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Once, every grandchild received a start of this plant from their grandmother. Rosettes of leaves (the hens) send out many offsets (the chicks) which can be pulled off and transplanted. Prefers sun in almost any soil. Unusual flowers spikes are produced eventually. A resurgence of interest has Sempervivums used in living wreaths, spilling out of clay pots, old tea kettles, and even retired work boots.
All derive from alpine species native to the mountains of southern Europe and western Asia. The rosettes develop by long-stalked offsets into crowded, colorful, richly textured mats. In summer the older rosettes send out thick upright stems bristling with stubby pointed leaves and topped with dense clusters of tightly packed pink blooms. Rosettes die after flowering.