Do Hens and Chicks Plants Die After They Flower?
Did your hens and chicks plant start flowering, and now you aren't sure what will happen to your plant? While their blooms are beautiful, many gardeners do what they can to restrict their blooms. In this article, gardening expert Paige Foley looks at the life cycle of these popular succulents, and what to expect from them once they start to flower.
Hens and chicks are old-time, charming succulent plants that can withstand harsh conditions. They produce beautiful rosettes that come in a variety of colors, from red to green to blue to purple. They can be grown indoors and outdoors and can be left all winter outdoors in cold regions.
These succulents receive their name from their growth habit. They produce numerous offsets or chicks from one mother plant, which is called the hen. They grow in tight colonies of rosettes that can be as wide as two feet. This is how they got their name. Similar to a mother hen and her chicks, they aren’t far apart.
You may be surprised to find out that all varieties of hens and chicks produce flowers. Only the hen will produce a flower when she is finished with her life cycle. In this article, we are going to take a deeper look into why hens and chick plants die after they flower. Let’s get started!
The Short Answer
Once a hen has sent up her flower, and the flower begins to produce seed, the hen will die. This is the natural life cycle of the plant, and you should allow the plant to do this. Flowering typically occurs in summer to late summer. The hen rosette will begin to stretch upwards and produce a stalk to hold the flower.
Soon buds will push their way through the leaves, and pink flowers will bloom. Flower stalks can range in height from a couple of inches to more than a foot. Once the flower is done, the seed will set, and the hen will die shortly after. As the hen dies, her cluster of chicks or offsets will carry on her legacy.
The Long Answer
Hens and chicks have a very interesting life cycle. The plant seems to never die because more and more offsets are produced each year. Most growers receive this succulent as a single rosette, also known as the hen. And once planted, the hen rosette will create chicks or offsets as it grows and starts spreading out.
Each year, these succulents will continue to grow and produce more offsets. At about year three, your original hen rosette will produce a flower. Flowering can be sooner due to environmental stressors. This flower indicates that the plant is finished and the hen will die. The chicks will continue to live as the hen rosette withers away.
Since they continue to produce offsets, the plant will continue to thrive as long as offsets are being produced. The chicks will soon become hens, and they, too, will flower and die. You can grow hens and chicks for many years from generations of chicks from your original hen rosette.
About Their Flowers
When a hen begins to shoot out a stalk, this is called a “rooster.” The rosette will begin to elongate and stretch vertically when it is time to produce a flower. The length of the stalk can vary and typically grows anywhere from a couple of inches to a foot or more.
The stalk will produce buds which will reveal a dainty star-shaped flower. Depending on the variety, some of the flowers might differ a bit, but not much.
The flowers are typically light pink but can also be seen in red, yellow, or white. The flowers will have long, thin petals with a small gap between each one.
It’s very common for these succulents not to produce flowers for several years after planting. This is dependent on a number of factors, but it can take them up to three years to produce a flower. In those years before flowering, the plant is putting a focus on producing offsets or chicks.
Why They Bloom
Hens and chicks are classified as monocarpic. This means that they will flower, produce seeds and die shortly after. That being said, you will only see blooms on each plant once.
Although this might be disheartening for a gardener, it’s a natural process for the plant. The hens and chick succulents need to go through this process to produce progeny.
You can’t stop this process, and you should avoid removing the stalk and buds. If you do remove the stalk, the plant will die anyway. It’s best to leave the stalk alone and allow the plant to complete its natural cycle. It may be sad and difficult to allow the hen rosette to flower, but her chicks will continue to thrive without her.
These succulent plants can start to flower prematurely due to stresses from their environment. They need to be planted in full sun in well-draining soils.
If there’s a drastic change in their environment, this can cause them to become stressed and send out a flower. If they see a large change in sunlight exposure or soils suddenly become soggy, this can induce flowering.
A big shift in temperature will also cause these succulents to flower. If you notice a large temperature change coming for your region, consider moving your plants indoors if they are in containers. If planted outdoors, there isn’t much you can do to avoid the natural cycle once those temperature changes occur.
Another factor that can induce early flowering is overcrowding. Generally, these succulents are grown for their thick clusters of rosettes, but they can become overcrowded quickly. Leave plenty of space between them when planting, at least four inches or more. This will give the plant plenty of room to produce offsets or chicks.
Signs of Blooming
There are a few signs that your hens and chicks are about to bloom. The leaves of the hen rosette will begin to close in on themselves.
Then, the rosette will begin to stretch and elongate. These succulents are naturally low to the ground, and if you notice them begin to grow upwards, this is a good sign of flowering.
At the base of the stalk, the rosette will begin to tilt to one side. The chicks around the base of the hen should remain normal and unaffected by the flowering. Occasionally, young chicks who don’t have established roots will perish with the hen.
It may be a bittersweet sight to see your hens and chicks flower, as it’s the end of a beautiful rosette. But you can take comfort in knowing the hens legacy lives on in her chicks.
Once the flower has finished and the stalk begins to die, you can either remove the stalk and the hen or leave it all lay with her chicks.
Caring for the chicks is no different than before the hen flowered. You continue to provide proper sunlight, soil conditions, and water. In a few years, the once chicks will become hens and start to produce chicks of their own. This is how the plant seems to live on forever, and no matter the generation, they will all require the same care.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do the blooms last?
Their blooms can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to almost a month. Weather and temperature are going to play a factor in how long they bloom. Once you notice seeds forming, the bloom is finished.
Should I cut the stalk from the plant?
You should only cut the stalk once the flowers have faded and the seed has set. Cutting the stalk as it emerges will only kill the plant quicker. This is a natural process for the plant, and cutting the stalk will not save the plant.
Do they stay outdoors all winter?
Yes, these succulents can stay outdoors during the winter. They are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, so they can withstand some pretty cold temperatures. The plant naturally goes dormant when temperatures become cooler and will awaken in the spring when temperatures rise.
Hens and chicks are a cute succulent that is versatile and hardy even in the coldest of climates. If you are growing these succulents, it’s inevitable that they will one day flower. There isn’t anything you can do to prevent this process from happening. It’s a natural part of the plant’s life cycle and needs to happen so the chicks can continue to thrive.