Tips on Caring for Sempervivum

The Latin word “sempervivum” literally means “always living” or “always alive.” This is the reputation of the sempervivum plant, which, if exposed to full sun often, seems to always be alive, even in the winter. Sempervivum look like little spiky rosettes that pop up all over rock faces and cracks. They have literally thousands of different colors and come in thousands of varieties—there’s an estimated 50 different species, with 3000 different cultivars thereof. Sempervivum require full sun, little water, great drainage, and deadheading. They don’t really require much else.

Creating the Right Environment

Because sempervivum needs a rocky environment to grow, it’s best if you use a high amount of gravel and grit for which to plant them. You should use a little bit of cactus mix compost and supplement the rest with rocks, like pea gravel, for which to root your sempervivum. They like dry environments and full sun, but they tolerate the frigid cold of temperate to moderate winters.


Begin with a flat planting box, shallow in nature, and fill it with gravel halfway up. Add a layer of your cactus compost, and then with more grit. Poke a hole into the layers of soil for your sempervivum with your fingers and then nestle the plant down into it. You should have a sempervivum that’s ready to grow and keep growing.

When a sempervivum grows, it doesn’t grow bigger rosettes per se, but rather, it produces more of them that pop up around the first planted rosette. The problem with sempervivum, though, is that after it produces a flower, it dies. When you remove the dead rosette like you should, just by pulling it out and tossing it away, you will find there’s a naked spot in its place. Add a rocky compost to the hole, and the rest of the sempervivum will follow the nutrients and sprout up a new sempervivum rosette in that very same place.

Using it as Insulation

Sempervivum is used as a roofing helper in some countries, being grown between beams, tiles, or thatch. While this isn’t common practice, it does help with insulating the home to have sempervivum grown in a rock garden on the roof. Because the sempervivum absorb full-sun as much as they can, they can actually help to cut down on your cooling bill every summer! Talk about useful. They can also help to expel more oxygen into the air, which makes planting sempervivum on your roof an ecologically responsible thing to do as well.

Cultivating these succulents on your roof will also give you the chance to change the color of your roof—you can find cultivars in all different colors of the rainbow, and even some of more than one color! If you choose to plant sempervivum in or even on your home, you’ll be pleased with its ease of care and its simple beauty.