How Much Water for Hens and Chicks Plants?

Mar 10th 2012

How Much Water for Hens and Chicks Plants?

Don't over-water. Hens and chick plants die from too much water. They are drought tolerant and don't need to be watered very often. I'm sure that anyone starting to grow hen and chick plants has heard or read something like this. I'm here to say, not always true.

The Experiment
I took two hen and chick starters and planted them side by side in plastic cups. One container had holes for drainage, the other did not.

I filled the cup without holes until water pooled above the soil. Whenever I couldn't see water above the dirt I watered the plant. My expectation was for the plant to rot and die within a few weeks. A month passed. Another month. After almost 3 months I just couldn't keep it up any longer. The plant still looked fine. After dumping out the sopping wet soil I saw that it had even put off the small, white, hair-like roots... always a good sign.

Hen and Chick Plant with Heavy Watering

For the other plant, the one with good drainage, I watered it well right after planting. Then I watered it off and on, whenever it struck my fancy. Watering was sporadic... like watering is all to often. It was dead within 6 weeks. Brittle and dry it crumbled in its parched pot. The white hair roots had been the first thing to shrivel, followed by the rest of the plant.

Hen and Chick Plant without enough water

Hens and Chicks ARE drought tolerant. They CAN take some neglect. However, only after they are established. When you first receive your hens and chicks, water them well. Don't be afraid to give them plenty of water. Don't let them dry out. In good soil, newly planted hens and chicks are more likely to die from too little water than too much water.

Once your plants have had time to become established, then you can cut back and be more lax in watering. Cold and wet will kill your hens and chicks. Plants sitting in a puddle of water will rot. But new transplants do not like to be completely dry for too long.