Hens and chicks are succulents that are hardy in nature. They are famous for their endurance for poor conditions – poor soil, low temperatures, drought, and the list continues. But, you need to take care of certain things.
Hens and chicks don’t die so quickly. If they do, two reasons are responsible – negligence and end of the lifecycle. You can’t do anything for the latter. But if it’s the former, you have to save them with proper care and maintenance.
So, in this article, we shall learn how to revive dying hens and chicks.
Inadequate watering, low light, root rot, poor drainage, and pests are some reasons why your hens and chicks are dying. To save a dying plant, remove the dead leaves or damaged roots and improve their growing condition. If nothing else works, propagate the plant by replanting them.
Whether you are a beginner or experienced, anybody can make mistakes at some point. This article will share some simple ways to resolve the issues.
My hens and chicks are dying – What should I know?
Hens and chicks, also called houseleeks, belong to the genera of Sempervivum.
They are from the flowering plant family named Crassulaceae. They are native to southern Europe and northern Africa.
Hens and chicks are hardy, low-maintenance perennial succulents.
They are durable and can withstand many poor conditions like rocky soil, drought conditions, low temperatures, and dry air.
No matter how poor conditions they can tolerate, some requirements need fulfillment to keep them healthy.
If you constantly keep the hens and chicks neglected only because they can endure, they will soon wither.
They can tolerate for some time, not more prolonged periods. Eventually, they will die.
Some common reasons are:
- Overwatering and root rot
- Low light or full shade
- Pest infestation
Signs of a dying plant
When the hens and chicks are suffering due to your carelessness, they will display some symptoms, indicating that they are not in good health.
Watch the signs, identify the real cause and fix it as soon as possible.
Hens and chicks will come back at ease because of their sturdy nature.
Some familiar signs are:
- Yellow leaves
- Brown or red leaves
- Soft and mushy leaves
- Foul smell from the soil
- Deformed leaves with bite marks
What do I do if my hens and chicks are dying?
To save the plant from dying, first, look out for the symptoms and identify the genuine reasons behind the plant’s bad health.
Knowing the signs of the exact problem makes treatment effortless. It will quicken the revival process from death.
Let’s dive into the problems and solutions.
How do I save a dying plant from overwatering and root rot?
Hens and chicks don’t need much watering due to their rock lineages.
You need to water them when the top 1-2 inches of the soil gets dry.
They store water in their leaves and other parts, for which they don’t require frequent watering.
The problem happens when you blindly follow a routine without checking the soil’s moisture level.
They already store moisture in themselves.
Over that, if you constantly water them without letting the soil dry, they will soon suffer overwatering.
The leaves will turn soft, mushy, and yellow or brown.
If you pursue neglecting the plant, the soil will contain stagnant water, and the roots will rot.
Slowly the plant will turn brown or black from the center, indicating rot.
To save a dying plant from overwatering:
- Check the leaves when they turn yellow. If they feel mushy, stop watering.
- Make sure the plant receives enough sunlight. A good amount of sun can dry up the soil faster. It shouldn’t be too harsh or too direct sunlight.
- For the next watering, let the soil dry. Check if the top 1-3 inches of soil is dry or not.
- Overwatering chances increase the most when the temperature starts dropping. From the second half of fall, reduce watering gradually.
To save a dying plant from root rot:
The leaves at the bottom will begin to turn dark. It is a sign of root rot.
- When this happens, bring the plant out of its present location, remove the dark leaves and plant it in a dry location.
- If the maximum number of roots have rotted, remove them. Don’t worry because they will again grow back roots. Until then, don’t stress them.
- Make sure they are getting adequate sunlight. But don’t expose the plant to direct sunlight. They cannot handle direct sunlight in the absence of roots. Protect them from direct sunlight for 1-2 weeks. Once established, let them have more sunlight.
- Their leaves already store lots of water. Just try to keep the soil slightly moist. Don’t dampen the soil too much.
Also read: How Much Water Do Hens And Chicks Need? (Underwatering+Overwatering)
How to save dying hens and chicks from underwatering?
Hens and chicks can no doubt endure drought conditions.
But that doesn’t mean they will stay healthy if under-watered for a long time.
Some people keep them thirsty for a purpose.
When watered sparingly, the plant starts storing water in its leaves. As a result, they turn red.
The more water they reserve, the more reddish they will become.
But, this should not last for long. Hens and chicks need water to stay hydrated.
If you continue to keep them in such dry conditions, the leaves will begin to turn yellow, dry, shriveled, and brittle.
To save the plant from underwatering:
Start immediate watering when you see them dry and yellow.
Always check the soil’s moisture level. Never keep your Hens and chicks dry for long.
At least water them once a week, especially during the spring and summer.
When the temperature starts dropping, check the moisture level and water them.
If the plant is sitting under direct sunlight during the summer, increase watering.
It will save the plant from drought and sunburn too.
The yellow leaves will soon start to store water and become healthy.
Also read: Are Hens And Chicks A Succulent? (+Basic Care)
How to save dying hens and chicks from rotting?
Other than root rot, the hens and chicks will rot during two situations – poor soil and low light conditions.
Overwatering or root rot can also occur if the soil is not well-drained.
A soil that holds water for a long time will make the roots suffocating and mushy and soon rot.
Hens and chicks require lots of sunlight to thrive.
At least 6-8 hours of sun is a must, be it direct or indirect.
Without sunlight, they will turn pale and weak, the soil will not get dry, and they will begin to rot.
To improve drainage and save a dying plant, add porous materials like sand, gravel, perlite, or pumice to the soil.
One soil mix is:
- 25% Potting soil
- 50% Sand
- 15% Perlite/Vermiculite
- 10% Compost/Worm casting
- 50% Garden soil/Potting soil
- 50% Sand
- A handful of Compost
To save a dying plant due to low light conditions:
- Shift the plant to a sunny spot.
- Ensure there are no obstacles to block the sunlight from reaching the garden bed.
- If direct sunlight is not possible, let them have filtered sunlight.
- If the sun is too harsh to handle, arrange shading nets to filter the light.
- Do whatever seems feasible for your Sempervivum variety. Just make sure they never get deprived of sunlight. It is an essential factor for their excellent health.
Also read: Why Are My Hens And Chicks Rotting? (Causes+How To Fix)
How to save dying hens and chicks from a pest infestation?
Hens and chicks are resistant to pest and fungal diseases, except for root rot.
When maximum plants fail to survive a bug attack, hens and chicks can readily come back to health with proper care.
Many pests can attack the plant – aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites.
They feed on the saps and leaves, making the plant look weak and deformed.
When you see weak or droopy leaves, check the plant closely to witness any sight of bugs.
The tiny green moving bugs are aphids underside the leaves.
Those white moving dots resembling cotton are mealybugs.
They have a white wax as a coating to protect from insecticides.
The web lines the red marks on the leaves and stems indicate spider mites. There will be bite marks too.
Though they are immune, you still need to take quick steps to remove them from your plant.
Otherwise, your plant will die in front of you without your knowledge.
To save the plant from dying due to bug infestation:
- Plant a new plant away from other plants for some weeks to check whether it is healthy or infected.
- If an old plant gets invaded by bugs, isolate the plant. Remove the bitten leaves to enhance the look.
- Use insecticidal soaps like Safer Soap to terminate the pests.
- You can release ladybugs. They will feed on and kill the aphids.
- Water-based insecticides will be useless for mealybugs due to their wax coating. Try rubbing alcohol. Dab some of it on the infected area. Slowly, their shied will get loose and fall off the plant. Dabbing rubbing alcohol works for all bugs.
- You can also use neem oil. But you can’t expose the plant to direct sunlight as long as you use this oil. It can burn the leaves. Let the sun have filtered sunlight until the problem is solved.
- The last option is chemical insecticides and pesticides if all of the above fails.
- Try to prevent any other stress.
- Within a week or two, your Hens and chicks will recover.
Hens and chicks will also die when their lifecycle ends.
Hens and chicks live for 3-4 years maximum.
Within these years, they will continuously produce chicks.
In this way, they will always remain alive.
After 3-4 years of vigorous growth, they will flower once before dying. It is a death bloom. This is called the monocarpic process.
You will see the plant is growing leggy. This leggy is not a bad one.
Instead, it is a flower stalk called a rooster. You will notice bud clusters at the top.
Once it stops growing, a star-like, pink flower will appear. The plant will die after some days.
Here, you cannot save the plant from dying. It is their natural process.
Even if you cut the stalk, you can’t stop the plant from dying.
Cutting the flower stalk is your last chance to get more chicks.
If you don’t cut, you will get seeds. You can try seed propagation.
Remove the dead leaves from the plant.
The leaves will die after they finish their lifecycle.
But before that, dried and dead leaves are signs of problems related to watering, light, poor drainage, etc.
Removing the dead leaves will help the plant save energy and focus on growing new leaves.
It allows the plant to breathe and make it look clean and fresh.
Don’t rush while removing the foliage.
Slowly tug off the dead leaves from the bottom.
Don’t tear or pull too hard because it can bring the plant out.
Your plant may not be quite firm as they are stressed.
Also read: Are Hens And Chicks Annual Or Perennial?
How to care for hens and chicks to prevent dying?
Hens and chicks are indeed hardy succulents to fight and resist bad conditions. Still, look after their basic needs.
Neglecting them for prolonged periods can interrupt their growth, stop them from reaching their potential, increase various troubles and kill them.
Let me share a list of crucial care tips for these succulents to help them flourish and prevent dying:
Location, temperature, and climate
Hens and chicks thrive and grow best under temperatures of 65°F-75°F.
However, they can survive extreme temperatures. Naturally, they grow in zones 3-8. They can even survive -40°F.
If your region receives too high temperatures during summers, protect them from the punishing sun by putting up shading nets.
Increase the watering frequency to prevent sunburn.
Always apply water in the morning.
Also read: Hens And Chicks Temperature Tolerance: (How Cold, How Hot?)
Select a site with a minimum of 6-8 hours of sunlight.
It can be either filtered or direct, depending on the variety.
If exposed to adequate light, hens and chicks can develop bright, vibrant colors.
Don’t pamper too much by taking the plant indoors.
It stops the plant from reaching and showing its potential.
During harsh conditions, protect them so that they don’t suffer.
But don’t take them indoors. These succulents do best outdoors.
Never put them under full shade. It will lead to rot and the death of the plant.
Also read: Where Do Hens And Chicks Grow Best? (Best Spot+What To Look For)
Water the hens and chicks to keep them consistently moist and hydrated.
Following a strict routine varies during different seasons and becomes confusing.
Checking the moisture level regularly makes it easier to understand the plant’s water needs.
Water the Hens and chicks when the top 1-2 inches of soil dry.
One better method is to soak the soil thoroughly and water when the soil gets completely dry.
There are two advantages here:
The plant will experience neither overwatering nor underwatering.
When the plant remains a little thirsty, they store more water in leaves. It makes them red and looks gorgeous.
Skip watering during rains. Reduce watering frequency once the temperature begins dropping.
Using well-drained soil solves half of the watering problem.
Use well-drained soil. It will save half problem of overwatering.
Earlier, I have shared some mixes. Using them will save your Hens and chicks from overwatering.
Use materials like perlite or gravel to improve drainage.
And following the watering methods, I explained in the previous point will prevent underwatering.
Also read: What Kind Of Soil Do You Use For Hens And Chicks? (+Best Soil Mix)
By now, you might have got accustomed to the reasons behind a dying plant and how to save it.
Follow the care tips I shared. Those tips will solve maximum problems and keep your hens and chicks from dying repeatedly.
Give them enough sunlight, water them when needed, use well-drained soil, check for signs of pest infestation and fix as soon as possible.
Your hens and chicks will remain “always alive” by following these critical requirements, thus justifying the name “Sempervivum.”
Also read: 13 Tips For Growing Hens And Chicks
How do I save my dying hen and chicks – FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions to make the methods of saving a dying plant easy for you:
Will the brown foliage turn green again?
No. They are damaged and dead leaves. They will not turn green again.
Discarding them off the plant will make it look clean and tidy. Moreover, it will save the plant’s energy from getting wasted.
Is it necessary to remove the dead leaves from the plant?
If you don’t remove the leaves, the plant will use its energy to revive.
Disposing of them will save this energy and help the plant focus on new leaves. Moreover, removing leaves is vital if the damage is over 50%.
Not only just energy, removing dead leaves will allow the Hens and Chicks to breathe.
Reference: Wikipedia, Iowa State University of Science and Technology, The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, NSDU, The Ohio State University, Missouri Botanical Garden.