a drought-tolerant perennial that can survive long periods without watering.

However, the newly transplanted plants require enough water to mature well. But once they mature, ensure you don’t overwater them, and always check the soil to see if it is dry before water to avoid root rot or death of the plant.

Temperature/Humidity Needs

Sempervivum calcareum is a perennial that can tolerate low temperatures, especially in such cases of severe heat (it depends on where you live). However, this kind of temperature can also burn the plant’s leaves; hence, it would be best to relocate it to an area where it can get morning sun.

As long as humidity is concerned, your Sempervivum calcareum plant will do well in moderate humidity. However, they can survive many different humidity levels, be they high or low, and they are commonly known in dry climates.

Fertilizing Needs

As long as the Sempervivum calcareum is concerned, it is not a heavy feeder. However, you can add a bit of fertilizer to its substrate by applying some banana peel tea or worm humus once a year to enhance its growth.

You can use a slow-release fertilizer for succulents or cacti that’s low in nitrogen, contains beneficial soil microbes, and avoid overfertilization.

Pruning & Maintenance Needs

Sempervivum calcareum does not necessarily require pruning apart from getting rid of dead rosettes after blooming.

Potting & Repotting

Sempervivum calcareum is a perfect succulent plant in pots, indoors or outdoors. It will thrive when you plant it in a shallow, well-drained pot containing a cactus or succulent potting mix.

A clay pot is ideal; it tends to wick moisture to avoid overwintering. You can also grow this plant alone as a little cluster colony or in a big pot as a single plant in a mixed group of succulents or a little rock garden.


Sempervivum calcareum doesn’t need any protection from the winter cold, but hate wet winter conditions. Therefore, wiping away ground debris would help prevent collected moisture from causing rot.

If you put this plant outside, it can be affected by extreme temperatures in cold winter climates; hence, best to keep it in a protected area or take it indoors for the winter.

Types of Sempervivum Calcareum Plant

You will likely find the hens and chicks (Sempervivum calcareum) in two other varieties, Sempervivum tectorum var. arvernense, featuring leaves covered with velvet-like hairs. There is also the Sempervivum tectorum var. tectorum, alongside smooth leaves edged with hairs.

In commercial terms, Sempervivum calcareum has many cultivars produced for various foliage colors and shapes. Some of the most common cultivars include the following;

  • Bernstein, which features copper and gold leaves.
  • Big Blue, which is a stunning variety featuring bluish-green leaves.
  • Black, which is an incredible variety featuring green leaves with purple edges.
  • Terracotta Baby, which is a type that features vibrant orangey-red foliage.
  • Claudia, which is an eye-catching variety that features robust rosettes alongside bright red leaves.
  • Herringer Rose, which features 5-inch rosettes alongside red leaves tinged with brown.
  • Lancelot, a variety that features brownish-red leaves.
  • Morgenrote, which is an attractive variety with plumb-red leaves tinged with green. 
  • Pelora, a unique mutant cultivar with vibrant green, bullet-shaped leaves.

Note: Apart from the abovementioned cultivars, several others are often sold as houseplants. You’ll probably find them lumped together as Sempervivum, with no designated specie.

Sempervivum Calcareum Propagation 

You can propagate your Sempervivum calcareum through various methods, but the most common methods include cuttings and offsets.

Follow the steps below to propagate your Sempervivum calcareum by cuttings or offset methods.

Cuttings Method:

The cuttings propagation method of Sempervivum calcareum will take longer and doesn’t usually bear satisfactory results. If you are propagating this plant by cuttings method, the following steps are required:

  1. Cut a piece of a leaf at least two inches long. 
  2. Ensure the cut is scabbing over, typically taking one or a few days.
  3. Insert the cutting in dry potting soil or cactus mix.
  4. Start occasional watering to enable the soil to dry between each watering completely.

Offsets Method:

To propagate the Sempervivum calcareum by offsets method, the above procedures are required:

  1. Prune about a single or more offset from the parent plant using a pair of pruning shears. 
  2. Then, uproot some of the dirt around the seeds (offsets) to display the slender stem that connects it to the base plant.
  3. Cut the stem and carefully bring out the offset.
  4. Insert the offsets in individual pots, allowing them to dry for one week before you begin to water the plant.

Common Problems With Sempervivum Calcareum

If your Sempervivum calcareum is given the right conditions, it will be a carefree plant. So, it usually encounters issues because of overwatering. In other words, if you overwater your Sempervivum calcareum, it will encounter several problems, some of which are:

Plant Turns Mushy

If you discover the leaves of your plant becoming soft and wilting, it is often a sign of overwatering, which can subsequently lead to rot of the plant.

The roots will start to rot; hence, it would be best to uproot the plant, separate any of the plant’s rosettes that are still safe, and get rid of the bad parts. If it is a regular occurrence, it is often a sign that your soil needs improved drainage by amending it with sand or gravel.

Leaves Die Back

Whenever you notice the leaves of your Sempervivum calcareum dying back after producing flowers and setting seed, it is just a common occurrence for such plants.

However, if you overwater this plant or feed it with excess fertilizer, the plant will subsequently die, even though it will produce flowers.

Common Pests And Diseases Of Sempervivum Calcareum

If you grow Sempervivum calcareum indoors, in a greenhouse, or in excessively moist conditions is most likely to encounter the most significant problems with pests, most of which come as mealybugs and aphids.

If you notice any symptom of an infestation, it is best to get rid of the bugs with cotton swap or cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. 

Another reliable solution to these pests and disease problems is neem oil or insecticidal soap. When your plant is in moist condition or has poor drainage, it can invite different fungal leaf spots or result in root rot.

It would help to keep your Sempervivum calcareum in dry conditions, as it is one of the easiest ways to control or prevent these problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Sempervivum Calcareum Require Overwintering?

You must not overwinter your Sempervivum calcareum, as it doesn’t require any protection from the winter cold. However, this plant hates wet winter conditions; hence, it would be best to clear out ground debris to prevent collected moisture from causing rot.

Do Sempervivum Calcareum Come Back Every Year?

Your Sempervivum calcareum can return yearly if you provide the well-drained soil it requires outdoors. It is a perennial drought-tolerant succulent; hence, it can come back every year until it completes its life cycle.

Is Sempervivum Calcareum An Edible Plant?

Yes. The most edible part of the Sempervivum calcareum is the leaves, which are used for making salads and other dishes, have a slightly sour taste like that of an unripe apple.

Does Sempervivum Calcareum Require Sun Or Shade?

The best condition for your Sempervivum calcareum is full sun. However, for those in a scorching, dry region, it would be best to grow this plant in partial shade, even though the foliage color might not be as vibrant as that of full sun.

Is Sempervivum Calcareum Toxic?

No, Sempervivum calcareum is not a toxic plant; hence it’s safe for kids and pets. It is an edible plant that can be used to make salads and other dishes.


Sempervivum calcareum is a trendy plant that is easy to grow and care for. It is a perfect beginner plant that can suit any position indoors or outdoors.

However, with the suitable growing and care conditions highlighted above, it might produce the stunning foliage and flowers you desire. Happy Gardening!!!

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