Hens and Chicks

The past few years, in the spring I’ve bought pretty inexpensive pre-made containers of Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum) at the grocery store of all places.  They don’t require much care, love sun, and are so interesting to watch grow, shoot off chicks and grow flowers if you’re lucky.  In fact, I’ve found the less attention the better.  No fertilizer and not much water seems to be the key.

It’s really such a welcome surprise when a flower stalk starts to appear, but a little sad also, because that’s the beginning of the end for that “mother hen”.  These plants belong to a family of plants that flower once, and then die leaving all its little chicks behind (and an ugly dead spot in the pot, but that’s what the chicks are useful for).  Flower stalk are one of the more bizarre looking things on an already interesting plant.  They can be only a few inches tall, or can grow a foot or more.  The one that I have blooming right now is the biggest I’ve ever seen.  It’s been growing for over a month now and just started blooming last week.
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(Photos by Peggy)

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