Growing Hens & Chicks: The Hardy Succulents

If you live anywhere north of the deep south, you may have noticed that your succulents don't make it through the winter. You can try to bring them inside in the fall, but you will still need a strong sun source. It seems that many places generically label "succulents" when they can vary greatly in their ability to withstand cold and heat.
If you're shopping online, some websites will have a section of "hardy" succulents and one for "tender" ones. So if you live in a northern climate, stick to those labeled hardy, unless you have a great bright sun room in your home to house the tender succulents. The reality of this hit me when I planted some really pretty succulents and they died over the winter. Some that I planted indoors with supplemental light died too. So I researched this problem and came across something that I never connected. Hens & chicks, the nickname for Sempervivum succulents, have been growing outside in my area forever.
They kind of seemed old-fashioned and not very interesting, but when I realized that these are the same plants I see plants in so many beautiful creations, I had a light bulb moment. Since they are actually an alpine plant, they can withstand harsh winters. Not only that, they stay small and are available in a nice variety of colors.
After this realization I went out and purchased a few hens & chicks to plant in new planter. Another thing I learned was that these plants' biggest enemy was over watering so I chose a terra-cotta for their container. It was a little too new for my taste so I tried the yogurt and moss trick to age the pot. Unfortunately it proceeded to rain here for days and now it just looks like a dirty pot. Hopefully once we have a few nice sunny days it will gain some patina.
For added drainage I filled the bottom with some gravel and planted the three plants with a cactus and succulent soil mix. Then I topped it off with a little fancy rock mix to help keep the leaves from sitting on the wet soil.
Patti @Hearth and Vine
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  • Hannah V Hannah V on Jun 30, 2015
    I was wondering what the yogurt was for haha! I've never heard of that trick.

    • Patti @Hearth and Vine Patti @Hearth and Vine on Jun 30, 2015
      @Hannah V :) I think I saw it on an old Martha Stewart Living first using buttermilk but since I had yogurt on hand....