'Pekinese' Houseleek, or
Hen & Chicks
"Oh, blooms & storms must blush & freeze,
While seasons come & go!"
-Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
Houseleeks are so-called because of an old tradition of planting them on the roofs of houses where they were believed to protect the home from storms & lightning. Their alternate common name Hen & Chicks is from the large central rosette being the hen, arrayed all around with smaller rosettes.
The houseleek cultivar 'Pekinese' (sometimes incorrectly listed as 'Pekinense') was registered in 1975.
The American hybridizer was Helen E. Payne, author of Sempervivums & Sedums (Medford, Oregon: Pine Cone Publishers, 1972)
The center of each rosette is furry, thanks to that part of their hybrid history that begins with Sempervivum arachnoideum, the cobweb houseleek. It was crossed with Heufell's houseleek (S. heuffelii synonymous with Jovibarba heuffelii).
Pink star-flowers can appear at any time from mid-summer to early autumn. The flower portrait above is from July (2003).
The summer coloration of its tightly leafed succulent rosettes is pale apple-green, as can be seen in the first photo. New leaves in spring have red to pink blush, as can be seen in the second photo snapped April 2004, but slowly fades to apple-green.
Although very sun-loving like the majority of houseleeks, the paler green ones can sometimes be just slightly less happy in extreme sunshine. 'Pekinese' might like at least a little protection during droughty summer heatwaves. Be sure to get some water to it on the hottest days. If grown in a pot, it should not be placed directly in a sunny window all summer.
'Pekinese' presently grows on front the staircase. We piled up some soil in the corner several of the steps, barriered the soil with rocks so that rain wouldn't wash the soil off the edge, & put a different sempervivum on each step. They require so little soil that these semperviva do just fine in such a situation.
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