Cobweb Hens and Chicks
Plants bring many wonderful textures into our outdoor spaces. Textures that are interesting to view and touch: smooth and rough textures, dull and shiny, hard and soft, clean and… cobwebby? That’s right—Cobweb Sempervivum features light green foliage wrapped in yards of superfine cobwebby threads! This is a fun Spirit for a children’s garden or for the young at heart. Plant it in a container, raised bed, dry border, or rock garden—any place where it will receive excellent drainage. Wherever it goes, make sure you can see it at close range and appreciate its unconventional good looks. Spiders not included.
Sempervivums, also known as Houseleeks, are found in the wild clinging to mountainsides in central Europe and around the Mediterranean. These survivors need only a bit of soil to root into and they’re good to go. Long ago they were welcomed into gardens, and Europeans have not only valued their beauty for centuries, but have attributed them with magical powers. According to European folklore, they are believed to ward off lightning strikes when planted on the roof of a house! Today there are thousands of varieties of Sempervivums to be had in a rainbow of colors. Cobweb is a special species cherished for the peculiar cobweb-like threads circling its foliage.
Sempervivums are also called Hens and Chicks because of their unique growth habit. Over time, a single rosette (the Hen) will give rise to a ring of smaller rosettes (the Chicks) around it. The Hen will eventually put up a rather bizarre-looking but attractive pink flower. Afterwards, the Hen dies, but the Chicks live on. You can detach Cobweb Chicks and move them around to other parts of the garden to start new colonies.
How to Grow
Plant Cobweb Sempervivum where it will receive full or part sun and sharp drainage. That may be in a border with sandy or gravelly soil, a raised bed, a stone wall, or a hillside. Any site where water can get to the roots but not stay there for long periods is good. Root rot is Sempervivum’s only real enemy. Remove the mother plant after it has flowered; the offsets around it will fill in the empty space. Feel free to move offsets around wherever you like. They will re-establish themselves quickly.
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