Uncle Rubus’s grimoire of Magical Herbs: HENS AND CHICKENS, HOUSE LEEKS, OR SEMPERVIVUM

Hens and Chickens

House leeks


Hens and Chickens, as we call them in the United States is a very rugged plant. It likes dry areas in full sun and the mother plant or ‘Hen’produces little off shoots called ‘Chickens.’ Often you see them grown in an old boot or shoe, or in a strawberry jar. They are very hardy succulent that survive the cold snowy winters we often have in Ohio. Their are various species with different colors and textures.

Recently I purchased several on sale and stuffed them in a pot with Sedum. Also I planted several in a strawberry jar. The trend in recent years is to plant them in a frame and hang them from a wall or fence in your garden as a ‘living picture.’ Hens and Chickens need very little care and add a little bit of exotic mystery to the garden.

In olden days, especially in Britain and Europe, people planted House leeks on their thatched roofs. It was felt the succulents magically protected the home from lightening strikes. I imagine the succulent plants full of moisture could stop a spark from igniting the dry plant matter used to make the thatched roof.

In folklore House leeks were also used for protection, against Witches with evil intents. Interesting some believed it was also a powerful aphrodisiac for men and would greatly increase the number of children in the household!

Hens and Chickens, House leeks, or Sempervivum or what ever the common name you know them by, are a perfect little plant for a witch’s garden or any one who likes to grow the unusual!

(pictures taken from internet)



   hens and chickens in a frame



hens and chickens on thatched roof







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