Sempervivum: Color changing hens and chicks succulents

Sempervivum are a great option for those who want colorful succulents that are also cold hardy. They also change colors at different times of year and are generally more vibrant in winter when most plants don’t look great.

This page contains affiliate links, but I love all the products I link to!

Sempervivum, or hens and chicks, are quickly becoming one of my favorite succulent genera. The biggest perk is they grow in my cold Utah climate!

I was initially turned off to Sempervivums because I thought the colors were boring, only reds and greens. However, thanks to the amazing selection offered by Mountain Crest Gardens I’ve found there is quite a variety of colors, including blues, purples, pinks and even yellow!

This post shows a lot of colorful cold hardy Sempervivums and talks about why they change colors

These hens and chicks are really amazing once you start to spend more time with them. They propagate easily, generally tolerate quite a bit of abuse (over watering, under watering, heat, cold, etc.) and still survive.

These hens and chicks are amazing! They propagate easily, tolerate cold, and handle about anything!Click To Tweet

Sempervivum Color Changes

Sempervivums are also interesting in their coloring. Many actually display some of their boldest colors toward the end of winter and early spring. In fact, they can change colors so dramatically you almost wouldn’t know two plants were the same species.

Don’t believe me? Let me show you!

Mountain Crest Gardens sent me a few pairs of Sempervivums in various stages of color change. I was amazed at the difference!

I have noticed these changes in my succulents but until I compared two side by side, I had no idea how different they could look.

These cold hardy Sempervivum 'Saturn' are amazing!
Sempervivum ‘Saturn’

The pairs were labeled when I received them. However, as we were potting them some of the tags got mixed up and we had to determine which plants paired together. It was a lot harder than I thought, but in the end we got it right.

So, here’s a few examples of two Semps of the same species, but different colors.

I totally want some of these Sempervivum 'Dea' for my garden!
Sempervivum ‘Dea’
Wow! The color difference on these two hens and chicks is really cool
Sempervivum ‘Ruby Heart’
Find out why these two Sempervivum 'Brownii' look so different from each other
Sempervivum ‘Brownii’

I’ve never been great at identifying specific succulent species, but in attempting to match these up with the right names I discovered a few important characteristics to look for when identifying succulents, and Sempervivum in particular.

Leaf Shape and Texture

At first glance these hens and chicks seem to all be the same shape right?

As you start to look more closely, you’ll notice some of the leaves are long and skinny while others are wider and less pointed.

The edges of this Sempervivum's leaves are so cool!
Sempervivum ‘Brownii’
This Sempervivum 'Dea' is such a beautiful color!
Sempervivum ‘Dea’

There is also a difference in the texture on the edge of the leaves. Some look almost furry, while others are smooth. Some even look sharp with small hooks along the edges.

This hen and chick succulent is so cute and fuzzy!
Sempervivum ‘Silver Thaw’
Hens and chicks succulents are my favorite!
Sempervivum ‘Saturn’

Color Patterns

There are also subtle differences in the color patterns for the various Sempervivums. Even hens and chicks that were in different color stages would follow a pattern with the color. For example, on this Sempervivum ‘Ruby Heart’ the red is at the top of the leaf. When the Semp has more color it simply extends down lower on the leaf.

Sempervivums will change color throughout the year making them somewhat difficult to identify
Sempervivum ‘Ruby Heart’

For others, the red creates a band in the middle of the leaf. It’s larger when the succulent has more red, but it’s still in the same location.

I love the combination of red, green and white cobwebs on these hens and chicks
Sempervivum ‘Jade Rose’

Tightness of the Rosette and Leaf Density

This one can be a bit trickier if your Sempervivum hasn’t been getting enough light, but generally you can tell the difference between species because of how compact the leaves are.

Some will form loose rosettes while others will be dense with leaves. You can try gently pulling the leaves apart a little bit to get an idea of how tight the rosette actually is.

I can't believe these two hens and chicks succulents are the same! They look so different!
Sempervivum ‘Silver Thaw’
The color difference on these Sempervivum is really interesting
Sempervivum ‘Hart 8’

If your hens and chicks aren’t getting enough light, you’ll notice the leaves start to flatten out. They do this as a desperate attempt to absorb more light. They will have more area to absorb light with their leaves flattened out as opposed to tightly curled up.

If your hens and chicks aren't getting enough light, you'll notice the leaves start to flatten out.Click To Tweet

Sempervivums are a really fun group of succulents. Since most of the world doesn’t live in an ideal climate for tender succulents they provide a great option for outdoor growing year round, no matter your climate.

For some extra help identifying Sempervivums, take a look at this ebook put together by Jacki at Drought Smart Plants.

If you’re in the market to start (or add to) your collection of cold hardy Sempervivums, head on over to Mountain Crest Gardens! You’ll be amazed by all the varieties they offer.

24 Responses to Sempervivum: Color changing hens and chicks succulents

  1. My succulents get leggy with distance between leaves unless they are outside during our 3 mth summers. Ive read that they arent getting enuf light while inside. But they are in a 3 sided bay window facing south east.
    Ive learned from you that they (3 dish gardens + 4 hanging glass containers all with no hole for drainage). Other than irdering online, where cld i buy pumice or the other items mentioned as subs for the soil + sand mix which ive been using?
    Txs for yr sharing of knowledge Cassidy.
    Maggie in ontario canada

    • It sounds like they are needing more light. Here’s some information the stretching you’re seeing with your plants.

      You should be able to find the materials for making your own soil at your local nursery, and an automotive store is actually the easiest place to find Turface (something like Oil-dri). I talk more about soil here.
      Good luck!

  2. I have a Ruby Heart hens and chicks. When I first purchased the plant it was a beautiful red and a little green. Now it’s completely green. I have it in full sun all day, in a pot, and water as needed. Is this normal?

Let us know what you think!

Buy beautiful colorful succulents online from Mountain Crest Gardens

Many of the posts and pages on this site contain affiliate links. From time to time I receive free product to review and share with you but all opinions are my own and I'll only share products I like! Find out more by clicking here.

Find out more about these 10 easy to grow succulents and add them to your collection!
Find out everything you need to know about watering succulents!

Don't let poor watering techniques kill your succulents! Avoid the number one cause of unhealthy succulents with the tips and techniques in this ebook!

Learn how to grow healthy succulents indoors!

Growing succulents indoors is tricky business if you don’t know the proper soil, sunlight and watering requirements. But you can make succulents work for you, you just need to know the right way to care for them! Follow my step-by-step instructions and watch your worries float away and your succulents thrive, year after year :)

The secrets to propagating succulents successfully!

Would you like to multiply your lonely collection of succulents into dozens—and even hundreds—more? Good news: succulents can be propagated like wild bunnies, as long as you follow a few simple tricks. And best of all, they won't cost you a penny!

If you're looking for simple, quick tips to help you get started with succulents, this is the guide for you! These 30 tips cover the basics from buying and planting succulents to designing beautiful arrangements with them. Easy to read and easy to implement ideas to get you off on the right foot.

You'll find an incredible selection of cold hardy succulents at Mountain Crest Gardens

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Wondering who I am?

Let me introduce myself... My name is Cassidy Tuttle and I’m a professional photographer turned succulent addict. These are my two sweet children and wonderful husband in the photo with me!

My adventure with succulents started with three small plants on the window sill of my basement apartment. Within a year I had propagated them and purchased more, totaling over 100 plants!

It’s been a fun adventure since then as I’ve drowned, burned, frozen, and starved my collection of succulents. This site is where I teach you how to avoid all those mistakes I made or help you recover from them.

While I’ve killed plenty of succulents in the last few years, I’ve also kept hundreds alive and thriving, and I know you can do the same!

Did I mention I wrote the book on succulents?

It’s true! I’m the author of Idiot’s Guides: Succulents which is designed to help those of us who love succulents (but are limited to growing on our window sills and porches) keep our succulents looking great.

You can purchase my book through my Amazon affiliate link here or pick it up at your local Barnes and Noble.

If printed books aren’t your thing, I’ve also written several ebooks about succulents on various topics including indoor growing, watering and propagating. You can check those out on this page.

My goal is to help you not just keep your succulents alive, but help them thrive no matter where you live.

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff!

I’m impressed you’ve made it this far down. You should probably be rewarded for that…

How about some bite sized succulent tips delivered daily to your inbox?

I’m sure you’ll love my 30 Days of Quick Succulent Tips email series. Each day I’ll send you a 2-3 sentence tip about growing succulents along with a photo and link to learn more.

Sound good?


Still have a question or need help?

For help identifying your succulent click here.

Need help with an order you placed here or with one of our affiliates? Please email me ([email protected]) with your question.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.