Sempervivum forum→Winterizing my Semps

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Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
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webesemps
Oct 26, 2020 2:22 PM CST
Covered in bird netting, my potted semps are in flats that are sitting atop plastic crates situated on a balcony deck exposed to morning sun. Though there's not much sun and not much exposure to the cold elements, I still do a little work in helping my semps get through the varying seasons.
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Winterizing 2020:
A few winters ago, after worrying about a few pots that had not survived the previous cold winter, I noticed very damp rotting leaves in some of my pots, After the growing season is over I get pots that begin to look like these and I start to think "ugly brown, dead leaves, soon-to-be soppy leaves, soon-to-be dead semp in the cold," etc.
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It's not much work (though my legs and fingers tell me otherwise) to do a once-over with every pot and tweeze out the dead leaves, check soil level and/or add extra rock underneath the leaves to lift them up from possible wet/frozen soil.

Dead leaves removed; look how many were pulled!
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With the dead leaves taken off (especially the big ones) part of the stem sits exposed above the soil line. Here's where I add more soil and then push rocks underneath the leaves.
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One finished, approximately 175 more pots to go...
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Where I work one flat at a time to check out the pots:
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Different sized Tweezers for pulling off big leaves or little leaves.
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Different size rocks to spread over exposed soil depending on size of pot and space between rosettes:
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I do have to say our winters here have varied, the last one being milder than previous. The above steps are what I do to prepare my potted semps. I think it has helped as more semps have made it thru the last couple of winters.

Question: Are there things other people do to winterize their semps whether they are potted or in ground?

Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Oct 26, 2020 3:15 PM CST
My semps are in the ground, I put netting over them, leave a layer of leaves on them and wait for the snow
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Central CT (Zone 6b)
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JesseInCT
Oct 26, 2020 6:05 PM CST
I've been picking dead leaves and plan on adding some more chicken grit and tucking it under them. I've got a few troughs that don't drain as fast as I'd like and the semps are growing right on top of each other and I am a bit worried about those. I've been thinking about a mini makeshift plastic hoop house but I know I won't have time. I guess just get rid of the dead stuff, top dress and pray.

Great steps and pics Bev. You sure are the best semp mom. Lovey dubby
[Last edited by JesseInCT - Oct 26, 2020 6:07 PM (+)]
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Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Oct 26, 2020 10:33 PM CST
Thanks Jesse! Can you tip the troughs a little to at least get any excess water buildup to drain/drip out? Good luck on whatever you can do to help them get thru the winter.
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Oct 27, 2020 8:15 AM CST
Bev,

You are AMAZING. My poor semps never receive the quality care that yours do. Of course I want my seedlings to be tough ones so NO coddling here!

Kevin
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Oct 27, 2020 9:12 AM CST
Thanks Kevin! That you save the coddling for all that you do and give us semp lovers is what makes you so AMAZING. Love ya! Group hug
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Oct 27, 2020 11:32 AM CST
Well Bev right back at you. I love showing you all the seedling selections as you have such good opinions on things. I tend to gloss over things that you see as special/ unique and I've saved things because of your visits.

I have a couple iris friends who do the same for me in my iris seedlings and a couple Canadians who help me with the daylily selections. Sometime you don't realize what you have.

Kevin
Name: Karen
New Mexico (Zone 8a)
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plantmanager
Oct 27, 2020 12:12 PM CST
It is good to get a number of eyes on new things. I've had art things I've hated, but other people have given me new opinions that changed my mind.
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Central CT (Zone 6b)
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JesseInCT
Oct 28, 2020 6:40 AM CST
Here's a photo of my Green Wheel. I need tweezers to clean this one up. There are rows of dead leaves on all the chicks that are too small to pluck off. The hen's dead leaves I can pluck with my fingers, but this one is a mess overall.
Sad

Some of the chicks just rotted, too. Hoping this one isn't a weakling, because I really like it. I will give it a little TLC and see what it does this winter. Shrug!


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Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Oct 28, 2020 12:54 PM CST
Send it over to me, Jesse...I'll clean the colony. I've been sheltering in so I've got plenty of time...Maybe cheaper to send you tweezers Hilarious!
Happy cleaning!
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
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valleylynn
Oct 28, 2020 1:05 PM CST

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I've been doing some winterizing also Bev. Much easier to do this year, since I only have two beds now. This summers heat and drought did leave a lot of dead leaves to clean up though.
The before and after of 'Andinn Lady Midday' in a 24 foot bed.
Thumb of 2020-10-28/valleylynn/b7422d Thumb of 2020-10-28/valleylynn/0038c2

Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Oct 28, 2020 4:47 PM CST
I can imagine how much work it would take for the entire 2 beds. Good thing not all the semps have a lot of dead leaves. I find the work to be constructive and calming. I even bring the flats (one at a time) indoors and place them on the lazy Susan and do the cleaning late at night. If weather is warmer I do it all outside and l listen to the golfers below exclaim after hitting their ball...
Central CT (Zone 6b)
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JesseInCT
Oct 30, 2020 8:31 AM CST
webesemps said:I can imagine how much work it would take for the entire 2 beds. Good thing not all the semps have a lot of dead leaves. I find the work to be constructive and calming. I even bring the flats (one at a time) indoors and place them on the lazy Susan and do the cleaning late at night. If weather is warmer I do it all outside and l listen to the golfers below exclaim after hitting their ball...


Score another point for planting in pots!
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Oct 30, 2020 3:08 PM CST
Oh Jesse! Hilarious!
No more kneeling!!!
Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
Region: Massachusetts Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Procrastinator Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Foliage Fan
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AntMan01
Oct 31, 2020 4:44 PM CST
Bev, great topic and excellent primer for preparing semps for winter. I was preparing to post along the same line, then I saw your post, so I bow to you and gave some acorns.

Late summer I started doing exactly what you describe, tweezering those that had such thick collars of dead leaves and refilling the stone grit mulch, or those that were too crowded and needed cleanup & replanting for more space. Those that I got done responded well and look terrific.

I decided to try a little experiment, in cases where I have two or more pots full of the same semp cultivar, I would tweezer one, and not the other, and compare how they do over winter. In this photo is 'Silver Song' on the left and 'Urmel' on the right. The pots at the top are showing dead leaves, pots at bottom after tweezering (Note: on 'Urmel' I had already hand-plucked lots of dead leaves that curled inwards and semi-concealed the rosette centers, it bothered me so). The operation on these two cultivars occurred 3 days after some rain, the dead leaves were still terribly soggy wet, so I'm still of the opinion thick soggy collars of dead leaves in a wet winter climate is a liability and not an asset.
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I use #2 chicken grit to feed my hens & chicks :-)
Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
Region: Massachusetts Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Procrastinator Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Foliage Fan
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AntMan01
Oct 31, 2020 5:09 PM CST
JesseInCT said:Here's a photo of my Green Wheel. I need tweezers to clean this one up. There are rows of dead leaves on all the chicks that are too small to pluck off. The hen's dead leaves I can pluck with my fingers, but this one is a mess overall.
Sad

Some of the chicks just rotted, too. Hoping this one isn't a weakling, because I really like it. I will give it a little TLC and see what it does this winter. Shrug!

Thumb of 2020-10-28/JesseInCT/a03f92



Jesse, I'm going out on a limb and suggest that your plant of 'Green Wheel' might be a mis-ID. The plant shown has open rosettes, with low to moderate leaf-density, and much longer stolons. My 'Green Wheel' has extremely tight rosettes with super high leaf density, leaves much more incurled vs. reflexing outwards, and extremely short stolons so the chicks tightly nestle against mother hen. Mine are very neat and require no tweezering. Just got 5" of heavy wet snow, and 20F night temperature as winter decided to drop in early, so I can't show current photos unless the snow melts, but in spring I'm happy to send some rosettes for you to compare. If the snow does melt, I'll post some updated photos of 'Green Wheel'
Avatar: Jovibarba x nixonii 'Jowan'
I use #2 chicken grit to feed my hens & chicks :-)
Central CT (Zone 6b)
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JesseInCT
Nov 1, 2020 10:27 AM CST
Here it was in June, Mark. I got this from Lynn a few years ago so I doubt it's wrong, but you never know. Looking back on it, it really declined this summer. 🤷🏼‍♂️


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[Last edited by JesseInCT - Nov 1, 2020 10:29 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
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valleylynn
Nov 1, 2020 11:34 AM CST

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I can see how different they look now Mark and Jesse. Mine have remained with the tight compact form and I never had to remove dead leaves after it formed the tight colony. It is a very distinctive semp for size, color, for and growth habit. Your June photo looks great Jesse. Hope deep is the gravel, what is the soil like under the gravel? Does it retain lots of water in that area?
Central CT (Zone 6b)
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JesseInCT
Nov 1, 2020 8:07 PM CST
valleylynn said:I can see how different they look now Mark and Jesse. Mine have remained with the tight compact form and I never had to remove dead leaves after it formed the tight colony. It is a very distinctive semp for size, color, for and growth habit. Your June photo looks great Jesse. Hope deep is the gravel, what is the soil like under the gravel? Does it retain lots of water in that area?


This is planted in my bed along my driveway. It's slightly sloped, but I will check to see if this one is in a low spot. It's the only semp that rotted on me this year so I would bet that is it. My native soil is a sandy loam with very little clay and drains fast. Lots of grit for top dressing. I'll probably clean it up as best I can tomorrow and add more grit. Investigate if it's sunken down a bit more where that one is planted. With the slope, it may be at the lower end of some runoff. I'm glad to hear it's a sturdy plant! It inspires me to try to save it and adjust it's conditions in the spring.

[Last edited by JesseInCT - Nov 1, 2020 8:09 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
Nov 2, 2020 7:50 AM CST

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I suspect there is some kind of water problem, as we get so much rain here and I have never had rot in my 'Green Wheel', and it is planted in one of the cement block holes, tightly packed. Hope it pulls out of it's funk and does well for you Jesse.

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