Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Cold hardy succulents ~ please share your experiences?

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Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Dec 12, 2012 6:56 AM CST
This time of year our thoughts turn to how hardy these succulents will be.

I've read different comments here from some who are leaving their plants out to harden them and I am curious to hear their results in their zone.

Two years ago I planted a succulent bed with some hardier succulents and some excess plants that are not known to be hardy.

From reading, it is recommended to leave them as dry as possible in winter so this bed is planted under the eaves of the greenhouse.

Last winter was milder and all was well in the succulent bed. The test will be these three nights of temps in the twenties.

Photos taken before the freeze.


Large unknown Aloe Thumb of 2012-12-12/pod/a501ec



Another unknown Aloe whose leaf edges turn red in the cold. Thumb of 2012-12-12/pod/7b141e Thumb of 2012-12-12/pod/6eb767

The real test will be this medicinal Aloe.
Thumb of 2012-12-12/pod/07331b



I have other cold hardy succulents in this bed but the Aloes will be tested in this recent cold.
I will report back in a few days to post how these survived.

In my experience:
They need to be gradually acclimated to the cold. In other words, don't just set them out on a cold night.
They need to be dry as more moisture will make them more prone to freezing.
They do not need fresh, lush growth which will be more tender.

Please post your experiences ~ both successes and failures so I can also learn from them (hopefully)!!!
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Dec 12, 2012 12:41 PM CST
My medicinal aloe (A. vera) is outside because I no longer have room to bring them in. They are under the carport and have been just fine down to about 27° a few nights. Last night was several degrees colder than that so we'll see. Mine are large so hopefully if the big ones die, the babies will be sheltered enough to make it and I can separate them soon. Glare
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Dec 12, 2012 7:01 PM CST
All right! I'm glad to know I'm not alone with this. Thank you for responding. Are your aloes sitting on concrete or ground?

I think I saw Tarev post a few different comments regarding hardening her succulents to the cold also.

I know there are different factors like the ground temps as well as the length of time it stays below freezing also but I will be curious to hear of which succulents are more cold hardy.



Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
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gg5
Dec 12, 2012 7:33 PM CST
Kristi, I had a kalanchoe outside and it lasted for a full year (making me think it was going to be fine) the 2nd winter though was colder (below freezing for several days/nights in a row) and it didn't make it through that. I do think that many succulents can deal with cold snaps so long as they don't last too long, also I had my plants in full sun, against a cement wall, and I know that helped.
Good luck
Greg
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Dec 12, 2012 8:14 PM CST
Ahhh, yes! The radiant heat from the wall would help. I would imagine a rock mulch around plants in the ground would help too.

Good point on the length of the freezing temperatures.

I won't sacrifice only plants but if I have duplicates I don't mind experimenting. I shall have to add some of my Kalanchoe extras next year. Thanks for the suggestion and sharing your experience too. I wonder if covering them with a frost cloth would have made any difference.

Another one I am trying in this bed this year is a white foxtail Agave and so far so good.

Tonight is projected to see 23 degrees. Ugh!!! Reminding myself we are one day closer to springtime.
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
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webesemps
Dec 12, 2012 8:39 PM CST
I'm a firm believer in frost cloth or any other covering that might do the job. I've never had real cold hardy succulents but the "minimum of 50 degrees" plants that I own are outside covered with their cloths (shade cloth and N-sulate cloth) and I'm hoping that the nites of upper 30's temps don't do them in. So far, so good. I am in California now but when I was in high altitude desert, these 50 degree plants were inside a pumice concrete building.

I'm also more of a container gardener and someone recommended that if I was planting a new plant, that I should line the pot with trash bags (but leave the bottom and drainage hole uncovered) before putting in the soil. Tried it with a couple of pots and the plants survived thru a winter on an elevated open deck in Spokane, WA.
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Dec 12, 2012 9:00 PM CST
That is interesting Bev. What purpose would the plastic liner serve in the container, I wonder?

I've heard of using double pots with an insulated barrier. Also heard of using a styro liner to insulate the roots in a container.
I do believe container plants have a more vulnerable root system susceptible to hard freezes.

Tell me, do you find the shade cloth works as well as frost cloth? I have only limited experience with frost cloth but am finding it works better than plain old sheets.

Even in different zones, lessons can be learned if I will only listen. Thanks for the input.
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
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gg5
Dec 12, 2012 10:37 PM CST
This is interesting information!! Thanks
Thumbs up
Greg
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
Name: Mark Mallon
seattle wa
Region: United States of America Region: Pacific Northwest Region: Southwest Gardening
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a2b1c3
Dec 12, 2012 11:19 PM CST
you can always put a mason jar over small succulents just make sure there is a hole or its not sealed to the ground.
DON'T PANIC
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
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gg5
Dec 12, 2012 11:33 PM CST
Good idea Mark Smiling
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Dec 13, 2012 12:53 AM CST
Kristi, not sure exactly what frost cloth is, but my shade cloth works for me in that it keeps to a certain degree the cold air and dampness off my succulents. It is also lighter than bed sheets (don't want any heaviness to break any of my stiff succulent leaves off their stems) but heavy enough to stay on my plants when there's wind. N-sulate cloth is much lighter so it can blow off the plants if it is windy and can be handy if I don't have anything else to use.

I think the trash bags (readily available in any household) would be serving as xtra liner/barrier within the container to the cold for the potted plants.

When it comes to caring for those "special" succulents that I am attached to, there's no overdoing it for me. I take whatever precautions I have the energy to do. And sometimes, old habits don't die. *Blush*
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Dec 13, 2012 4:58 AM CST
Well, I had a longer post that went into the cloud somewhere. Anyway, it's down to the mid-20's again right now. This are the A. veras last year and you can see how they are situated ... they are about twice the size now ... and heavy. Most everything else in in the garage.






The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Dec 13, 2012 6:15 AM CST
Mark ~ good idea on the mason jar, rather like a cloche . In this zone, we would have to be very careful to remove it on sunny days or the plant would be toasted. lol

Bev ~ I think the frost cloth is probably similar to your N-sulate cloth. It is far lighter weight than the shadecloth I have. Almost like a pellon fabric.

For me, I'd be afraid a plastic liner on the succulent pots would allow them to remain too moist in this zone.

Tee ~ don't you hate when that happens. Seems my laptop is far more sensitive and eats what I type all too often. Wish I could retrieve it many times. You get far, far colder there so I am curious, have you ever lost any succulents in that sheltered area?

Does anyone here withhold water in winter for their outdoor succulents? Or protect them from rains?
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Dec 13, 2012 6:54 AM CST
I both withhold water and protect from rains. The only succulent I've lost so far out there is an agave. I can see that it's going. But that's okay. It isn't something I want to bother with hauling in and out. So be it. I've cut and trimmed it before and it came back. But I think this climate is really way too cold for it. Shrug!
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Dec 13, 2012 2:31 PM CST
I also withhold water but some of my succulents in small pots do need a little water during the winter. It's a Catch 22 with the protection of succulents with my cloths; If there's been rain, the cloth gets heavy and wet and if I don't get to removing them to dry out, the sheets can freeze on a colder nite while laying on top of the plants. So it's a diligent chore to mind my sheets when the weather changes from cold to warmer (when possible rain) and back to colder....
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Dec 14, 2012 12:05 AM CST
From what I have seen with my succulents outdoors, that cold and wet mix really hurts them, but the moment they get a chance to dry out at least a full day, it helps them recover well. They can endure for awhile being wet and cold, but it takes its toll. The only thing that gives me hope when I see them very sullen looking is seeing any hint of green in them. As long as I see one part still green, that plant will fight. And some comeback good, I think the damaged parts somehow seals off further damage to the plant in some way, I just have to wait till weather is much warmer before I start repotting and all. Using smaller containers works well, so the plants can dry out faster. If I have a nice space or awning, I would put them there during winter, but since that is not the case..I just let them endure as much as they can.


A sample of my ever resilient succulent: Crassula ovata gollum: very bad cold and wet damage, almost 90% of leaves had turned black and dropping off, tips very red and stressed but I see some green parts:
Photo taken Feb 2012:
Thumb of 2012-12-14/tarev/841d25

Repotted it in late spring and moved closer to the house, comes back quite good, this is its photo taken September 2012
Thumb of 2012-12-14/tarev/d1fc0b


Aeonium arboreum is very cold hardy here. It is really lovely making its stressed out color changes, and looks like a different plant during seasonal changes. Never had a problem with it, rain or shine, hot or cold.
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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gg5
Dec 14, 2012 12:43 AM CST
Wow how amazing that it didn't die!
Smiling
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Dec 14, 2012 6:17 AM CST
Tee ~ do you think your Agave may sucker and put up new plantlets as a means of survival? Hope so, unless you don't care for it much.

Bev ~ I chuckled at the visual image of you out there changing the wet sheets and doing laundry for the plants. Something only a gardener would do... or understand!

Tarev ~ that is a good thought on a smaller container drying out faster. I would have only thought of using a fast draining growing media.

And you mentioned
I think the damaged parts somehow seals off further damage to the plant in some way
and in my experience, I believe you are entirely correct. I will take it a step further. I have found on some of my Stapeliads, that when the stems are damaged I leave them on the plant to harden and dry totally. When it has cured, you can easily twist it off the plant. If there is resistance, I leave it on. That allows the stem under the damaged foliage to dry and seal itself off. In this manner, it prevents rotting or disease.

Thanks for showing those photos.

That reminds me of a couple plants I left out last winter in this bed. They aren't truly succulent but tender. Euphorbia ~ Crown of Thorns. They had grown huge. I was amazed to see the red bloomer was more frost hardy and the yellow was more sensitive. And even more surprised to see it acted like pruning by sealing the stems and then when the growth season began, it sprouted back out. I'll see if I can find those pictures.

I think a lot of succulents are tolerant as long as the roots haven't been damaged by freezing. In small pots, how do you keep that from happening?

I have been searching through my saved links looking for lists of cold hardy succulent plants. Has anyone seen anything like that?
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
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Dutchlady1
Dec 14, 2012 7:27 AM CST
Go to the Sedum/Sempervivum forum!
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Dec 14, 2012 7:03 PM CST
Dutchlady1 said:Go to the Sedum/Sempervivum forum!


I'm sorry... did I post this in the wrong forum? I'll ask to have it moved if necessary.

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