Herb: Houseleek

Latin name: Sempervivum tectorum

Family: Crassulaceae (Stonecrop Family)

Medicinal use of Houseleek:

Houseleek leaves and their juice are used for their cooling and astringent effect, being applied externally to soothe many skin conditions. As with many other remedies that are both astringent and soothing, houseleek simultaneously tightens and softens the skin. The fresh leaves are astringent, diuretic, odontalgic, refrigerant and vulnerary. They are used as a poultice in much the same way as Aloe vera in the treatment of a wide range of skin diseases, burns, scalds, bites and stings etc and have also been used to get rid of warts and corns. The plant is also sometimes used internally in the treatment of shingles, skin complaints and haemorrhoids, though some care is required since in excess the plant is emetic and purgative. The leaves are harvested as required and used fresh.

Description of the plant:


15 cm
(6 inches)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Roofs, old walls, chimneys and rocks, especially on limestone.

Edible parts of Houseleek:

Young leaves and shoots - raw. They can be eaten in salads. The juice of the leaves is used as a refreshing drink.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - surface sow in early spring in a cold frame. It usually germinates in 2 - 6 weeks at 10C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer if they have made sufficient growth, otherwise grow them on for a further year in pots before planting them out. Division of offsets in spring or early summer. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer. Plants can also be divided in September but these divisions should be overwintered in a greenhouse. Stem cuttings.

Cultivation of Houseleek:

Roofs, old walls, chimneys and rocks, especially on limestone.

Known hazards of Sempervivum tectorum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.