Growing Pains: safe winter home?

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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: Louise
East Texas, zones 7b/8a
Garden Ideas: Level 1
Sep 20, 2010 9:23 PM CST
The plants I received and planted in July are in 4" pots, cactus soil + perlite and are on a metal plant rack
outside and against an east wall. Are they safe in my zone, which can get down to 10-15 degrees, or
should they be planted in the ground or brought inside?

These learning curves have me a bit baffled because I want each and every one of them to live and not
die!!! Needless to say, our extremely high summer temps and very little rain have killed several. Our
temp today was 98 and will be that high tomorrow also. Very unusual seasons. I bought all the supplies
to make a wreath while waiting for the mail to bring the plants. The supplies are safely stored away for
now - my first lesson with semps!

My favorite past-time is to follow the grower links and see the possibilities that await a healthy patience.
I find myself searching the many yard sales for anything can be used as a semp planter.

Thanks for any advice.

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Sep 21, 2010 9:46 PM CST
Louise, Any of the Sempervivum and Jovibarba that I've run into should be safe down to the temperatures you mentioned. These are outdoor plants that survive to below 0 temps for most of them.

I would, however, put them on the ground unless you are afraid something will eat them or they will get flooded then frozen or stay excessively wet. The ground helps moderate the extremes of temperature and moisture changes. The plants can handle being frozen. During those years where there is no snow cover, you could see some losses due to excessive drying (from winter winds, etc), so if you typically do not get snow cover, you may want to protect from drying winds. Please update this thread and tell me what your winter weather is like. I need to know moisture type and levels, in addition to temperatures. What are the extremes?

Most collectors keep their plants outside, although some do use rain shield or wind shields to protect them. Professional growers will use unheated greenhouses or alpine houses for them.
Name: Louise
East Texas, zones 7b/8a
Garden Ideas: Level 1
Sep 22, 2010 9:56 AM CST
Because my home has a wooded area very close, several small animals visit the yard at night. The
squirrels are a big nuisance by digging any and everywhere. The possums and racoons ate and/or
carried off most of the pears. Most of my plants are in pots because of the amount of very large tree
roots preventing inground beds. I'm considering raised beds with hardware cloth on the bottom to
keep the moles out.

I'm in east Texas but very near the Oklahoma border and catch many of their very strong winds. We
only get few if any snows and they only last a day or so. Our winters get normal rainfall but the spring
is another story with flash floods in April and May. I do have a garden room that I enjoy very much.
The temp in winter there is mostly around 55 degrees, with the bad days at 45 degrees.

I'm determined to give these semps and jovis the best care possible for them to thrive. They are so
colorful and interesting. I'm glad they are hardy for others - and maybe will be for me also.

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Sep 22, 2010 7:14 PM CST
Your winter temperatures are good growing temperatures for the semps and jovis (those temps are considered prime growing temps during out springs here), so I think you will want to give them a chance to grow for you then. Rain and cool temps should not be much of a problem during your winter, but you are likely looking for a location and strategy for the spring floods. As long as the plants are getting some regular rain during the winter, you do not have to worry much about the winds. This becomes a problem when the temps get below freezing and the plants don't get any moisture for a long period of time, not what you are describing. That was my primary concern when I suggest putting the plant pots on the ground

I think that your main concern will be the spring rains and flooding. Semps and jovis can handle a lot of water for brief periods of time, but flooding or sitting in water for any long period of time will likely cause problems.

Very fast draining soil mixes in taller pots will help situations where there is a lot of rain (a wick in the pot that extends out the bottom of the pot will also help), but a rain shield may be a smart move. We all have plant losses from time to time. While it hurts to lose plants, the satisfaction of solving problems and learning to overcome these kinds of challenges is one of the things that makes gardening worthwhile and satisfying.
Name: Louise
East Texas, zones 7b/8a
Garden Ideas: Level 1
Sep 23, 2010 8:56 AM CST
Thanks for the advice. It's better to be able to leave them outside in winter. My garden room was
almost like a jungle last year with all the other plants that had to come inside.

All of mine are green now. I hope some of them turn into the pretty colors that I see in the databases.
Is it the temperature, the amount of sun they receive or their age that causes the colors to happen?
Name: Linda
M'boro, (Middle)TN (Zone 6b)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Sep 23, 2010 9:35 AM CST
Good question Louise....I was wondering the small thing! Thumbs up
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
Sep 23, 2010 11:38 AM CST
The colour changes seem to be related to day length more than anything, but some are also triggered by cooler temperatures at night. Where you are, it may take a bit longer to see them, as your fall weather will arrive later than us northerners!

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Sep 23, 2010 12:17 PM CST
That just means that Louise can supply us with pictures while ours are under the snow!
Name: Louise
East Texas, zones 7b/8a
Garden Ideas: Level 1
Sep 23, 2010 7:02 PM CST
They will have to grow out of the 4" pots into something nicer before they get their picture displayed !!!
I separated all the little chicks from their mommas when the two orders came in and they are just now
growing a respectable root system. I'm looking for nicer containers in which to make arrangements.

My semps and jovis are definitely a work in progress, but a fun one, for sure !

I love seeing the mature plants that are shared in photos here. Definitely incentive to keep going when
some of mine just expire, in spite of my tender loving care.

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