Sempervivum forum→I might be in over my head! Help?

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Name: Thea
West Wendover, Nevada (Zone 6b)
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Greenfire
Feb 20, 2020 5:40 PM CST
I'm panicking a little.

I was going to put in a border with some sempervivum in it, eventually adding some other rock garden type plants that do well in full sun, but really wanted to start this year with semps, looking through your database as well as mountain crest gardens convinced me.

But after ordering about 25 of them on the MCG site, I read a bunch of threads on here, and am now worried that my area might NOT be okay for them. Just how bad IS full sun on semps anyway? I picked them because they were supposed to thrive in full sun.... but reading on here, full sun is great if it's not too hot... and uh oh, I'm in the desert, it gets hot here in summer, between 80-95 for highs in June July and August. (we do get snow.... so at least the rest of the year is okay)

Given, I'm not entirely sure how long the area I wanted to put them is actually IN full sun all day. I only moved here in September, and have no idea what it's like in full summer. Am I going to kill these beautiful plants if I end up putting them in full sun in the ground?

I'm really wondering if I'll regret not putting them in pots, should I put them in pots?

(I posted the ones I ordered in my list if you can have a look and know how they do in sun/heat maybe I got lucky? Only one not in the database is "prilly's")

Sorry for the panic, but I went from planning to worrying, and thought I'd check with you guys before I do anything rash!
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
Feb 20, 2020 7:11 PM CST
Welcome! Hello Thea and welcome! Semps are amazing aren't they! I have found that they prefer morning sun with less sun in the afternoons. You are correct they will love your fall/winter and spring temps and conditions. If you plant in pots those are more susceptible to freezing in winter. Maybe plant your semps more in the crevice parts of the rocks rather than on the flatter spaces of the beds?
Also water in the morning (I'm not a morning person so for years people have told me that and it didn't happen, and I do lose some plants!)
Enjoy and I hope you have good luck with them. Oh another thing I thought, being in desert you probably have low humidity in summer - I think the mix of heat and humidity is what really does these plants in I tip my hat to you.

Central CT (Zone 6b)
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JesseInCT
Feb 20, 2020 10:55 PM CST
I live in the same zone although I'm in CT so different climate, but I get 3-4 weeks where temps get above 90 some days. I added about 25 varieties to my raised bed alongside my driveway last spring and had a few begin to wilt on me in August. I got the recommendation here to toss a shade cloth over them on the hottest days and they all bounced back except a few rosettes. I used it on days above 90 degrees. They're tough little plants, I'd plant as you intended and maybe buy a shade cloth for the scorching hot days for areas really exposed. If you find they get any amount of shade they may be ok as is. Best of luck and be sure to let us know how it goes!

We like pictures too!!
Jesse
[Last edited by JesseInCT - Feb 20, 2020 10:58 PM (+)]
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Name: Lynn
Oregon City, 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 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Feb 21, 2020 12:15 AM CST

Moderator

Hi Thea, and welcome to NGA. So glad you found your way here.

@webesemps Let's see if Bev and help with this. She grew semps in similar conditions and did well with them. I do think they will need some kind of protection during the hot part of the day.
Do your evening temps drop pretty quickly on hot days? If so you might water in the evening when things cool down.

And yes to what Jesse said. We would love to see photos of where you will be planting. Have you followed the sun pattern for that area? Will it get some shade, if so what hours?
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Feb 21, 2020 3:12 AM CST
Thea, Welcome! to our group!

My growing conditions in NM had included intense sunshine in the high desert altitude of 7000 ft.

I managed to grow semps outside in sun and snow conditions only because I propped them up high on water barrels and covered them with hinged PVC frame covers lined with shade cloth. They were elevated to prevent critter invasion.
Thumb of 2016-11-29/webesemps/26e56a

That all looks a bit extreme back then but where I live now I still use shade cloth for high temps and I will water the evening before if predicted temps will be anywhere near 90 for the next day.

Your observations in answer to Lynn's questions should help you can get a better idea of your desired planting site's sun exposure. Looks like you are almost 5000 in altitude, that much closer to the sun. In the meantime, your plants can go in into pots that you can gradually acclimate to your area's temperatures and sun exposure. Plant them up and when conditions allow, put them outside for short periods of time in your current sun exposure and gradually move towards longer periods of sun time. Keep an eye on the affect of the day's exposure on your new plants and move the pots around accordingly.

If the potted plants do well in the sun exposure of your desired planting site, then you might consider transplanting them, but be sure to prepare your soil for good drainage and keep a good eye on your newly planted semps' watering needs.

Thea, I looked at your list and noticed a couple of the tufted/ciliated/fuzzy types. In my experience, these do like sun but can do with a little less sun than the others on your list.
Romania, Mures (Zone 6b)
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PaleoTemp
Feb 21, 2020 4:29 AM CST
valleylynn said: Have you followed the sun pattern for that area? Will it get some shade, if so what hours?

Yeap, good way to start planning.


Name: Lynn
Oregon City, 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 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Feb 21, 2020 11:26 AM CST

Moderator

I just went through that process at the new place we will be moving to. So important to know where you sun is during the daylight hours.
Name: Thea
West Wendover, Nevada (Zone 6b)
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Greenfire
Feb 21, 2020 1:37 PM CST
I have been watching what the sun does through fall, winter and this early part of the year, but I'm not sure yet what it'll do in summer. There may be some shade from nearby trees if the house itself doesn't shade it, but the house is on an angle, it just might be in full sun most of the day. Till I see the leaves on the trees to know how much shade they provide, I'm just not confident.

Bev, I moved here from 7200 ft elevation, so I know the sun can be a lot more intense at elevation, but I lived in Laramie Wyoming, and it definitely didn't get hot in the summer. Still dry, but there were a lot of alpine plants in the region that did really well, and you'd see a lot of semp plantings just going crazy! I had some old fashioned noids that were just growing anywhere they could set down. (also the worlds shortest growing season!)

There's a thread on here that talks about how the hotter afternoons with full sun will change the photosynthesis of the plant, and while I didn't expect them to grow all summer long, I also don't want to stress them. (I read like 45 posts yesterday so can't find it, but I think it mentions "SAM" photosynthesis?) IIRC it mentions how many days in sequence over varying temperatures that they can survive, and I'm really hoping that using the shade cloth ideas, I'll be able to mitigate some of that issue.

Anyone recommend any plantings to put with them that can stand full sun but might shade them a little in the dead of summer? Something that will still allow them to be able to show off the rest of the year, and not crowd them out? I already wanted to interplant some of the border with bulbs and irises, along with pinks, iberis, veronica, saxifrage, lavender, thyme and some other low growers to fill in. (I decided against sedums after reading some of the stories on here about them taking over, I'll plant the ones I have in another spot that is on a slope and let them spread en masse.

I may even just get some patio plants to plop down to screen them if anyone knows any that can stand full sun and desert air? I'm already considering canna lilies, for my pots, as I can just pull them yearly and replant the next spring.

This place is really ugly. The whole town, the whole area, has a really austere feel to it, there's a rock formation that when I look at it, I always think it's just a construction site and someone dumped a pile of top soil. It's not, it's probably a mountain.... I'm really trying to work with what I have, as it is, I keep three huge humidifiers going full time in the house to try to keep my indoor plants happy, and can barely get the air to 50%. I'm watering weekly, in winter!

So I really need something here. What's worst is it's a rental, so I can't really do a lot. I can't install irrigation so it has to be something water wise. I know I can do things like adam's needles, opuntia and the like, but I have really never loved these plants... I want something that isn't going to scream "look at all the water that renter is using!" I know it's okay to grow things though, there are people who have patio veg gardens, all in pots! The rocks my husband lined the patio area with, he just found while on walks, he'd bring a pocketful home every day. I'm encouraging him to bring home bigger ones if he can, there's a lot of scrub land around here, and even BLM land so we may end up turning into rock hounds, just to try to make this pretty. I'll snap some pics to share, all the help I can get is appreciated!
Name: Thea
West Wendover, Nevada (Zone 6b)
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Greenfire
Feb 21, 2020 1:52 PM CST
Here's the front of the house from two angles. I know early morning there will be shade, I just don't know how long it'll last, and if the trees will shade it at all in the afternoon. (particularly the one at the end of the patio area I'm hoping.)
Thumb of 2020-02-21/Greenfire/639198
Hubby just put the line of rocks like a straight line, just to edge where he wanted our sitting area to be. I'm definitely interested in reshaping it, and rearranging how we have our patio furniture set up.

There's no gravel in there, no stepping stones, and no walkable ground cover in the middle area, but there will be, even if I just mulch it, right now, it's just dust.
All of the dirt here drains well, almost too quickly. When it does rain, it doesn't last.

The little planter area next to the doorway, had sunflowers growing in it when I moved in. I don't know what we'll put in there yet, but hubby mirrored a bed on the other side of the patio to mimic it. There are irises coming up in the one next to the house, and nothing at all in the other, but I can easily lose both and do a nicer planting, using some of the rocks from them
Thumb of 2020-02-21/Greenfire/fa6068


Here's where I think I'll plant a bunch of sedums to just let them take over. Our place is a townhouse, and this is the view from the bedroom. We never use that door other than to feed the birds, or sit at a table to the right of the steps in the mornings.
Thumb of 2020-02-21/Greenfire/ee1f7a

Central CT (Zone 6b)
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JesseInCT
Feb 21, 2020 2:22 PM CST
I think you're referring to this thread (and CAM photosynthesis), Thea.

The thread "Sempervivum physiology simplified!" in Sempervivum forum

It's a great read and I use the 68 degree threshold to plan which evenings I'll water when it's hot.
Name: Thea
West Wendover, Nevada (Zone 6b)
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Greenfire
Feb 21, 2020 2:31 PM CST
Yes, that's definitely the one! There's a lot of really good info in this forum, yesterday I dug through a lot of it. That one really stuck out to me.
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Feb 21, 2020 5:45 PM CST
Thea,

I'd definitely work on that soil, either getting some well-rotted compost, good potting soil, or even top soil. Work that in with a tiller or spade it through. You want your plants to be raised above the path surface or when it does rain it will be a pond and that extra will be perfect. Get some#2 chick grit to mulch around the plants, which will prevent weeds, stop splash back from rain and lessen watering.

I think given the proximity to the house, you'll do a bit better as it will provide some relief from the sun. You might also intercalate some rocks IN the bed too, to give contrast and set off the semps. A larger rock might shade a semp if placed to the west of the semp.

In a harsh environment I always recommend mostly tectorum types or things derived from them. My line is heavily tectorum with some wulfenii and marmoreum thrown in too. Rolers are pretty tough too, although not as big or showy as some. These things are discussed in more detail in my book.

Kevin

Name: Thea
West Wendover, Nevada (Zone 6b)
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Greenfire
Feb 21, 2020 6:26 PM CST
Kevin, you book is on my wish list!

Yes, I plan to get more rocks, some for in the beds, some for around them. I also plan to do something with the soil, it's just rock and sand, I wouldn't be surprised if it's just fill. It really doesn't pond at all, and water just runs off it, what does get wet dries out quickly.

Do you have a shop for your line? I know some people have mentioned buying some of your hybrids, but I didn't know where to find them specifically. Tectorum and wulfenii are new names to me.

I did make sure to include some heufellii as mentioned in some threads, and from where I ordered, they can take a little roughing. The roller I wanted was sold out, sadly, along with a few others. Probably for the best as I really like mass plantings rather than a thousand different varieties, as it is, right now I think I have 18, and that's probably plenty for this space, as if they do well, they'll fill in nicely in a few years!
Central CT (Zone 6b)
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JesseInCT
Feb 21, 2020 7:57 PM CST
You can search using his name most places. For example here is a link to his plants at MCG. I think Young's has their own tab for his semps.

https://mountaincrestgardens.c...

Def get the book. It's geared toward gardening folk like us and has so many great practical tips and suggestions for tough, beautiful plants.

We're all so lucky to have Kevin post here! Group hug
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, 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 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Feb 21, 2020 8:21 PM CST

Moderator

I agree Jesse, Kevin is the best at teaching all of us about the finer points of semps.
Here you go Thea, the link for Youngs Garden Shop
http://youngsgardenshop.com/

Start small until you get it figured out what will work in your growing conditions. Use a compass to figure out where your East, West, North and South are in relation to your house and yard.
Name: Thea
West Wendover, Nevada (Zone 6b)
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Greenfire
Feb 21, 2020 8:47 PM CST
omg this one.

I must hold back... but omg this one.


Thumb of 2020-02-22/Greenfire/0d0051


okay and yes, I just ordered Kevin's book. I only need a tiny bit of enabling.
[Last edited by Greenfire - Feb 21, 2020 8:51 PM (+)]
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Name: Lynn
Oregon City, 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 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Feb 21, 2020 9:03 PM CST

Moderator

Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
Okay everyone, I think Thea has officially become a sempaholic. Whistling
Thea you should come to the Clinic in April. Kevin will be happy to sign your book.
The thread "CANCELLED Kevin Vaughn Hybridizing Clinic April 24-26, 2020" in Sempervivum forum
Romania, Mures (Zone 6b)
Sedums Sempervivums Region: Europe Roses
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PaleoTemp
Feb 22, 2020 3:21 AM CST
Greenfire said:omg this one.

I must hold back... but omg this one.
Thumb of 2020-02-22/Greenfire/0d0051


I am not a fan of doctored images, increasing contrast and saturation on plants.
But all those on that page are doctored, not that you won't find wave on leaves in certain conditions of spring growth where rain and sun alternate, but well the contrast is too high on their images, like this one also below (a link is better in this case Smiling )

https://i.imgur.com/xi8BVCM.pn...

Central CT (Zone 6b)
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JesseInCT
Feb 22, 2020 5:49 AM CST
Thea is hooked!

Smartphones pretty much all have compass apps. There are apps that tell you sun position and various angles like this one.

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/...
[Last edited by JesseInCT - Feb 22, 2020 5:53 AM (+)]
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Name: Lynn
Oregon City, 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 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Feb 22, 2020 7:57 AM CST

Moderator

Jesse that is way cool. I didn't know there were apps like that.

Paleo, I don't know about that photo from Young's, but I do know we get some pretty spectacular colors in our semps here in the Willamette Valley. I'm sure it has a lot to do with our unique weather conditions.
No photo manipulation on this one. I was so excited when this one developed the watermark, the very first in my collection back in 2012 to have watermarks.

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