Don’t let this collection of cute little hens-and-chicks (sempervivums) fool you. They’re giants when it comes to cold-hardiness, tough enough to handle a brutal winter. Leave them on the porch or patio all winter, and they’ll provide color, even when the rosettes are peeking out from under a layer of snow. Some of these varieties hit peak color in the summer and others in the winter, so you’ll have a lovely little garden year-round. RECIPE: Sempervivum ‘Grammens’ (Zones 5-8); Sempervivum ‘Bronco’ (Zones 5-8), 2 plants; Sempervivum ‘Thayne’ (Zones 5-8); Sempervivum ‘Pinkerine’ (Zones 5-8), 2 plants; Sempervivum ‘C. William’ (Zones 5-8)
With succulent containers, you’re going for foliage, not flowers, so zero in on the leaves and mix a variety of shapes, textures and colors. This container recipe mixes and matches hens-and-chicks and sedum varieties hardy to 20 degrees below zero, so it can survive outside on your patio in deepest winter, under a blanket of snow. RECIPE: ‘Cebenese’ Hens-and-Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Cebenese’, Zones 5-8); ‘Black Pearl’ Sedum (Sedum album ‘Black Pearl’, Zones 5-8); ‘Old Copper’ Hens-and-Chicks (Sempervivum ‘Old Copper’, Zones 5-8); ‘Oktoberfest’ Sedum (Sempervivum ‘Oktoberfest’, Zones 5-8); Job’s Beard (Sempervivum heuffelii ‘Irene’, Zones 4-8); ‘Ruby Mantle’ Stonecrop (Phedimus spurius ‘Ruby Mantle’, Zones 4-8)
This simple mix pairs sedum with hens-and-chicks for a container of plants that can stay outside all winter in most places. There’s a mix and match of foliage texture and color, with the glossy chartreuse leaves of one plant contrasting with the spikey ruby red ones of the other. Use a wide dish to accommodate the spreading habit of each plant. RECIPE: Golden Japanese Stonecrop (Sedum makinoi 'Ogon', Zones 6-9), 3 plants; ‘Pacific Shadows’ Hens-and-Chicks (Sempervivum ‘Pacific Shadows’, Zones 5-8), 4 plants
Once you find your ideal vessel, supplies are easy to source. These hen and chick succulents are accessorized with aquarium pebbles and some blue agate. Beautiful calligraphy from @tennhensdesign using a black Sharpie customizes this charming place setting arrangement.
This hen-and-chick has silvery-blue rosettes that tinge with purple or pink in cold temperatures. It produces spikes of tiny pink flowers in the mid-summer when it does most of its growing, but its foliage is peak bright in the depth of winter. Use in containers, a wreath or as a groundcover. Zones 5 to 10.
This sempervivum is part of a subset called Heuffelii (pronounced hew-FELL-ee-eye) that has broader, flatter rosettes and lives longer than most other hens-and-chicks. ‘Fandango’ has lime green leaves that tinge deep red in cold temperatures, so these guys hit their stride in mid-winter. Give them lots of light and little water to keep them happy. Zones 4 to 10.
This one grows a mat of lime-colored rosettes with pink-tinged leaves that work well as groundcover. They look like their cousin sempervivum, but rosularia has bell-shaped blooms instead of star-shaped. Like their hen-and-chick kin, they need lots of sun and fast-draining soil. They’re native to the Himalayas and the mountains of Turkey, but they’ll be happy in your rock garden or in a container. Zones 5 to 9.
This hen-and-chick turns deep red when the temperatures drop, and then it stays red year-round. It’s known as a cobweb sempervivum because of the white growth on its leaves that looks like a spider web. Rosettes grow two inches tall and 12 inches wide, spreading by sending stalks of baby rosettes out from the mother plant. Plant them in a rock garden or a container. Zones 3 to 8.
Also known as a hen-and-chick plant, sempervivum is known for its gray-green rosettes that turn plum-colored when the temperatures drop. Where do sempervivums get the poultry nickname? The mother plant (the hen) spreads by making tiny, new rosettes on stalks (chicks). Use sempervivums in containers and rock gardens. These natives of the mountains of southern Europe can endure temperatures of 50 below. You’ve no excuse for killing them. Zones 2 to 9.
How gorgeous is this combo of copper pot, chunky purple amethyst, hawthoria 'Zebra' and sempervivum? To create this look, cut your hen and chicks (sempervivum) and position at an angle in the pot, filling your container with cactus potting mix. Rocks at the bottom of the container help with drainage. End the design with your amethyst and moss. Don't forget to soak your hen and chicks every two weeks and replace. Lightly water your hawthoria with about one tablespoon of water every two weeks.
Keep in mind, says Fried, that you can make your succulent designs even more easy care by using succulent cuttings rather than planting them in containers. Cut where the root begins, says Fried and position in your container. Cuttings can be easily changed out. Just remember to soak your cuttings every two or three weeks in a bowl of water and they should last for months without roots. When you are done with your arrangement you can place the cutting in soil in a container or in your backyard and "watch it root and grow" says Fried.
This clever collection of recycled glass terrariums in different shapes displays sedums (such as Sedum spurium and Sedum acre 'Aureum') and succulents such as Variegated Candle Plant, String of Pearls, Propeller Plant and Silver Squill. At the top right, Begonia 'Fireworks' brings in a punch of ruby red. A Hindu rope plant and Mesembryanthemum lehmanni are in the same container in front, near a tiny hens and chicks succulent. They were assembled and arranged by Sarah Brueck Williams, a stained glass artist.
Pack a tall container full of cold-hardy succulents that will give you foliage ranging from chartreuse to ruby red to black during the winter and blooms that open in the fall and last through the winter. Use fast-draining soil and place in full sun. RECIPE: ‘Wildfire’ Sedum (Sedum SunSparkler ‘Wildfire’, Zones 4-8), 2 plants; Job’s Beard (Sempervivum heuffelii ‘Jade’, Zones 4-8); ‘Boromir’ Hens-and-Chicks (Sempervivum ‘Boromir’, Zones 4-8), 3 plants; ‘Elsie’s Gold’ Sedum (Sedum spectabile 'Elsie's Gold', Zones 3-8), 2 plants; ‘Dream Dazzler’ Sedum (Sedum SunSparkler ‘Dream Dazzler’, Zones 3-9); ‘Touchdown Teak’ Sedum (Terra Nova TOUCHDOWN Series Sedum ‘Touchdown Teak’, Zones 4-9)