Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum: Over-wintering hens and chicks in NW PA

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Name: Don
Meadville, PA - Crawford Co. - (Zone 5a)
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DonfromPA
Nov 11, 2017 8:41 AM CST
I'm a newbie at growing hens and chicks, but I have a nice plastic pot with several hens and chicks. Winter is fast approaching here in NW PA (first light snowfall yesterday with temperatures in the 20's overnight.) I have an unheated garage. Can I keep them in the garage or should I bring them into our warm house (my wife is always cold, so it's quite warm inside.)? I don't want to lose these plants. Welcome everyone's advice.
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Name: kathy
Michigan
Zone 4b, near St. Clair MI
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katesflowers
Nov 11, 2017 8:28 PM CST
Hi Don
I have my hens/chicks in crockery pots, wire wreaths that are soil and moss filled, chicken wire baskets, or just growing in the ground. They all stay outside in the winter. I place each of the different variety of container on the ground next to the house, out of direct weather.
Come spring they perk up with the warm weather, and continue growing. They do not die back.
hope this helps you make a decision.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Nov 11, 2017 8:35 PM CST
It all depends upon whether your Hens & Chicks are winter hardy. Some are and some aren't as this is a common name for several different succulent plants (and a few plants that aren't even succulents like Spider Plants).

If you don't know the scientific name for your plant, please post a couple photos so we can help.
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Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Nov 11, 2017 8:59 PM CST
Kathy,
Do you put netting over them to keep the squirrels from eating them
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Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Greenhouse Sempervivums Bromeliad
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plantmanager
Nov 12, 2017 11:14 AM CST
I'm a newbie at semps, but do love them. I think Kathy had a good answer for you. Leave them outside but in a more protected area like under the eaves of the house. They don't do well indoors and would be happier outside. They seem to laugh at cold weather. Weather seems to make them color up better, too. We'd love to see some pics of your semps. Good luck!
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Name: Tim Stoehr
Canby, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Butterflies Sempervivums Region: Pacific Northwest Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents Sedums
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tcstoehr
Nov 12, 2017 12:13 PM CST
Semps seem very happy spending the winter under a thick blanket of snow, as they often do in their native ranges.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Greenhouse Sempervivums Bromeliad
Adeniums Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tropicals Xeriscape Garden Art Plumerias
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plantmanager
Nov 12, 2017 12:36 PM CST
That's good to know, Tim. This will be the first year for my semps to experience snow.
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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
Nov 12, 2017 5:24 PM CST
DaisyI said: It all depends upon whether your Hens & Chicks are winter hardy. Some are and some aren't as this is a common name for several different succulent plants (and a few plants that aren't even succulents like Spider Plants).

If you don't know the scientific name for your plant, please post a couple photos so we can help.


Daisy a great point, we can't assume we know what plants someone is speaking of when they say "hens and chicks" Thumbs up

Name: Tim Stoehr
Canby, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Butterflies Sempervivums Region: Pacific Northwest Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents Sedums
Bee Lover Region: Oregon Dragonflies Keeper of Poultry Cat Lover Composter
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tcstoehr
Nov 12, 2017 6:14 PM CST
Good point, we should make sure these are actual Sempervivums and not Echeverias or something else.
Don ( @DonfromPA ), are you sure they are Sempervivums? If you're not sure, posting a quick photo here would clear things up.
Name: Don
Meadville, PA - Crawford Co. - (Zone 5a)
Love of gardening grows on you!
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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DonfromPA
Nov 13, 2017 6:27 AM CST
Yes, I'm certain that they are sempervivums. Thanks for all you guys' and gals' responses. Just checked with my daughter from whom I got my start with these plants last spring and she said she leaves hers outside all winter - so I will too. Will put the plant behind my knock-out rose bushes next to the house for a little added protection from the strong winds we get here in winter. Thanks again for your help.
The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies - Gertrude Jekyll
Name: Tiffany Wreathfresh™
Puget Sound, WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums
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LivingWreaths
Nov 13, 2017 11:24 AM CST
DonfromPA said:I'm a newbie at growing hens and chicks, but I have a nice plastic pot with several hens and chicks. Winter is fast approaching here in NW PA (first light snowfall yesterday with temperatures in the 20's overnight.) I have an unheated garage. Can I keep them in the garage or should I bring them into our warm house (my wife is always cold, so it's quite warm inside.)? I don't want to lose these plants. Welcome everyone's advice.


Hi Don, in the winter time I've done all of the above with my Semps: Outside in pots; Outside in ground; In the cold windowless garage (with $7.00 plant flood light from hardware store), inside by SW exposure window...They've all survived with tiny bits of 'tweaking.'

IN ORDER OF LEAST AMOUNT OF MAINTENANCE REQ'D
1) In ground with rocky/well-draining bed (espec. if you get rain AND you have clay soil like in PNW)
2) Outside in pots next to house, importantly, under an eave/porch so YOU (not M.Nature) has control of watering)--TO PROTECT THE POTS FROM BREAKING (more likely than semps dying from dry cold or snow)
3) In ground in a soggy bed, no matter if snowy or rainy (you'll have to dig them up, eventually and take life saving, time consuming, annoying measures-as they will begin to rot, at the same rate as your compulsion to save them increases)
4) In house in SW window...they dont do much(go quasi-dormant) but they stay alive w/light H2O
5) In garage in pots--have to supplement with plant flood lights daily, or watch weather daily and do annoying task of pulling all the pots in and out of garage at any hint of sunshine or fear of H2O (solid or liquid). Ugh!!!

Why even choose #5, you ask? Mostly to protect a pot! D'Oh!

Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Bookworm Region: Colorado Garden Procrastinator Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Nov 15, 2017 1:59 PM CST
I am going to jump on this thread to ask a "preparing for winter" question.

My semp are all in pots and this is a question that has been in my mind since I started trying to grow them.

I have heavy leaf fall and am wondering if I should leave the leaf mulch in place or clean them out as I have done in past years (not sure if this is why I have lost most of my semps in the past.)

My concern is if I leave it the snow and rain could make the pot soggy. If I remove it, the plants are exposed to the winter winds and temperature variations.

Thanks for your advice in advance I tip my hat to you.
Name: Tim Stoehr
Canby, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Butterflies Sempervivums Region: Pacific Northwest Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents Sedums
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tcstoehr
Nov 15, 2017 2:11 PM CST
I would remove any leaves that fall on my semp pots. I would think it would promote excessive moisture, fungus and rot.
Can you put them where they are covered with snow? Even in pots I think snow is a good winter cover and protection from those harsh winds.
Name: Tiffany Wreathfresh™
Puget Sound, WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums
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LivingWreaths
Nov 15, 2017 3:08 PM CST
Hi Marilyn @CDsSister
,

Very good question!
Get rid of leaves? YES!
I agree with Tim @tcstoehr, but with add'l info: Leaves in my pots get blown in from my neighbor's trees Who Don't Spray for insects. That means any pots I don't clear out the leaves harbor weevils, aphids, mites...etc... your pots now become 5-star overwintering hotels for these garden jerks. ;)🐛+🐌+🌱=😠

I have an embarrassing number of pots, and here's how I 'triage: '

First, Do you have any of the following:
a porch; or covered porch; or side yard up against house (even better if close to a dryer vent) ; a rolly-cart-thingy (its little-known technical name--see pic), some old blankets that used to be your bedspread in college; old sheets-similar origin; holiday blow molds; inexpensive plant lights (see other pics); a space in garage for rolly-cart-thingy, like in-between vehicles; old throw rugs; wooden crates normally used for plant display?

This list may look silly but, What do these items all have in common? they all PROVIDE AN EXTRA BIT OF WARMTH your pots may need for the winter.

1) if a pot is breakable via water freezing and Cooling, move it to the garage. if you have space for the rolly-cart-thingy put it on the rolly-cart-thingy and attach some clamp plant lights at various spots to give them some light. on sunny days move rolly-cart-thingy outside.
2) others, remove all debris, stop watering, and use one of the above to insulate on the coldest days. You can put throw rugs below them, cuddle them all in a corner on the porch, & on the coldest nights throw a blanket over the top and plug in a holiday blow mold next to them to give them some added Heat. Use the wooden crates to place the pots inside. Then use newspaper or the many phone books that get thrown on your porch, bubble wrap, whatever, to pack underneath and around your pots inside the crate. Then huddle them on the porch next to your other pots and the blow molds ( who doesn't love blow molds? Right?). Use your side yard in much the same manner, with the pots huddled next to the house. you can place them near, BUT DO NOT BLOCK OR COVER, your dryer vent.


Thumb of 2017-11-15/LivingWreaths/beb572
"Rolly-cart-thingy" ready for winter action!
Thumb of 2017-11-15/LivingWreaths/5264a7
Flip me over, and line with newspaper, place pots inside, and huddle!
Thumb of 2017-11-15/LivingWreaths/7168c1
I am famous for my stick figure drawings & storyboards as you can tell from this gorgeous blow mold I've drawn into the photo. The baker's rack in the corner goes bye-bye, and I bet you can see some of the plants/planters that will be moving inside soon (hello, 'wandering jew')

Thumb of 2017-11-15/LivingWreaths/9e38eb
use with a metal clamp light fixture
[Last edited by LivingWreaths - Nov 15, 2017 3:23 PM (+)]
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Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Bookworm Region: Colorado Garden Procrastinator Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Nov 15, 2017 7:01 PM CST
@tcstoehr Tim, yes I can put them where they will get some snow, but in Colorado we have wild temp changes so it can snow one day and be in the 50+ the next day, even some 60-70s on the odd winter day. but then we also get drying winds and the snow is gone usually within 24 hours.

Those are great tips Wendy. Not too workable for me except the snuggling the pots up with old sheets etc on my patio. Nothing but a bit of overhang where I can put them. No electricity out there.

Thanks for the help, I tip my hat to you.


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
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valleylynn
Nov 17, 2017 5:00 PM CST

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Marilyn, yes, remove all leaf debris. Then add lots of chicken grit. as a mulch. it will actually help retain moisture during the drying wind episodes. And snuggling up against the house works also.
Can you still contact picklepuff (Sandi) for further ideas? I know she used to grow here even in the ground.
Name: Brian
NW Pennsylvania (Zone 5b)
Bigtrout
Nov 19, 2017 7:55 AM CST
DonfromPA, im in NW PA as well, first year overwintering semps in pots as well, im going to keep them under my covered porch on the edges so Mother Nature can water them occasionally with windblown rain and snow, but they wont get direct downpours or get too windblown. That being said with all the cold rain we have had, the semps that are planted in the ground on my bank have perked up tremendously since the weather has gotten colder.

So im going to let Nature do its thing and if she culls some semps, then they werent hardy enough for a NW PA winter anyways!
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Nov 19, 2017 8:40 AM CST
Garden Quilt is a good easily move-able cover. Although I don't use it on semps here in relatively mild OR, I do use it to cover pots of seedlings of irises and other perennials that germinate in the fall and need some protection and also in spring when a hard frost is predicted if I have seedlings up in the pot. The Garden Quilt does let light come through and will keep them frost-free down to 23F. If you have lots of pots that you could cluster this would be a good strategy. Make sure you really weigh down the quilt with rocks or the quilt will be elsewhere fast. Several of mine I'm sure are in Kansas by now when I underestimated the winds here in OR.

In MA, we got down to -32F and the only semp I ever lost was 'Commander Hay' (and I lost it every year until I gave up on it!). I never covered any of them unless they were covered by oak leaves accidentally. Oak leaves don't pack too hard and I never removed them. Of course we had a pretty consistent snow cover. The piles of snow at the end of my folks' driveway would often get over 10' high. You see why I didn't retire there!

Kevin

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