The Common Houseleek, Sempervivum tectorum, is an evergreen succulent that’s native to Europe. It’s one of the most common houseplants in the world and has been cultivated for centuries. Its easy care and durability make it a great choice for first-time succulent growers.
Sempervivum tectorum forms symmetrical rosettes of fleshy green leaves rimmed by red highlights. It is a low-growing succulent, meaning its rosettes don’t form on the tips of stems but rather stay low to the ground.
Sempervivum tectorum Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Common Houseleek, Hens and Chicks, House Leek, Roof House Leek|
|Botanical Name||Sempervivum tectorum|
|Native Range||Southern Europe|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||3-8|
|Mature Size||Height: 6-8 inches; Spread: 6-8 inches|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by offsets|
|Sun||Full sun to part shade|
How to Care for Sempervivum tectorum?
Sempervivum means “live forever” in Latin. According to an old wives’ tale, the mini succulents in the Sempervivum genus can prevent lightning strikes. Medieval gardeners and courtiers cherished these plants precisely because of this reason.
It was often planted near homes as a way to help protect the building from lightning strikes. Although the superstition surrounding this phenomenon has died out, the popularity of this gorgeous species hasn’t.
These days, it’s more likely to be found in a pot than on a rooftop. But it’s just as easy to care for as it was centuries ago. It’s a great plant for beginners and those with busy schedules. It can tolerate neglect and still look amazing.
Light and Location
The Common Houseleek is a sun-loving succulent. It thrives in bright, direct sunlight but can also tolerate partial shade. If regularly experience harsh sunlight, it’s best to protect your plant from the afternoon sun to prevent scorching. Leaf burn is rare, but it’s known to happen under particularly harsh sunlight.
Sempervivum tectorum can be grown in any type of container, as long as it has good drainage. Clay pots, plastic pots, and even cement planters are all suitable options. Or, if you have the space, you can grow this plant directly in your garden bed.
Just be mindful that this is a mat-forming succulent; it will take over any extra space you give it. Rock gardens or indoor pots are the most suitable location for this hardy succulent.
This succulent has very low water needs. In fact, it’s more likely to rot from too much water than from too little. When watering your Sempervivum tectorum, allow the soil to dry out completely before giving it a good soak. Ideally, you should only water once every 1-2 weeks.
During winter, when the plant is dormant, you can reduce your watering schedule even further. Once every month or two should be sufficient.
A well-draining potting mix is essential for this succulent. If your pot doesn’t have good drainage, the plant will quickly rot. A cactus or succulent mix is the best option, but you can also make your own by mixing equal parts sand, perlite, and potting soil.
Ideal temperatures range between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-27 degrees Celsius). This succulent can tolerate short periods of cold weather, but prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures will damage the leaves.
In cooler climates, this succulent can be grown outdoors year-round. But if you live in an area that gets frosty winters, it’s best to bring your plant indoors before the first frost hits.
Common Houseleeks are not particularly picky when it comes to humidity levels. They will do fine in dry conditions but can also tolerate higher humidity if necessary. Just be sure to provide good air circulation to prevent rot.
This succulent doesn’t need much fertilizer to stay healthy and happy. In fact, too much fertilizer can actually do more harm than good. If you do decide to fertilize your Sempervivum tectorum, use a succulent-specific fertilizer and only apply it once every few months.
Propagating Sempervivum tectorum
One aspect of why it’s so widely recommended for beginners is also what earned this species the nickname, Hens, and Chicks. The plant starts off with a small rosette that quickly multiplies under the influence of its ability to give off new offsets. Smaller replicas of the parent plant surround the bigger rosette quite nicely, like a hen and its chicks.
There is no need to worry about propagating this plant; it can do that all by itself. Seeds are an alternative method of propagation of the Common Houseleek, but they’re redundant if you already have a colony going.
Repotting Sempervivum tectorum
This is a slow-growing succulent, so it doesn’t need to be repotted very often. In fact, it’s best to leave your plant in its current pot for at least 2-3 years. When the time comes to repot, only move it up one pot size.
Offsets are produced by the plant by spreading its roots underneath. Take into account that you’ll be disturbing the plantlets if any while repotting.
Common houseleek is non-toxic to humans and pets.
Common Pests and Diseases
This succulent is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. The biggest threat to your plant is crown rot, which can happen if the soil is too moist or if the pot doesn’t have good drainage.
Spider mites, mealybugs, and scale are common pests that can infest Sempervivum tectorum. These pests are easy to spot and can be controlled with regular applications of insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Diseases are not a big problem for this plant, but powdery mildew and fungal infections can occur in high humidity environments. These problems can be prevented with good air circulation and by avoiding overhead watering.