The genus, Sempervivum L., was described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. He wasn’t the first to name the genus as they had been known long before.
As of 12-20-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 52 species in the Sempervivum genus. it is a member of the plant family Crassulaceae with 36 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made (and likely will).
There are several great websites online about Sempervivum, I will just add a few of their links instead of doing a big write-up. I am not an expert, by far. I just like growing plants, taking a lot of photos, and writing about them. This is a parent page for the Sempervivums I have grown.
Sempervivum are great plants once you figure out what they want. I have grown six different species and cultivars and some have been very tricky and eventually fizzled out. The only one that has remained is Sempervivum ‘Killer’ which I planted in the ground. The others I had in pots and I brought them inside for the winter. I think by far the reason most of them fizzled out was because of soil moisture. In pots, they were in a mixture of Miracle Grow Potting Soil amended with additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1). Peat stays damp for a while once it is soaked and the soil was usually too damp when I brought the pots inside and put them in the basement over the winter. The Sempervivum in the ground is in a planter that drains well in ordinary topsoil. The secret to growing Semps is for them to be in well-draining soil. They like ample moisture during the summer as it rains, and maybe a little supplemental water when it is hot and dry. Even though we do get plenty of moisture during the fall and winter, it still survives and returns the next spring. I will keep trying to grow more because they are great plants. I just have to figure out how to get those that are not reliably winter hardy here in west-central Missouri (USDA Zone 6) to overwinter inside.
There are HUNDREDS, one website says over 4,000, named cultivars of Sempervivum. Many cultivars look so much alike, so if you bring home unnamed plants trying to figure out the name is nearly impossible. Most of what you will find are cultivars of Sempervivum tectorum.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE
THE SEMPERVIVUM PAGE
GARDENING KNOW HOW
I am a big fan of the Sempervivum ‘Oddity’. I have been growing this cultivar, hybrid, or whatever you choose to call it since I brought my first one home from Lowe’s in 2013. Sometimes they do well and overwinter inside with no problem and sometimes they don’t. I am not sure how many I have brought home, but I will likely keep doing it…
Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ was developed by Sandy McPherson and introduced in 1977. It won the 1978 Best Bronze Award for best new variety. Information suggests it is possibly a mutation of Sempervivum x comollii, which is thought to be a natural hybrid between Sempervivum tectorum x Sempervivum wulfenii where the two species grow in the same area.
Sempervivum arachnoideum (Cobweb Houseleek) are always fun to grow because of their webby appearance. Even though they are supposedly cold-hardy in my zone, they do not survive the winter outside. I have tried overwintering them inside as well, but that doesn’t work so well either.
I brought this Sempervivum heuffelii (Job’s Beard, Etc.) home from Lowe’s in 2014. It did very well over the summer but didn’t return in 2015.., The tag said “Jovibarba heuffelii Hybrid” but that genus is now a synonym of Sempervivum.
I brought this Sempervivum tectorum (House Leek, Hens-and-Chickens, Jupiter’s Bears, Live Forever, Etc.) home from Wagler’s Greenhouse in 2014. I kept it in a pot inside over winter in the basement and it did fine.
I brought this really nice Sempervivum Hybrid ‘Killer’ home from Green Street Market, a garden center in Clinton, Missouri, on April 24, 2018. We have had our ups and downs. By 2020 and 2021 it had all but dissappeared…
That’s all I have for the Sempervivum genus for now. I will continue bringing more home even though they may not survive the winter either outside or in pots… GEEZ!