Hens and Chicks are succulents that can endure and fight troubles. One serious problem that arises is rotting. But why are your hens and chicks rotting? Let’s find out.
The primary reason behind the rotting of hens and chicks is overwatering or poor drainage. If the soil holds moisture for too long, the roots will turn soft and mushy, and then the plant will begin rotting. It also occurs due to continuous watering without checking the soil’s moisture level.
Besides these, other reasons include insufficient light, high humidity, pests, and fungal infections. A pot without a drainage hole is also on the list, provided you kept them in containers outdoors.
As a beginner, it’s difficult to understand the reasons behind rotting.
In this article, I will discuss the causes of rotting Hens and chicks and how to fix them.
We will also share some care tips to keep the Hens and Chicks healthy and prevent rotting.
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Why do my Hens and Chicks keep rotting?
Hens and Chicks are low-maintenance plants that survive under poor conditions, water, or soil.
But still, you need to fulfill some of their basic requirements.
If you fail, your plant can start rotting and die.
Below I have shared some possible reasons behind rotting Hens and Chicks.
Overwatering and root rot
The principal cause behind rotting Hens and Chicks is overwatering.
Hens and Chicks are considered drought-tolerant because they can survive drought conditions to some extent without any damage.
But if overwatered, the plant will begin to show symptoms like yellow or brown leaves.
These succulents hold lots of moisture in their broad leaves, stems, and roots.
If you continue overwatering them, the water remains stagnant in the soil instead of getting absorbed.
As a result, their roots sit in the water for a long time, get soft, mushy, and start rotting.
In the beginning, the rotting starts with the roots.
Over time, it spreads to the middle of the rosette.
If not fixed early, it can further invite fungal infections.
It will be a challenging job to revive the plant back.
If it gets worse, the plant will die.
You must know the correct routine of watering Hens and Chicks if you want to keep them from rotting.
How do I fix it?
To save the plant from rotting, you need to stop overwatering.
To prevent overwatering, allow the soil to dry out well before going for the next watering.
Or, rather than following any regime, water when the top 1-2 inches of soil gets dry.
You can check the soil’s moisture level with a moisture meter if you’re not sure of how you can do it with your finger.
If the rotting is still within the roots, you can remove the affected roots and plant the Hens and chicks in a different site.
Planting in the same area can again cause rotting due to bacteria.
The roots will develop quickly and bring the plant back to life.
Removing the plant’s roots won’t harm the plant.
Make sure the soil has good drainage.
Continue reading to know about some soil mixes suitable for Hens and Chicks.
When the temperature begins to drop, reduce the watering amount and frequency.
In the cold months, Hens and Chicks won’t need much watering.
Pots without drainage holes
This point is only applicable for growing Hens and Chicks in containers.
Hens and Chicks do best outdoors because of sufficient sunlight.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t plant Hens and Chicks in pots.
You can plant them in pots and keep them outdoors.
Hens and Chicks look best in containers.
You can skip this if you are planting Hens and Chicks directly in the ground.
Hens and Chicks rot because water remains stagnant when your planter doesn’t have drainage holes to flush off the excess water.
In such a case, the roots will remain wet for long.
As a result, the roots will turn mushy, soft, and dark. Slowly, they will begin to rot.
What to do?
The main thing about these succulents is they can’t tolerate damp conditions as they can endure droughts.
That is why drainage and proper watering are of utmost importance.
Using a pot with drainage holes is a must.
If you have the habit of overwatering, use clay or terracotta pots.
Their quality of wicking away moisture can save your Hens and Chicks from rotting.
Poor soil quality
It doesn’t mean poor nutrition, but poor drainage.
Hens and Chicks can thrive in low nutritious soil with ease.
The necessary factor is drainage.
The excess water will not drain out of the soil without proper drainage.
As a result, the plant will stand over moist soil for a long time.
It can make the roots suffocating and mushy. They will soon begin to rot.
A good quality soil should retain moisture and also drain excess water.
Only then, the plant will remain healthy.
How to improve drainage?
Use the type of soil that can help in draining excess water.
Don’t make the soil too heavy or rich in nutrients.
Hens and Chicks don’t require highly nutritious soil.
Instead, it will make them stretchy. Focus more on drainage.
Avoid using pure garden soil or peat. They hold moisture for long, thus resulting in overwatering and rotting.
Some ideal soil mixes for good drainage would be:
Perlite, sand, gravels, and pumice are famous porous materials that promote excellent drainage.
Please make raised beds. They don’t hold moisture for long.
Rocky soil is another good choice.
Though root development can be tricky, Hens and Chicks won’t face issues because of their shallow roots.
Rocky soil doesn’t hold moisture too for long.
You can also plant Hens and Chicks over large rock slabs.
Drill a small hole, add some soil and place them in it.
Water them regularly.
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Hens and Chicks enjoy growing under lots of direct sunlight.
Generally, the average sunlight requirement for all the Hens and Chicks is about 6-8 hours.
It may vary depending on the variety you own.
The smaller varieties need 4-6 hours of direct sunlight in the morning and protection from the day and afternoon sun.
The larger varieties need 8-10 hours of full sun throughout the day.
They will need security from too high temperature and sunlight.
The concern is light. All Hens and Chicks will require sunlight, be it full or dappled.
Without light, the Hens and Chicks will be stretchy and weak.
The water you provide will not dry quickly.
As a result, the plant will be sick, and then it starts rotting and dying.
How to correct light issues?
Before you plant them, select a site that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.
The site should be free from blockages like tall trees or buildings.
If there is too much sun, arrange shading nets to filter the light.
Arrange artificial lights if sunlight is rare.
Try the southern, western, or eastern side of your garden for good sunlight.
These directions will receive enough sunlight.
High humidity levels
Hens and Chicks don’t like humidity.
They will endure an average humidity of 30%-50%.
If your region receives high humidity in the hot weather, it will rot due to excessive moisture.
If the humidity level is high in your region and the temperature reaches about 90°F, the Hens and Chicks will begin to rot.
Moreover, while watering, water splashing on the leaves tends to increase the plant’s humidity level, thus making it vulnerable to decay.
What can I do?
There is nothing much to do here because we cannot control the natural high humidity.
Still, you can prevent the plants from getting high humid levels.
While planting them, let them have at least 4-6 inches of distance between each plant.
It will increase ventilation which can further stop the plant from high humidity.
Continue watering to cool down the plant roots.
Avoid watering on the leaves. Water the Hens and Chicks close to the soil.
If you are growing Hens and chicks outdoors in pots, bring them inside and keep them in a cool, dry room until the outside humidity normalizes.
Pests cannot weaken the Hens and Chicks quickly due to being hardy succulents.
But still, you need to fix the problem whenever you find any symptoms.
Otherwise, they will stay and feed on the plant and its juices, making the plant weak and susceptible to rotting.
When you see moving white dots, they are mealybugs for sure.
They have white wax-coating that is their shield to protect from insecticides.
They feed on the saps of the leaves and make the plant weak.
If infestation is significant, they will eat up the whole plant and rot them.
If spread, they will damage the other plants.
Pest attack is another terror like root rot.
In most situations, mealybugs are the common pests that attack the Hens and Chicks.
How to get rid?
Removing mealybugs is quite a job.
They don’t get removed easily by water-based insecticides due to their shield.
You need to use other effective methods, targeting their armor.
Take some rubbing alcohol in a cotton ball and dab on the infected area.
It will weaken their shield and make them fall off the plant.
Spray some neem oil. Some people don’t get good results by using it.
First, apply on a small portion to check its reaction.
If it is doing fine, then approach the whole plant.
Use insecticidal soaps like Safer Soap to remove the bugs.
To make an ideal neem oil solution, you need to mix three things:
- 1 liter of warm water.
- 1-2 ml of mild dishwasher soap.
- 1 teaspoon of neem oil.
Mix them in a bottle thoroughly.
Spray on the leaves, concentrating more on the infested area.
Wait for 24 hours to see the result.
If the results are positive, apply it every week until all the pests are dead.
The only problem with using this oil is that it burns Hens and Chicks exposed to direct sunlight.
To avoid such burns, let them have filtered sunlight until the pest problem gets resolved.
Hens and Chicks don’t suffer much from fungal infections, except for root rot.
There are also chances of fungal infections during the winters.
The weather and soil both are cold.
Moreover, the soil got coated with snow.
Extended cold conditions can trigger rotting, especially if you water them.
There can be chances of fungi development.
Another condition is when people mulch the soil bed using dried barks and leaves.
The snow will wet these mulches and decay them.
It will invite fungal diseases.
How to treat infection?
Hens and Chicks remain dormant in winters.
Don’t water them during winters, especially if there has been snowfall or rain.
If there is no snow, water only after the soil is dry. Avoid if there have been rains.
If you have planted them in pots and brought them indoors, you can continue regular watering because they would neither receive outside cold nor will they go dormant.
If the disease is already there, apply some fungicide to the infected area.
Also, spray some to other parts of the plant to prevent spreading.
Spray some organic fungicide before winter. It will prevent the development of fungal diseases.
Don’t use dry barks or leaves for mulching. The risk of fungal infection increases when they get wet and decay.
Instead, use small stones, pebbles, or gravels for mulching.
How to care for Hens and Chicks?
Hens and Chicks are low-maintenance succulents.
They don’t need much attention except for some requirements you need to follow.
It will keep your Hens and chicks healthy and safe from rotting.
Below I shared some tips which will keep them in good condition without rot:
Water when needed.
Hens and Chicks will need watering once or twice a week during the spring and summer.
The best way to avoid rotting is water when the soil gets dry.
It is an ideal way to understand the plant’s water needs. In the cold months, reduce watering.
Let them have adequate light.
Hens and Chicks are fans of sunlight.
Plant them at a site where they receive at least 6-8 hours of sun.
It might be different for various varieties.
I have already conveyed it earlier.
Allow your Hens and chicks to receive the sunlight as per their need.
Moreover, a good amount of sunlight can stop pests and fungal diseases from reaching your plant.
Hens and Chicks won’t rot quickly under enough sunlight.
Use well-drained soil.
The soil must be well-drained to avoid the rotting of the Hens and Chicks.
Try using the soil mixes as recommended previously.
Those mixes will help drain excess water and stop the plant from further rotting.
Use pot with drainage holes.
If you want to keep Hens and Chicks in pots outdoor, check for drainage holes while buying.
It will stop the accumulation of water in the soil and drain it from the potholes, thus saving the plant from rotting.
For improving drainage more, use clay or terra cotta pots.
It will save the plant from decay to a great extent.
Check out for pests and fungal development.
Giving them proper watering and sunlight will save them from such infestation.
But still, you must observe your plant daily to watch out for pests and fungus.
The moment you see anything, take action quickly.
Generally, Hens and Chicks are resistant to such infestation.
But, there can be chances of fungal development in winters.
Spray some fungicides before the winter to prevent them.
Other than that, infestation occurs during lengthy damp and drought conditions.
Pursuing the proper watering will save the plant.
Final thoughts on rotting Hens and Chicks
Since the prolonged damp condition is the primary cause behind rotten Hens and Chicks, try to keep Hens and Chicks dry.
Instead of following a schedule, check the moisture level.
If the soil feels dry and doesn’t stick your finger if poked, then you can water the plant.
Use well-drained soil. The soil mixes I recommended are great at drainage and also readily available.
If you are not using raised beds, add gravel or sand with the garden soil to improve drainage.
If you use containers, make sure it contains drainage holes. Go for the clay pots instead of plastic ones.
Let them have enough light.
Maintain a distance of at least 4-6 inches between each plant to improve ventilation and prevent overcrowding.
Check out for pests and fungus infiltration.
Follow the care tips to prevent rotting and witness beautiful succulents covering your garden.
What often should I water Hens and Chicks?
Since overwatering is the root cause of Hens and Chicks rot, it is essential to follow a watering regime.
In general, water Hens and Chicks once a week during the spring and summer. This frequency can increase in summer or decrease in winter.
Hens and Chicks require less water in winter due to dormancy.
Sometimes, they will not need watering during rains or snowfall.
So, the best way is to wait for the next watering until the soil gets completely dry.
What do rotted Hens and Chicks look like?
Excessive moisture will make the leaves swell and soft.
The rotten roots will turn dark and mushy.
When the rot progress to the middle of the rosette, it will turn black and mushy.
The leaves, too, will be dark in color.
Don’t water when you find the soil is damp to avoid overwatering or root rot.
Only water the Hens and chicks when the soil is completely dry.