Why Are My Hens And Chicks Growing Tall? (4 Major Reasons with Easy Fixes)

Hens and chicks, also known as sempervivum, are known for their small and flat shape. They are often found in flower pots or rock gardens. But sometimes, these plants show an unusual growth: they grow taller.

Earlier I used to wonder why are my hens and chicks growing tall, and then I thought of doing a complete research on this topic.

Here I have talked about why and how hens and chick plants can grow tall. This doesn’t normally happen, so it’s interesting to know the reasons.

I will also discuss things such as the environment, how they are grown, and the kinds of plant types that can grow tall.

Hens and chicks growing tall
Hens and chicks growing tall

Hens and chicks growing tall: Causes and Solutions

Hens and chick plants are generally known for their low growth and compact appearance. However, it may indicate an issue with their care when they start growing tall. Two of the main reasons are insufficient light and overwatering.

Below, we will delve into these causes, their effects on the plants, and practical solutions to help your hens and chicks return to their normal growth pattern.

Hens and chicks are growing tall- Causes and Solutions
Hens and chicks growing tall: Causes and Solutions

The Impact of Light: Not Enough Sunlight

Hens and chick plants are native to rocky areas with high sun exposure. They have adapted to thrive with ample sunlight, which they use for photosynthesis and healthy growth.

Without an adequate light source, they may respond by stretching or “etiolating” towards any available light. This leads to vertical growth, as well as weak and pale foliage.


If your hens and chicks are not receiving sufficient sunlight, follow these steps to help them recover:

  1. Assess light conditions: Use a light meter or observe the natural sunlight patterns in your garden or indoor space. Determine which areas get the most sunlight throughout the day, and consider how your hens and chick plants can benefit from this natural resource.
  2. Gradual exposure: Slowly acclimate the plants to more sunlight to avoid sunburn. Begin with indirect sunlight, increasing their exposure by an hour or two each day until they receive at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sun daily.
  3. Monitor and adjust: Observe your plants closely for any appearance or overall health changes. If needed, adjust their sunlight exposure accordingly.

Overwatering: Preventing Excess Moisture

Overwatering is a common issue among hens, chicks, and other succulents. When you give them more water than they need, the plants’ roots may become unable to take up oxygen, leading to root rot.

Additionally, excess water can cause the cells in the leaves and stems to swell and elongate, making the plant appear taller.


Follow these guidelines to ensure that your hens and chicks receive the proper amount of water:

  1. Observe plant behavior: Learn to recognize the signs of overwatering, such as yellowing leaves, mushy stems, and an elongated appearance.
  2. Use the right soil: Opt for well-draining, sandy or gritty soil, which allows water to flow freely through the root zone, avoiding saturation.
  3. Water properly: Hens and chicks require infrequent watering as they store water in their leaves. Depending on the season, water is once a week during the summer and once a month during the winter. Make sure the soil dries completely between waterings. Avoid using a spray bottle, as this does not provide enough deep hydration.
  4. Consider the environment: Keep in mind the humidity and temperature in your area, as these factors affect how quickly the soil dries out between waterings. Adjust your watering schedule as needed to maintain the ideal moisture level for your hens and chicks.

Over Fertilizing: Less is More

Hens and chicks, like all plants, require nutrients to grow. However, these hardy succulents have adapted to survive in nutrient-poor soils. When they receive excess nutrients from fertilizers, it can cause rapid, unnatural growth and root damage.

This results in taller, less compact plants with weak stems.


To steer clear of overfertilizing your hens and chicks plants, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the right fertilizer: Opt for a slow-release, well-balanced fertilizer specifically designed for succulents with a lower nitrogen concentration (e.g., 5-10-10).
  2. Limit fertilizer use: Hens and chicks plants do not require frequent fertilization. Instead, apply fertilizer once a year, typically in the spring when new growth begins.
  3. Monitor plant health: Observe your plants for any signs of excessive growth, weak stems, or poor health, and adjust your fertilization practices accordingly.

Flowering: A Natural Lifecycle Stage

The growth of tall stalks in hens and chicks plants can also occur when they are ready to flower.

When a hen reaches full maturity, it produces a tall flower stalk called an “inflorescence“. This is a natural part of the plant’s lifecycle and signals that the mother plant is nearing the end of its life.


While this growth process is unavoidable, here are some ways to manage and appreciate this natural stage of your hens and chicks plants:

  1. Anticipate the inevitable: During their lifecycle, mature hens and chicks plants will eventually produce flower stalks and die. It’s essential to embrace this as a natural part of the plant’s lifecycle.
  2. Focus on the offspring: When the hen flowers and dies, its offsets or “chicks”, will continue to grow and thrive. Take care of these young plants by providing the appropriate amount of light, water, and nutrients. They will grow up and eventually reproduce themselves.
  3. Enjoy the beauty: Although it marks the end of the mother plant’s lifecycle, the flowering stage is beautiful. The inflorescence can range from pink to red, adding color to your hens and chicks plants. Enjoy this moment, and appreciate the flowers while they last.

Remember, like any living organism, they can sometimes behave unexpectedly due to unpredicted or uncontrolled changes in their environments. In some cases, the reason behind the tall growth remains a mystery. However, as a plant owner, the best thing you can do is to strive to provide consistent care, monitor your plants carefully for any changes, and adapt your care routine as needed.

Moreover, variations among different types of hens and chicks plants might exist. Some naturally have a slightly different growth pattern and may grow a bit taller than the typical height of their species. When selecting your plants, research the specific variety to understand their normal growth habits and potential size.

If you have ensured that your plant has the proper light, water, soil, and fertilizer and is still growing unusually tall, you may want to consult a local nursery or extension service. They can often diagnose plant problems and guide how to correct the issue.

How do you fix tall hens and chicks? (Advanced Steps)

Restoring the appearance of tall hens and chicks plants may sometimes require removing the affected plant and using propagation techniques to grow new, compact plants. Here’s a detailed guide on carrying out these advanced steps.

How do you fix tall hens and chicks (Advanced Steps)
How do you fix tall hens and chicks? (Advanced Steps)

Step 1: Remove the Tall Plant

When a hens or chicks plant becomes too tall, and other measures haven’t been effective in returning it to its compact form, you can remove the plant to maintain the visual appeal of your garden or planter. To do this, you will need the following tools:

  • A sharp, clean pair of scissors or pruning shears
  • Gloves (optional but recommended)

Gently work your way around the base of the tall plant, carefully cutting it away from the main rosette or group of plants. Try to leave the roots undamaged to allow the remaining plants to continue growing.

Step 2: Propagate the Removed Plant

Instead of discarding the tall plant, you can propagate it to create a new, healthier specimen. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Select the right cutting: Look for a healthy leaf or stem; avoid using parts that appear damaged or diseased.
  2. Prepare the cutting: Snip off the chosen leaf or stem at its base using your scissors or pruning shears. Make a clean, straight cut.
  3. Allow the cut to heal: Place the cutting on a paper towel or clean surface in a dry, shaded area. Let it sit for 1-2 days, allowing a callus to form over the cut area. This step reduces the risk of rot once the cutting is planted.
  4. Plant the cutting: Once a callus has formed, plant the cutting in a well-draining, succulent-specific soil mix. Gently push the base of the cutting into the soil so that it stands upright.

Step 3: Look After Your New Plant

Proper care ensures your new plant grows into a healthy, compact, rosette-shaped succulent. Follow these care guidelines:

  1. Location: Place your newly planted cutting in an area that receives plenty of sunlight, ideally 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  2. Watering: Allow the soil to dry completely before watering your new plant. Water sparingly at first to give the cutting time to establish its roots. Then, gradually increase the amount of water, following a typical hens and chicks watering schedule (once a week during summer and once a month during winter).
  3. Fertilization: Wait for the cutting to establish itself before applying any fertilizer. Use a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer specifically designed for succulents when it’s time.
  4. Monitor growth: Keep a close eye on your new plant, ensuring that it develops a strong root system, healthy leaves, and a compact growth habit.

Can I cut a succulent that is too tall?

Yes, you can cut a succulent that is too tall. Trimming tall succulents helps maintain their appearance and ensure healthy growth. To successfully trim a tall succulent, follow these steps:

Can I cut a succulent that is too tall
Can I cut a succulent that is too tall?
  1. Identify the ideal cutting point: Inspect the plant and decide where to cut to achieve the desired size.
  2. Make the cut: Using a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears or scissors, make a clean, straight cut at the chosen point.
  3. Remove lower leaves (if needed): Remove any lower leaves from the stem to ensure the plant maintains a balanced appearance.
  4. Allow the cuttings to callus over. Place the cutting in a dry, shaded area for a few days until a callus forms over the cut end.
  5. Plant the cuttings (optional): If you wish to propagate them, plant them in well-draining soil and follow proper care guidelines.

It’s essential to sanitize your tools and work in good lighting to ensure a safe trimming process. Also, always protect your hands with gloves to prevent injury or irritation from the succulent sap.

Hens and chicks death bloom

Hens and chicks (Sempervivum) are popular succulents known for their attractive rosettes and ability to produce offshoots or “chicks” around the parent “hen” plant. Hens and chicks plants are monocarpic, meaning they die after flowering. This process is called the “death bloom” or “bloom of death.” Below, we discuss the flowering process and how it affects the plant’s growth.

Hens and chicks death bloom
Hens and chicks death bloom

Hens and Chicks Death Bloom

The life cycle of a hens and chicks plant goes through the following stages:

  1. Growth: The plant grows and produces offshoots through vegetative reproduction. The mother plant (or “hen”) generates smaller plants (or “chicks”) around it. This growth stage can last for several years.
  2. Flowering: After reaching maturity, usually within three to five years, the mother plant will start to produce a flower stalk. The stalk will grow taller and eventually produce one or more flower clusters. This is when the characteristic rosette shape disappears, and the plant elongates.
  3. Setting seeds: The flowers will eventually fade, and seeds will form in the seed capsules. These seeds can be collected and sown to grow new plants.
  4. Death: Sometime after flowering and setting seeds, the mother “hen” plant will die, completing its life cycle. However, the surrounding “chick” plants will continue to grow and eventually produce their flowers, repeating the process.

Growth Pattern During Death Bloom

During the death bloom, hens and chicks plants do grow taller. The rosette shape transforms as the mother plant elongates, producing the flowering stalk. Depending on the species and growing conditions, the stalk can reach a few inches to about a foot in height.

Once the death bloom cycle is complete and the mother plant dies, it can be removed, leaving the surrounding “chicks” to grow and fill the space.

In conclusion, hens and chicks plants typically grow tall during the death bloom, a natural part of their life cycle. This process ultimately results in the mother plant’s death. Still, the remaining “chicks” will continue to grow, expand, and eventually bloom, ensuring a steady supply of new plants for your garden.

frequently asked question (FAQs)

How big do hen and chick succulents get?

Answer: Hen and chick succulents can grow between 1-8 inches in diameter, depending on the variant. Generally, the mature mother hen grows to about 4-8 inches wide, while the smaller chicks stay within the 1-3 inches range.

 How long do hen and chick plants last?

Answer: With proper care, hen and chick plants are perennial and can last for many years. The mother hen plant can live and produce new chicks each year for over a decade.


Hens and chicks growing tall is a natural part of their life cycle, often occurring when the plants reach maturity and are about to experience their ‘death bloom.’ While vertical growth might lead to aesthetic concerns, it’s crucial to understand that it’s a temporary phase in their journey.

To ensure the health and vigor of these succulents, proper care and timely propagation practices need to be followed. Enjoying hens and chicks for years is possible through maintenance, understanding their growth patterns, and appreciating their unique life cycle.

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