after having my chicks and hens for many years they seem to be dying this year. it has been very dry here, could that be the problem?
Without knowing a bit more background, it’s almost impossible to tell. Here are a few things that could be an issue.
Sempervivum (I’m assuming this is what you have but the common name of hens and chicks can also refer to some other related plants) are very hardy, and can go into dormancy when conditions are very challenging (like during an extended drought), to emerge unscathed once the rains come along. I’ve found that they can take considerable dryness, but if the temperatures soar as well, this can be an issue.
As cold hardy plants, they’re happiest in bright light, but not really hot temperatures. If this is their problem, hopefully when the night time temperatures lower, they will perk up.
Resist the urge to shower them with gallons of water when it’s hot, as this can cause more problems than it solves, such as promoting root rot and other diseases.
If you feel you must water, then make it count; a really deep watering after which you allow the soil to dry out almost completely is more beneficial to them than a tease of a really shallow watering.
My collection is fine in areas that they are mulched with lava rock (my favorite mulching material for these drought tolerant plants) or planted in a rock wall. This seems to give them the cool root run that they like best, and also may hold a bit of moisture deep in the soil for the dry times.
Hope this helps get your plants back on track,
How are you using succulents in your Xeriscaping?