Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ (House Leek, Hens-and-Chickens, ETC.)

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 6-1-13, #151-67.

House Leek, Hens-and-Chickens, Jupiter’s Beard, Live Forever

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’

Sempervivum x comollii
(S. tectorum x S. wulfenii)

sem-per-VEE-vum  tek-TOR-um  X  sem-per-VEE-vum  wool-FEN-ee-eye


Synonyms of Sempervivum x comollii (3) (Updated on 12-20-22 from Plants of the World Online): Sempervivum × albidum Schnittsp. & C.B.Lehm., Sempervivum × calcaratum Baker, Sempervivum widderi C.B.Lehm. & Schnittsp.

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 x comollii Rota is an accepted species (natural hybrid) of Sempervivum. It was named and described as such by Lorenzo Rota in 1853. There isn’t much online about Lorenzo Rota and the link to his Wikipedia page goes to a different Lorenzo Rota. The Orto Botanico di Bergamo “Lorenzo Rota”, a botanical garden in Italy, is named in honor of him. 

Sempervivum tectorum L. is the accepted scientific name for one possible parent of Sempervivum ‘Oddity’. It was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

Sempervivum wulfenii Hoppe ex Mert. & W.D.J.Koch is the accepted scientific name of the other possible parent. It was described by Franz Carl Mertens and Wilhelm Daniel Joseph Koch in the 3rd edition of Deutschlands Flora in 1831. David Heinrich Hoppe was the first to name and describe the species. 

Sempervivum wulfenii was named after Franz Xavier von Wulfen, an 18th-century botanist from Austria and Jesuit abbot. He named a lot of plants and many were named in his honor. 

Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 52 species in the Sempervivum genus (as of 9-8-21 when I last updated this page). it is a member of the plant family Crassulaceae with 26 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made (and likely will). 


Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ after I brought it home on 4-20-13, #144-10.

I found this Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ at Lowe’s on April 20, 2013. I brought it and several other plants that day. I had moved from the mansion in Leland, Mississippi back to the family farm in west-Central Missouri. I gave up over 200 pots but I did bring a lot with me. This Sempervivum reminded me of the Crassula ovata ‘Lady Fingers’ with its tubular-shaped leaves. The label on this plant said Sempervivum tectorum cv. Oddity. Well, they got close and it is, no doubt a Sempervivum tectorum hybrid, as most Sempervivum cultivars are.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 4-20-13, #144-11.

I thought it was very unusual how the offsets were inside the larger plant. I had never seen anything like this before. There was no use thinking about it. I had to bring it home. 🙂

Some information online, mainly from retail websites, say Sempervivum tectorum ‘Oddity’, while others say it is a mutation of Sempervivum x comollii. Sempervivum x comollii is possibly a naturally occurring hybrid between Sempervivum tectorum and Sempervivum wulfenii. However, the International Crassulaceae Network states that no populations of S. wulfenii occur in the same areas of the Swiss Alps where Sempervivum x comollii are found… It goes on to state that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. A link to the International Crassulaceae Network page about S. x comollii can be found at the bottom of the page. Maybe it doesn’t matter that much about the parents to most people because this cultivar is truly unique and a great find to bring home.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 6-1-13, #151-67.

Once it was warm enough I took the plants outside repotted the Sempervivum ‘Oddity’. It was without a doubt one of the fastest-growing Sempervivum I had ever experienced.

Honestly, as of 2-21-21 when I am updating this page, I have tried 5 or 6 different cultivars since 2013. It would be 6 if we count the Heuffelii Hybrid that flops from Sempervivum to Jovibarba and back again on occasion. There have been others, I think over time, that were unnamed cultivars of Sempervivum tectorum. I have found Sempervivum to be AWESOME looking plants when they are looking good and happy. Keeping them that way is a much different story…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 6-29-13, #159-67.

Family: Crassulaceae.
Origin: Mountains of southern Europe.
Zones: USDA Zones 3-8 (° F) (DG says 5b-10b (-15 to 35).
Size: At least 2-3” tall.
Light: Sun to part shade.
Soil: Very well-drained. Potting soil amended with pumice (50/50) or additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1).
Water: Average during the growing period, barely in winter. 

I really like Sempervivum, and I have had several different species and cultivars. For some reason, I have some difficulty with them, and I think it has to do with the soil staying too damp over the winter if grown in the ground outside. Otherwise, they are supposed to be cold hardy here in west-Central Missouri… 

Even though several websites say this cultivar is winter hardy in cooler USDA Zones, I am somewhat skeptical…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 7-14-13, #162-51.

Information online says the leaves of Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ are folded lengthwise, upside down and backward. The tubes start out flat and solid and open up as they get older. A few people reported the leaves on their plants unfolded and then folded back up later. Sometimes they would observe the seam where the leaves were fused together. I have noticed the seam both on the Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ and the Crassula ovata ‘Lady Fingers’. I have not observed any of their leaves unfolding.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 7-30-13, #165-55.

The above photo was taken on one side of the pot on 7-30-13 showing the main (parent) plant. The next photo is the ther side of the pot showing a multitude of offsets.

As I mentioned, I had put the cluster in a larger pot once spring arrived and the plants were moved outside. I am writing part of this from memory 8 years after the above photo was taken. To be quite honest, this plant was the first Sempervivum I brought home… I had just started growing a lot of different plants in 2009 when I was living in Mississippi. My brother had Semps growing in his front yard in Minnesota and I had seen others growing where I had lived before. The label said it was cold hardy here, but I opted to keep it in a pot rather than putting it in the ground somewhere. My theory was I could control its moisture better… Well…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 7-30-13, #165-66.

When I lived in Mississippi, I used mainly Miracle Grow Potting Soil mixed with this and that. That “this and that” worked pretty well. However, when I moved back to Missouri, I didn’t have “this and that”. As I said, it has been several years from the time I am writing this and 2013 when I first brought this cultivar home. I had a lot of photos on this page originally, but I decided I would put them all on here and then write information under each photo. It shows how the plant (s) progressed over time and our ups and downs…

SO, likely, I was just using a combination of Miracle Grow Potting soil and additional pumice. Later, I started adding chicken grit in the combination, 2-1-1, for additional drainage. Sometimes I would buy a bag of Schultz Potting Soil which seemed to have fewer chunks of bark. I am not 100% sure what I put in this pot when I first transplanted the original S. ‘Oddity’, but I would say it didn’t have that much extra perlite nor did it have chicken grit… In 2018 I tried using a 50/50 combination of Miracle Grow Potting soil and pumice that I bought online from General Pumice…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 8-23-13, #178-88.

As far as care goes, they have the same requirements as other succulents. A well-draining soil is a must because these plants will rot if the soil stays too damp. I recommend planting Sempervivum in pots, a slightly elevated area, or raised beds so the soil will drain well.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 8-30-13, #181-53.

By August, the evening temperatures were getting cooler and the potting soil wasn’t drying out as fast. Well, it hadn’t really been drying out that fast to begin with, but now it was getting critical…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 9-17-13, #188-57.

By September 17, I noticed a lot of dead leaves…

Sempervivum x ‘Oddity’ on 10-7-13, #193-76.

Information online says they do well in sun to part shade. There is, of course, a catch. Sempervivum, for the most part, does enjoy bright light but the intense sun during hot summers can burn their leaves. Sempervivum does best in light shade but will even tolerate part shade. I had this plant on one of the plant tables behind a shed under an elm tree. They received a hint of morning sun and filtered sun throughout the day until in the afternoon when the sun went behind the shed. Despite the many issues with the elm trees, they were great to put plants under.

Sempervivum x ‘Oddity’ on 12-7-13, #208-47.

I moved the potted plants inside for the winter as temperatures started dropping in October. Many of the succulents I had did much better in the basement during the winter than upstairs in the heat. I found that many succulents will stretch (etiolate) when not given adequate light in warm temperatures upstairs. In the basement, they were allowed to go dormant much better even though the light was not very good. The Sempervivum did very well in the basement even though some of their leaves died.


Sempervivum x ‘Oddity’ on 6-1-14, #228-76.

Once outside again in the spring, I put them in another larger pot. You can tell the mixture in this pot is 2 parts potting soil, 1 part additional perlite, and 1 part chicken grit… They continued to thrive and there was never an issue.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 6-29-14, #230-80.

That is, there was no issue for a while… I am noticing in every photo I took that the soil seems to be wet because it is black…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 7-12-14, #231-85.

The above photo is the last one I took of the Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ in 2014…


Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 4-21-15, #242-16.

I am not sure exactly what happened with the Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ from 7-12-14 until 4-21-15. Apparently, I put them in a smaller pot because several died over the winter. I had to give up a lot of plants late in 2014 but I guess I managed to keep the Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ and another unnamed cultivar…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 5-1-15, #247-19.

ANYWAY, it started getting along better…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 5-16-15, #254-19.

And MUCH better by May 16…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 6-14-15, #268-41.

This photo shows a good example of the leaves on the smaller offsets. As you can see, their leaves are flat but I think they are folded from the start. As they get older, their leaves become tube-shaped.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 6-27-15, #270-45.

View from the top on June 27…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 7-12-15, #271-37.

I suppose I decided to spread them out again for some reason…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 7-12-15, #271-38.

But, I am somewhat confused… I guess I put some of the offsets in the bigger pot and kept one in the ther pot…


Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 7-19-16, #274-65.

Well, the Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ didn’t make it through the winter so I found another one at Wagler’s Greenhouse in 2016. Unfortunately, this one was short-lived…


Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 6-10-18, #457-12.

I finally found another Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ at Lowe’s on June 10, 2018. This one is growing offsets a little differently than the plants I had before.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ in a larger pot on 6-24-18, #463-11.

The stems on the offsets of the Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ before were very short, but this plants were longer so I put it in a large enough pot for them to spread out. Where they were sticking up in the small pot but after a few days in the larger pot they laid down.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 7-29-18, #487-92.

The Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ continues to do well with the runners getting longer to fill the pot.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 8-26-18, #499-39.

We must have been getting a lot of rain because the potting soil is wet…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 10-10-18, #519-64.

We made it through the summer but I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on 10-10-18. I had to remove a lot of dead leaves from the parent plant and of the offsets were growing better than others.

This pot of Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ did not survive the winter. I think it was in too large a pot, as far as depth was concerned, and the soil also seemed to stay damp for too long. It is also possible it needed more sun than where the pot was sitting on the front porch steps. It was a combination of things…


Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 3-30-21, #786-3.


I was at Wagler’s Greenhouse on March 30 and her son had brought in several succulents. Among them were a few Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ so I decided to bring home another one. I think this makes the fourth one. This one looks very good, but then again, so did the last one. 🙂 It has a few offsets growing…

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ on 4-3-21, #788-11.

After a few days on the front porch, the offsets were getting longer… Hopefully, this one will do well all summer and maybe even survive the winter… I gave Mrs. Wagler her start a few years ago and she said sometimes it looks good and sometimes it doesn’t. I am not sure where she has it hid…

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.

(GENUS/S. x comollii/S. tectorum/S. wulfenii)

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