Do Hens and Chicks Need Full Sun, Partial Shade, or Full Shade?

Trying to figure out the best sun orientation for your hens and chicks succulents? Picking the perfect sun exposure for your plant can ensure that it flourishes to it's fullest potential. In this article, gardening expert Paige Foley shares her top tips for picking the perfect sun-filled location for your Hens and Chicks plants.

hens and chicks sunlight

Contents

Hens and chicks are cute garden succulents that will grow in the most difficult areas of your yard. Not only can they be grown outdoors, but they can also be grown indoors as a houseplant. They are an excellent succulent for beginners because they are pretty hardy and survive despite neglect.

Hens and chicks have very low watering requirements and grow well in gravelly or sandy soils. If you grow them indoors, choose a potting mix optimized for succulents and cacti. You can even add a bit of gravel or sand to your indoor hens and chicks’ soil. Adding coarse materials increases airflow, which is important for the proper growth of hens and chicks.

But perhaps more important than the soil makeup is the light requirement that your plants have. Growing plants indoors can be tricky if you don’t have the right amount of sunlight. So how much light should your hens and chicks be getting? Let’s examine how much sunlight your hens and chicks will need to be happy and healthy!

The Short Answer

Hens and chicks love the sun and should be planted in areas that receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. If you can plant in 8 hours or more your hens and chicks will thank you. Providing the proper light will yield numerous rosettes and vibrant coloring.

Depending on the variety you grow, hens and chick can handle more shade over others. Larger varieties require more sunlight while smaller varieties require less  Hens and chicks prefer temperatures between 65 to 75°F. Providing some afternoon shade can help prevent sunburnt hens and chicks.

When growing indoors, if you don’t have enough sunlight exposure, you may want to consider a grow light to supplement the sun.

The Long Answer

Hens and chicks are alpine succulents native to the mountains of Europe and northern Africa. They can grow in some pretty extreme conditions. When planting hens and chicks, keep this in mind and try to mimic mountainous growing conditions. They may not be picky about soil and water, but they are picky about sunlight.

Pay attention to signs that your hens and chicks aren’t receiving too little or too much sunlight. Catching these signs early will help save your hens and chicks. Ensuring your hens and chicks receive enough sunlight will help produce more offsets or chicks and increase the vibrancy of the foliage color.

Sunlight Requirements

Close-up of a Hens and chicks plant in a white hanging pot outdoors. It is a succulent plant with oval rosette-shaped leaves. They are thick, fleshy, with pointed tips and smooth edges. The leaves are bright green with burgundy tips.
Hens and chicks require 6-8 hours of sunlight daily for ideal growth.

Hens and chicks need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily to be healthy and multiply. A location that receives 8 hours or more of sunlight daily is best. The amount of sunlight your succulents require will depend on the variety you choose to grow, but for hens and chicks, as a general rule, 8 hours is usually ideal.

A good rule of thumb is that if you have a larger variety of hens and chicks, they will need more sunlight. On average larger varieties should receive 10 to 12 hours of direct sunlight. Smaller varieties can get away with less sunlight per day. These varieties will need anywhere from 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Once you have identified a location and planted your hens and chicks, check on them often. You will want to observe your hens and chicks for any signs of distress. Catching problems early is the key to saving your hens and chicks. Let’s look at problems that might occur with too much or too little sunlight.

Too Much Sunlight

Close-up of a Hens and chicks plant with burnt dry leaves due to excessive sunlight. The plant forms a rosette of oval leaves with pointed tips. The leaves are fleshy, green, with reddish tips.
Hens and chicks can suffer sunscald if the sun’s rays are scorching during the hottest time of day.

Hens and chicks thrive in temperatures between 65 to 75°F but can also tolerate higher and lower temperatures. The plants will let you know if they receive too much sunlight. Sunburn is a common problem with hens and chicks.

If your hens and chicks are exposed to intensely hot solar rays, they may develop irreversible sunscald on the leaves. These will appear as discolored spots on the leaves. Patches can be white, brown, or dark red during the early stages of sunscald.

Severe sunscald will show up as black patches on the edge of the leaves and will spread to the center. Eventually, the sunscald will consume the hens and chicks, and the leaves will fall off the plant. It may die if this isn’t caught quickly.

There are ways to protect your hens and chicks from sunburn. The easiest thing to do is to move the succulent to a shadier area or one that receives afternoon shade, as the afternoon sun is often more intense.

If you are unable to move your hens and chicks, plant taller plants around the hens and chicks to give them some shade. You can also hang a shade cloth over the hens and chicks for part of the day. Avoid constant full shade conditions, of course, because those come with their own issues!

Too Little Sunlight

Close-up of Hens and chicks, also known as Sempervivum, in a white pot, on a white windowsill. The plant has fleshy oval leaves arranged in a beautiful rosette. The leaves are thick, fleshy, pale green in color due to lack of sunlight. The leaves are covered with small thin white hairs.
Hens and chicks need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight daily, signaling any issues through their growth.

Hens and chicks must be exposed to at least 6 hours of sunlight daily to be happy, and 8 hours is better. Even though they are hardy succulents that don’t complain much, they will let you know when something is wrong.

If the plant is grown in too little light, the plant will become tired and stretched out. Hens chicks should be tight colonies of rosettes.

Too little sunlight will cause etiolation, a process in which the plant’s foliage stretches out in search of light. Etiolation isn’t just an aesthetic issue, although it doesn’t look great; if it isn’t addressed, the succulent may die due to lack of sunlight.

Indoor Lighting

Close-up of a Hens and chicks plant, also known as Sempervivum, in a large clay pot, on a wooden windowsill. They are adorable succulents known for their unique rosette-shaped leaves and vibrant color variations. Each rosette is made up of densely packed, thick, fleshy leaves that form a round shape that resembles ruffled bird feathers. Leaf color is green with purple markings on some leaves.
Ideal locations indoors, such as south-facing windows, ensure sufficient sunlight.

Choosing the right location in your house to have happy and healthy hens and chicks might take some trial and error. Finding the right location might require moving the plant around until it displays full and vibrant leaves. Typically window sills, shelves, and the tops of cabinets are great locations for hens and chicks.

Hens and chicks require the same amount of sunlight whether they are grown indoors or outdoors. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, south-facing windows are a great option and provide enough light for hens and chicks, even during the winter months. Placing the east and west windows may not provide them enough sunlight.

Hens and chicks planted in improper indoor light can become etiolated, as mentioned above. Pay attention to your succulents for signs of too little light. They will stretch and become irregular and visually unappealing. If you start seeing etiolation despite your best efforts to provide natural lighting, consider adding a grow light so they aren’t stressed by looking for light.

Outdoor Sunlight

Close-up of a Hens and chicks plant growing between rocks in a garden. It is a succulent plant that produces rosettes of thick fleshy bright green leaves with purple-red tips. The leaves are oval in shape, with pointed tips.
Outdoors, the intense afternoon sun can damage hens and chicks, so afternoon shade is best.

Hens and chicks will grow just about anywhere. They look great in rock landscapes, wall crevices, and clay pots. No matter where you decide to plant them, you need to be sure they are getting the right amount of sunlight.

Just like planting indoors, you may have to move them around till you find the right location. The sunlight outdoors is more intense than the light indoors. The afternoon sun can be extremely powerful and may cause damage to hens and chicks.

If you will provide any shade for your hens and chicks, it’s best to provide it in the afternoon. Your hens and chicks will tell you if the sunlight is too intense or not intense enough. The leaves will begin to sunburn, and the plants’ leaves may wilt.

When temperatures drop and the light from the sun becomes less intense in the fall, hens and chicks will go dormant. During dormancy, your hens and chicks don’t require much sunlight. They are still going through photosynthesis but at a much slower rate.

Don’t cover them completely during the winter, as they need a very small amount of sunlight to survive dormancy. In colder climates, this is the time of year that they should be brought indoors to overwinter, but their dormancy will aid you here!

Coloring

Close-up of Hens and chicks plants growing in a large terracotta pot, outdoors. The plant forms dense rounded rosettes of fleshy oval leaves with pointed tips. The leaves are bright green with purple-red tips.
Hens and chicks display diverse colors based on sun exposure and temperature.

Hens and chicks develop interesting patterns of coloration, with the tips of their leaves ranging from red to orange to bluish to purple. The intensity of the color will vary depending on how much sun they receive and the temperature outdoors. To ensure the brightest colors for your hens and chicks’ foliage, give them adequate lighting.

If you plant your hens and chicks and they appear pale and weak, this is a good indication they need more sunlight. Move them to a better location and watch to see if they regain their color. Recovery may take some time, so be patient.

Other Care Tips

Close-up of watering a freshly planted Hens and chicks plant in the garden. This succulent plant forms a beautiful rounded rosette of oval, slightly oblong leaves. The leaves are thick, fleshy, with pointed purple tips.
Hens and chicks require sunlight, water, and suitable soil.

Although sunlight is important for the proper growth of hens and chicks, it’s not the only factor that keeps them healthy. On top of sunlight, hens and chicks need proper watering and soil conditions. Hens and chicks might have higher needs when it comes to sunlight, but proper watering and well-draining soil are necessary for their survival, too.

Hens and chicks are drought-tolerant perennials. Once fully mature, they have a deep root system that can tap into moisture below the soil surface. If it’s in the ground, a slow, deep soaking of the plant’s soil is better than a fast saturation; this ensures the soil can absorb and hold the moisture for your plants. Container-grown plants should receive regular drip irrigation, although a container will need less water per session.

Hens and chicks are known for growing in poor soils that most plants refuse to grow. Their ideal soil type is sandy, gravelly soil that’s well-draining. These succulents aren’t big fans of soggy soil, so it’s best to start with the right soil from the beginning!

Final Thoughts

Hens and chicks will reward you with their vibrant colors and create multiple offshoots if placed in proper lighting. The variety you choose to grow will determine its light requirement, but the best rule of thumb is at least 8 hours of sunlight daily. Watch for signs that these succulents need more sunlight, like pale coloring or etiolation, and address those issues quickly.

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