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Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) or Houseleeks are low-growing succulents that will live long and prosper! They are among a group that has more than 3,000 varieties. The name Sempervivum is Latin for “live forever” because they produce many plantlets over time. The large center rosette or “hen” produces tiny offsets or “chicks.” All leaves are fleshy and arranged in a circular pattern. When mature the center rosette produces a thick flower stalk with star-shaped flowers. Once it blooms, the central rosette dies. Their many varieties range from green to red. Some are smooth in texture, while others are covered with white threads like a web.

Hens and Chicks make great container plants and tend to grow slowly. They thrive in terra cotta pots that are wide and shallow, providing room to spread. They require minimal watering and thrive on sunlight. However, they do need protection from very cold weather.

Planting

Sow seeds of cantaloupe, corn, green beans, summer squash, native melons, Armenian cucumber and okra.

Plant warm-season color annuals such as cosmos, hollyhock, marigold, salvia, sunflower, zinnia, gaillardia, gomphrena, coreopsis, vinca and gazania.

Watering

Water turf efficiently by soaking 8-10 inches deep to moisten the Bermuda grass root zone.

Bedding plants will need water more often this month.

Transplanting

Transplant herbs such as basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme.

Plant desert-adapted plants this month. The roots readily expand in the heated soil.

Harvesting

The first fig crop starts ripening this month. Fruit matures only on the tree, so keep birds away by covering with netting.

Fertilizing

Feed cacti and succulents during the warm months. Apply a fertilizer formulated specifically for cacti and succulents every month.

Apply fertilizer twice monthly to vegetables. Do not add to dry soil.

Cut back on fertilizing roses to encourage plants to slow down for the summer.

Preparing

Apply pre-emergent to avoid weeds when the monsoons arrive.

Pruning

Prune back mature bougainvillea, lantana and hibiscus to stimulate blooms.

Cut back spring bloomers such as brittle bush, penstemon and salvia.

Prune young trees early in the summer to slow growth and correct structure.

Protecting

Cover vegetables with 50-70 percent shade cloth to reduce temperatures, prevent sunscald and increase blossom set for better fruit production.

Cover citrus trunks to prevent sunburn damage.

Drape plants with netting or shade cloth to protect from birds and insects.

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