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Hens And Chicks Plants

Q.A cluster of sempervivum plants.

Zone Seattle WA | Myra Shukis added on May 13, 2018 | Answered

I live in Seattle WA. Last year sometime in May or June I bought & planted a healthy sempervivum plant for my sister. It was indoors in a grocery store when I bought it. It consisted of a green “hen” with about 8-10 smaller green “chicks”. I planted it outdoors close to a rock about the size of a basketball. It’s on the south side of the rock. It’s about 12 feet away from a one story house that’s south of the plant. It gets full sun most of the day. Before I planted it I prepared the soil by digging a hole about 12 by 7 inches wide, & about 7 inches deep. Then I put little stones in the bottom & filled the rest of the hole with a mixture of half soil (that I had dug out of the hole) & half sand. I set the roots of the hens & chicks into the soil/sand mixture & watered them. They lie flat on the ground. I planted them in time to get them established before winter. That fall, before the frost, I put sawdust all around them, but didn’t cover them, to protect the roots from the cold. We had some freezing weather but no snow. They got plenty of rain. This spring, after the threat of frost passed, I removed the sawdust and replaced it with about an inch and a half of sand.
When I first purchased the plant it was green. To the best of my memory it seems that it gradually turned color and is now a redish brown but it doesn’t look dead. Also, there is one tiny new green growth about the size of a small pea coming up along side of one of the redish chicks. There are several dried up, dead, brittle, leaves among the redish leaves of the “hen” plant. The hen and chicks still look alive. In fact the center of the hen plant looks like it is getting taller. So far I have not fertilized it. It was watered adequately last year well into fall when it began getting enough moisture from rain. It was not watered by hand until a little while ago after daylight savings time, and the days became noticeably longer and warmer. We’ve had some rain. I know they don’t need a lot of water. They survived a Seattle winter which generally has plenty of rain. My question is: Why are the hens and chicks, except for that tiny green chick, redish brown? Is the redish color a sign that the plant is stressed? If so, what is stressing it? Have I been taking care of it properly?
The neighbor across the street has a vertical rockery with lots of hens and chicks among the rocks. The plants seem to get sun all day long, too, but they don’t lie flat on the ground. They don’t look red. They even had tall growths. Can’t remember when that was; last fall maybe? Thank you for your help! Myra

A.Answers to this queston: Add Answer
Answered on May 14, 2018

At different times of the year, with changes in temperature and day length, the coloring can change a great deal. Green leaves just tipped with red may flush a vivid burgundy their entire length.

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