Growing Sempervivums (In Pictures)

Growing sempervivums

Check out 10 gorgeous sempervivums to grow, plus advice on how to grow them.

Sempervivums, or houseleeks, are hardy, succulent, alpine plants that grow in the wild between rocks in mountainous regions.

Sempervivum means 'always alive' – a reference to the fact that houseleeks tolerate extreme temperatures and drought. The hardiness of sempervivums (also known as hen and chickens), makes them excellent, easy-to-keep garden plants.

Houseleeks are most valued for their distinctive rosettes of succulent, spirally patterned foliage, although they also bear attractive flowers from spring to summer. Each rosette is a separate plant, and is monocarpic – it flowers once and then dies, but is soon replaced by other new rosettes, called offsets. These offsets can be separated and planted up, and will then grow into new clumps.

Sempervivums don't need feeding, but do benefit from being repotted each year into compost containing slow-release fertiliser.

Discover 10 sempervivum cultivars, below.

Advertisement

Cobweb houseleek, Sempervivum arachnoideum

Possibly the most famous species, the cobweb houseleek bears a network of white hairs at the leaf tips, which protect the plant against dehydration and intense sunlight. Sempervivum arachnoideum bears small pink flowers in early summer. 

Sempervivum 'Engle's'

Sempervivum 'Engle's' has downy bronze-green leaves, which darken to almost purple in winter. 

Sempervivum marmoreum 'Brunneifolium'

Sempervivum marmoreum 'Brunneifolium' bears large rosettes of triangular-shaped, silvery bronze leaves.

Sempervivum 'Pippin'

Sempervivum 'Pippin' has large rosettes of deep green, spatula-shaped leaves with dark purple tips.

Sempervivum 'Pluto'

'Pluto' is a beautiful houseleek, bearing large rosettes of deep green leaves with dark purple tips.

Sempervivum 'Purple Dazzler'

Sempervivum 'Purple Dazzler' has bi-coloured foliage in mid-green and dark purple, the colour of which darkens in winter.

Sempervivum 'Terracotta Baby'

'Terracotta Baby' bears medium-sized rosettes of long, spoon-shaped leaves in dramatic dark red-burgundy. The colouration becomes darker in winter and a brighter, more intense red in summer.

Sempervivum 'Reinhard'

'Reinhard' bears medium-sized, emerald green leaves with purple-black leaf tips. Pastel-pink flowers appear on short stems in summer.

Sempervivum 'Eddy'

'Eddy' bears striking red spoon-shaped leaves, which darken towards the centre.

Sempervivum 'Rita Jane'

'Rita Jane' bears large rosettes of blue-green foliage with dark red tips.

Sempervivums don't need feeding, but do benefit from being repotted each year into compost containing slow-release fertiliser.

Advertisement

Where to grow sempervivums

Sempervivums are commonly grown in containers, but they can thrive in bricks, driftwood and tufa rock, due to their ability to grow in very little compost. South-facing rockeries, gravel gardens and vertical walls also make good habitats. They perform best in a sunny, outdoor position, in a well-drained compost, with sharp horticultural grit added for drainage. A layer of grit added to the surface of the compost further aids drainage.

Discover more ideas and inspiration

Related content

Spring alpine pot display

Related offers

SAVE 20%

Save 20% on perennials

Save 20 per cent on all autumn-planting perennials at Sarah Raven. Choose from a vast range of plants, including geraniums, hellebores, wallflowers, delphiniums and much more.

Use code: GW17WAP

Order now

Offer

Buy one, get one free

Buy one hardy geranium 'Foundling's Friend' and get a beautiful geranium 'Rozanne' for free. Plant them this autumn and enjoy their long-lasting flowers next summer.

Order now

SAVE 20%

Save 20% at Crocus

Save 20 per cent across the entire range at Crocus, including everything from plants, trees and shrubs, to tools, furniture, outdoor living and more. Simply enter our discount code at checkout to claim this offer.

Use code: GWSEPT20

Order now