Growing Pains: Soil Mixture

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Growing Pains

By valleylynn
January 1, 2010

A plant clinic for Sempervivum, Jovibarba and J. heuffelii. This is a companion article for the Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum.

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Name: Linda
M'boro, (Middle)TN (Zone 6b)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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LuvNature
Aug 27, 2010 3:19 PM CST
Hello All ~

I'm new to the forum, but I have fell in love with sedum. Is there a special soil mix that works best for sedum plants?

My Autumn Joy is planted in my garden and has been for many years. I've shared it, split it into new places, and it does great. The ones I have some problems with is the smaller varieties and I really love all the small sedums.

I recently purchased one that has drove me nuts trying to plant it. It is Sedum hispanicum 'Purple Form' . It is so delicate and falls apart if I touch it. Any suggestions on how to handle this would be greatly appreciated.

I'm thrilled to have found this forum. It's the only one I've found that discusses something other than cactus.

Linda Hurray!
Name: BlueFox
Grand Forks, B.C. Cdn. Zone 5A (Zone 4a)
Romantic & Rustic, Xeric & Organic
Charter ATP Member Sedums Sempervivums Region: Canadian Garden Art Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Cactus and Succulents Butterflies I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Xeriscape Garden Ideas: Level 1
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BlueFox
Aug 27, 2010 3:35 PM CST
Hi Linda,
Welcome aboard!

I for one would love to see a pic of your delicate Sedum hispanicum 'Purple Form' - I have 'Blue Carpet' and one that looks identical called hispanicum var. polypetalum. I agree they are delicate, and seem to do best with extremely sharp drainage. Even in perfect conditions they tend to have die back issues.

For soil, there is a lot of information here on the forums, but in general, extra large sand/small gravel added to the native soil provides the good drainage they need.
Name: Linda
M'boro, (Middle)TN (Zone 6b)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Image
LuvNature
Aug 27, 2010 5:08 PM CST
This is the best I can do for now. Hope you can see it okay.

Thumb of 2010-08-27/Flimsy/9672e9
Name: Linda
M'boro, (Middle)TN (Zone 6b)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Image
LuvNature
Aug 27, 2010 5:09 PM CST
Here's some that I mixed in a pot with other sedum.

Thumb of 2010-08-27/Flimsy/ad4025
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 27, 2010 8:33 PM CST
Wonderful container of healthy looking sedum Flimsy. We are so happy you found us. All of us love to share our different experiences in growing sedum and semps. BlueFox's advice is what I do here at my place.
I too have the purple form of S. hispanicum. It is such a sweet little plant. Twit made a great suggestion on another thread here that I know BlueFox does also. Plant it in several places in differing conditions, then observe which does best in your part of the country. I know that this plant can have winter die back (dormant) in some areas, but should come back if drainage is good. For me I have found that it needs some protection for our hot, dry summer weather, so I give it bright light, but not direct sun. Here is a picture of my S. hispanicum 'Blue Carpet'. I can't seem to find a picture of my 'Purple Form'. Hmmmm Confused
Thumb of 2010-08-28/valleylynn/3ab063

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
twitcher
Aug 28, 2010 12:36 AM CST
Flim (is there a Flam?) - Welcome!

I have Sedum hispanicum (plain - blooms white) and also the Purple Form. I'm afraid I've not paid attention to soil concerns with this one. For me, it grows like a weed in pots where I have some of my small fruit trees growing. When weeding the pot and I pull some up, I just toss it back or into another pot. I don't usually even bother with planting it. This one is very forgiving.

So it gets my basic pot mix, which is similar to Al's mix advocated in the Container Cubit(you may want to take a look at that). Basically quality potting soil with pine bark, vermiculite, perlite, and/or fired-Fuller's Earth mixed in. The mix varies a lot based on what is available at the time, but always has the potting soil and the pine bark as the basis.

Regarding growing conditions, because they are in the small fruit tree pots, they get regular water and are shaded a bit from the harsh sun by the tree above them.

I hope this helps.

-t
Name: Linda
M'boro, (Middle)TN (Zone 6b)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Image
LuvNature
Aug 28, 2010 12:00 PM CST
Thanks so much to both of you for your help. It's good to know it grows easily. I purchased it online and when I opened the box, it fell apart everywhere. I tried sticking each tiny piece in the soil and that's what drove me nuts...lol. So, maybe I was overly concerned about this one. I just started collecting sedum this spring and now I look everywhere for it.

My neighbors decided to throw away their 3 tier concret fountain that they could never get to work right. I said "Noooooooo, I want it for planters!" That's when I started my sedum collection. I'll post a pic of it sometime. The sedum hasn't grown as well as I would like, but we've had a very hot summer and I think that's part of the problem. It's not in full sun all day, but the heat index here has been up to 113 degrees for several days. Grumbling

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
twitcher
Aug 28, 2010 3:59 PM CST
The Dr. compels me to mention that the "heat index" is a calculation that attempts to measure the impact of the temperature and the humidity on a human being. Thus the "heat index" indicates how hot it seems to people. Please be assured that your sedums, sempervivum and jovibarba don't react to the heat index the same way we do.

I've long felt that the hen & chicks, at least, are dew harvesters. When the humidity is high, and you get a nighttime temperature drop, there is the potential for the plants to "self-water" in small amounts by collecting the dew that condenses on the leaves and directing it down to the crown and roots.

The direct heat from the sun, i.e., solar heating, is probably more significant to your sedum's plight than the actual heat index We should all remember that plants in direct contact with the ground will be more resilient to problems with heat (or cold). The ground functions as a buffer, remaining cooler during hot times and releasing heat during cool times. Damp concrete also works in a similar way, by evaporating moisture contained in the concrete, it will conduct heat away from the plants (cooling them) as it evaporates. Thus, you can keep your plants in the fountain cooler by keeping the concrete damp. For example, keeping the fountain itself in a tray that could be filled with water or similar strategies would help. Filling one of the tiers with water, instead of plants, would be another strategy.
Name: BlueFox
Grand Forks, B.C. Cdn. Zone 5A (Zone 4a)
Romantic & Rustic, Xeric & Organic
Charter ATP Member Sedums Sempervivums Region: Canadian Garden Art Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Cactus and Succulents Butterflies I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Xeriscape Garden Ideas: Level 1
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BlueFox
Aug 28, 2010 4:21 PM CST
Pics, please! Hurray!
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Aug 28, 2010 5:31 PM CST
Wow three tiers. Can't wait to see pictures Flimsy. Thumbs up
Name: Linda
M'boro, (Middle)TN (Zone 6b)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Image
LuvNature
Aug 28, 2010 7:52 PM CST
t.....that is so true and I never thought about cooling down the concrete. Thanks for the good information. I've been afraid I would over water them, but lately, I've watered them more and they're doing much better. I later realized too, that the soil I used could have been much better. This was my first try at a sedum/rock garden, so live and learn. I did put rock in the very bottom of the containers before putting any soil in them. I've been reading everything on here and I wish I had all the great information before I attempted my little garden.

lynn.....you're 'Blue carpet' is gorgeous!

Here's some pic's of it about 2 weeks after I planted everything. I need to take some more. The largest one had some 'Red Carpet' and 'sedum pachyclados', which I think I've lost this summer.

Thumb of 2010-08-29/Flimsy/dd5f2e
Thumb of 2010-08-29/Flimsy/5d7e11
Thumb of 2010-08-29/Flimsy/e9135d
Thumb of 2010-08-29/Flimsy/582acb

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
twitcher
Aug 28, 2010 10:24 PM CST
Linda, Those look so nice, I'm sorry to hear that they aren't doing well. From your description, I thought that they were all a single unit. It should be possible to set them in some kind of waterproof container that could be filled with gravel (for decoration) that could be flooded during the really hot times. (next year, if these are too heavy now that they are filled) Of course, you might end up having to treat the gravel/water filled containers for algae down the road.

Lowes locally sells a selection of black , heavy-duty plastic, designed for water gardens and fountains, that could be used for such a purpose. I bought a couple several years ago to sit my EE collection in, so that I could always have their pots in water. They have come in very handy, as I also use them for mixing potting soil and other things.

By using water to cool the concrete, I was not implying watering the plants more. However, that is an option if they are drying out too fast. I was thinking more along the lines of setting the concrete in water or spraying down the outside during hot periods of time.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 29, 2010 1:27 PM CST
They are beautiful Linda. So glad to know your name now. Thumbs up You did a great job of plant combinations for color and textures. Those are going to be even more beautiful as they fill in. Keep up the great work. Thumbs up
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Seller of Garden Stuff I sent a postcard to Randy! Sempervivums Sedums Region: Wisconsin Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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goldfinch4
Aug 30, 2010 6:52 AM CST
Very nice Linda! They sure look like they're doing good in those pictures.
Cubits Store: The Sempervivum Patch - plants, containers, accessories!
Also stop by Timber Treasures and Garden Buddies on Cubits
Name: Linda
M'boro, (Middle)TN (Zone 6b)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Image
LuvNature
Aug 30, 2010 9:00 AM CST
Thank you for the compliments. Hurray! It being my first try at this, I am proud of it. *Blush*

t...I started giving it more water before you told me about wetting the concrete down. I'll do that from now on. Our night temps at one point were only dropping to the med 80's, so it stayed very warm at night too.

springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Aug 30, 2010 8:49 PM CST
what will happen to them come winter?

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
twitcher
Aug 30, 2010 10:01 PM CST
Frilly, Sempervivum and Jovibarba should be totally hardy outside in TN. If the temps stay above freezing, there will be some modest growth. Below freezing, they go dormant.

This spring, we had lots of snow cover that melted a bit early. I had many semps in pots still partially covered in snow, obviously coloring up and growing before the snow fully melted. It was a real pleasure to see this, since it told me that spring was coming after a very difficult winter. I hope that answers your question.

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