How to Grow, Care and Propagate Houseleeks (Sempervivum)

Houseleeks (Sempervivum) also called Liveforever or Hens and Chicks are popular succulent plants which form mats composed of tufted leaves in rosettes.

Sempervivum are low-growing reaching a height of 4 in. only and each plant grows for several years before flowering. The color of flowers is reddish, yellowish, pinkish or rarely whitish.

After flowering, the Liveforever dies, leaving many offsets it has produced during its life and hence the common name, 'Liveforever'.

These offsets that form around the base of the plants have also given Houseleeks the common name, 'Hens and Chicks'.

They share the name 'Hens and Chicks', with other genera like the similar Echeverias which bear a rosette of short, beautiful, tightly packed leaves on short stems which are covered with a white bloom, short hairs or a waxy coating.

The species in the Sempervivum genus are not easy to identify as even one single clone can look very different under various growth conditions or different times of the year.

Sempervivums are very similar and closely linked to each other. Numerous cultivars have been created but a lot of them are not different from each other.

The main interest of these cultivars is not their flowers but the form and color of the rosette-leaves.

Sempervivum are closely related to Aeoniums (Tree Houseleeks) which bear succulent, glossy, spoon-shaped leaves typically arranged on a basal stem in a dense spreading rosette.

Houseleeks, Sempervivum

Botanical name: Sempervivum
Family: Crassulaceae
Subfamily: Sempervivoideae
Common name: Houseleeks, Liveforever, Hens and Chicks


Sempervivum is a genus of about 40 species of flowering plants which are endemic from Morocco to Iran, through the mountains of Iberia, the Alps, Carpathians, Balkan mountains, Turkey, the Armenian mountains, northeastern part of Sahara Desert and the Caucasus.

Houseleeks are completely hardy due to their ability to store water in their thick leaves which allows them to live on sunny rocks and stony places in the mountain, subalpine and alpine belts.


Houseleeks (Sempervivum) are non-toxic to humans and pets. Houseleeks are safe to grow indoors.

Where to Buy

If you are looking to add this plant to your collection, Houseleeks are available online on Etsy.

Sempervivum Care Indoors

Houseleeks (Sempervivum) require bright light with 4-6 hours of direct sunlight, average warmth and moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with fortnightly feeding during the growing season.

Sempervivum requires pruning to keep the plant neat and minimize pest and disease infestation. Repotting is only needed when the plant becomes pot-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Houseleeks, Sempervivum

Light Requirements

Houseleeks grow best in bright light with some direct sunlight of at least 4-6 hours.

However, avoid exposing the Sempervivum to too hot sunlight before acclimatizing it as it can get sun scorched.

Sempervivums can also grow under grow lights where natural light is inadequate. Check out these full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.


Water Houseleeks thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

Cut down on watering during the cold season and maintain the soil barely moist as growth is minimal at this time.

Avoiding wetting the center of the rosette as it can lead to rotting. Water from the bottom instead.

Use water that is at room temperature to water to avoid plant shock as it can lead to reduced growth.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting. Read more on how to water houseplants the right way.

Temperature and Humidity

Average warmth between 16-280C during the growing season is ideal for Houseleeks. Keep the plant away from cold drafts as they cause reduced growth.

Sempervivums have no need for high humidity; average room humidity is good for these plants. Ensure that there is good air circulation for the plants to prevent fungal disease infestations.

Potting Medium

The best potting medium for Houseleeks should be rich in organic matter, loose and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy. It should be loose enough to allow water to drain out fast enough.

Cactus and Succulents Mix is ideal for this plant as it drains easily. Buy Cactus and Succulents Soil from Amazon.


Feed Houseleeks every 2 weeks during the growing season with a balanced, liquid fertilizer. Stop feeding during the dormancy stage (cold season) as growth is minimal at this time.


Houseleeks have a small root system so frequent repotting is not necessary. Repot at the beginning of the growing season only when it has become crowded in its current pot.

Use a pot 1 size larger than the current one and one that has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting. Use a shallow pot and be careful not to bury the stems to prevent rotting. Check out these succulents pots available on Amazon.


Pruning Houseleeks is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves to keep the plant neat and also reduce pests and disease infestations.


Houseleeks (Sempervivum) can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from offsets which form at the base of the plant.

How to propagate Houseleeks from offsets

Carefully seperate the Houseleek offsets from the mother plant. Choose an offset which has several leaves.

Allow the offsets to dry (callus) for 1-3 days before potting to prevent rotting.

Pot each offset in its individual pot in moist free-draining soil and place the set up in a warm, brightly lit place away from direct sunlight.

Water sparingly, only when the soil is dry until the Houseleek is well established and avoid soggy soil as it can lead to rotting.

Houseleeks, Sempervivum

Sempervivum Growing Problems

Houseleeks (Sempervivum) growing problems include loss of leaf color, rotting, yellowing, shrivelled leaves, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.

Loss of leaf color

Loss of leaf color in Houseleeks is due to too little light as they prefer bright light with some direct sunlight of at least 4-6 hours.

Too little light will cause the leaves to loss their vibrant colors therefore, move the Sempervivum to a brighter spot or instal grow lights where natural light is inadequate.

Rotting base, yellowing and shrivelled leaves

Rotting plant base followed by yellowing and shrivelled leaves in Houseleeks is an indication of basal stem rot disease which is brought about by overwet conditions.

Decrease watering during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time. Also, ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent the soil from getting soggy.


Common diseases in Houseleeks are crown and stem rot disease and leaf spot disease which are brought about by wetting of the center of the rosette.

Avoiding wetting the center of the rosette as it can lead to rotting of the Sempervivum. Water from the bottom instead.


Common pests in Houseleeks are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to reduce spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests. Read on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.

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