- Caring for Succulents in Winter
- Succulents 101
- Size and Placement
- Planting/Potting Soils
- GARDEN DOCTORS: Succulents that can survive freeze
- Knowing the hardiness of your succulent
- Other factors affecting hardiness
- Some protective measure tender succulents
- Winter hardy succulents
- Create a Cold Hardy Succulent Garden
- Zone 3 Hardy Succulents – Tips On Growing Succulent Plants In Zone 3
- Hardy Outdoor Succulents
- Best Succulent Plants in Zone 3
- Marginal Cold Hardy Succulents
Caring for Succulents in Winter
Caring for succulents in winter doesn’t have to keep you guessing! In this post you’ll learn how to properly care for your succulents indoors over the winter, along with some tips for your outdoor succulent garden.
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Based on where you live and the types of succulents you are growing, your succulents may not be able to stay outside year round.
If you do have tender succulents (those that can’t handle freezing climates) and live in a climate with snow or many nights of freezing temperatures, you’ll need to bring your succulents inside in order for them to survive.
Aloe variety, Cotyledon tomentosa, Crassula perforata, Sedum nussbaumerianum, Echeveria ‘Blue Rose’ | Purchase Options
When should I bring my succulents inside for winter?
This is largely determined, again, by where you live and what you’re growing. As a general rule, you’ll want to bring your succulents in before the first frost. For many people in the US this is at the end of September.
Of course, if you are growing cold hardy succulents, they can stay outside all winter.
It’s important to know what growing zone you live in. At the least you should know the average low temperature for your area. For example: when I lived in Utah we were a Zone 5. Most of the succulents I owned at the time were for Zone 9.
All succulents rated higher than Zone 5 can’t survive the cold, and need to be indoors for the winter.
Since I currently live in the Phoenix area, a Zone 9, most of my succulents are fine outdoors year round. There are only a few succulents rated to a Zone 10 or 11 that will need to spend the winter inside.
Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’, Aloe variety
So, start by identifying your succulents. Then determine what growing zone you are in. See how the two compare! Bring in any plants that are rated higher than where you live.
This video will also help you determine if your succulents need to be brought indoors for the winter:
Moving Outdoor Succulents Inside
While you may be growing succulents inside all year round, succulents will benefit from being outside for at least part of the summer. Here’s a check list to make sure the move from outside to inside goes as smoothly as possible:
Since it can be a hassle to water succulents indoors (bringing them all to the sink, waiting for them to stop dripping, etc.) water them one last time outside.
Try watering them 2-3 days before bringing them inside. This allows them to soak up the water they need and start to dry out. Then your shelf or table stays nice and dry once the succulents are inside.
Well Draining Soil
You’ll also want to make sure (if they aren’t already) that your succulents are in a well draining soil in a pot with a drainage hole. Succulents grown indoors will do much better if they have the right soil and container.
If you don’t want to mix your own succulent soil, I’ve been using this succulent soil mix from Bonsai Jack and love it! It’s the same recipe I used to make myself, but now I don’t have to slave away for hours making it. Your succulents will definitely thank you for putting them in the right soil.
Prep the Pot for Inside
When you are finally ready to bring your succulents inside, you’ll want to make sure the pot is ready. It’s a good idea to wipe off the outside of the pot to remove any dirt, leaves or cobwebs that have become attached to the pot.
Also be sure to remove any debris, such as dead leaves, from around or between your succulents. Dead organic material can easily cause your succulents to rot or become infected.
I love my mini tool kit to help with this process! Once you’ve removed anything that doesn’t belong, you can also add in or replace the top dressing to help the arrangement look extra cleaned up.
Check for Bugs
You don’t want any visitors when you move your succulents inside. Inspect your succulents closely for signs of mealybugs, the most common succulent pest.
Also look for any other little bugs around your plants. I know at my house ants and potato bugs love to hang out in my pots. I see spiders frequently as well.
Try to remove these little guys as much as possible to keep your succulents healthier indoors.
Refresh the arrangement
As your succulent grows it’s going to start shedding leaves. It’s always a good idea to keep your succulents well pruned and maintained. This is especially important before bringing succulents in for the winter.
Use your fingers or the tweezers from the mini garden tool kit to remove as many of the dead leaves as possible. This will help prevent your succulent from rotting indoors.
Crested Echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’
If any of your succulents have died over the summer, now is a great time to fill in the holes. The arrangement below stayed looking great over the summer, except for one monocarpic succulent. After it bloomed, it left a big hole.
I filled in the hole with a few succulent cuttings and it looks complete again! I also added some top dressing since it didn’t have any.
Aloe variety, Cotyledon tomentosa, Crassula perforata, Sempervivum ‘Green Wheel’, Sedum nussbaumerianum, Echeveria ‘Blue Rose’. Graptosedum ‘Alpenglow’ | Purchase Options
Winter Watering for Succulents
Now that your succulents are inside, it’s time to start taking care of them!
Many succulents are dormant in the winter so they won’t need as much water. However, some are actively growing and will need more attention.
I have an entire post on dormancy that includes a list of which succulents are winter growers and which are summer growers. to read it and determine if your succulents are actively growing or dormant in winter.
You can also check out this post if you need help identifying your succulents.
If your succulents are winter growers they will likely need more frequent watering. My Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ (a winter grower) always seems to be a water hog over the winter.
As a general rule though, you’ll only want to water your plants when the soil is completely dry. Let them go several days, even a week or two between watering.
Your succulent will tell you when it needs water. If you’re not sure what that looks like, be sure to and grab our free cheat sheet, Signs Your Succulents Need Water.
The airflow indoors is more limited than outside so without the proper soil it’s very likely your succulents will stay wet for too long. Watering too frequently is the quickest way to kill your succulent.
Keep in mind that succulents near a heating vent might need more frequent watering. The direct air and warmer temperatures can dry things out more quickly.
Crassula arborescens undulatifolia, Haworthia reinwardtii, Sedum clavatum | Purchase Options
Plenty of Sunlight
One of the most difficult things about growing succulents indoors, especially over the winter, is making sure they get enough sunlight.
You’ll want to place your succulents near the brightest window in your home. The ideal window will get bright, indirect sunlight all day.
Since the winter days are shorter this is especially important. Succulents need at least 8 hours of bright indirect sunlight each day to maintain their shape indoors.
With lots of gray or cloudy days in the winter you may find your succulents begin to stretch out or lean toward the window. This is a sign they aren’t getting enough light.
In this case, you can rotate your succulents to help offset any leaning. But in order to prevent stretching you will need to supplement with a grow light.
Make sure you don’t run the lights 24/7 as succulents do need dark at night to complete their regular growth cycle.
For succulents that do get stretched out or grow tall and leggy, at the end of the winter you can cut off the tops and propagate them! Then you’ll have even more plants for the summer!
Since most succulents aren’t growing as quickly over the winter, this is best done in the spring. For more details on how to do this, you can check out my post on stretching succulents here.
Succulents are an invaluable plant, especially for us Southern Californians, because they are beautiful and nearly indestructible. Succulents are water-retaining and are adapted to arid climates and soil conditions. High temperatures and low precipitation have forced these plants to store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. This adaptive mechanism has resulted in an incredible variety of different leaf forms and plant shapes.
Some of the best known succulents are cacti, which are a unique subgroup that has evolved into many different species. The Succulent family also includes some well known plants such as aloe and agave. No matter which variety of succulent you are growing, however, their requirements are very similar:
Size and Placement
Place the largest most dramatic first and the smaller ones around them. Remember many succulents can’t be cut to a lower height after they have grown. When placing plants think about how tall the plant will get in the location.
Why are some succulents smaller and more expensive than the larger succulents?
the smaller varieties generally grow slower than the faster growing varieties thus they are often older.
Succulents can handle the cold as well as the heat. Just like the desert which can have cold nights, a succulent can live in temperatures down to even 40 degrees F.
Succulents prefer light such as in the open garden or in a south-facing window. Some species will scorch if exposed to direct sunlight and the leaves will change to a brown or white as the tissues are destroyed. Watch the leaves as an indication of if the sun exposure is correct. A succulent without enough light, however, will begin to stretch with an elongated stem. If this happens, provide better light and prune your succulent back to its original shape.
Succulents will need more water in the summer and during establishment. Water generously but allow the soil to dry in-between watering. This is why good drainage is important. In winter, the plant will go dormant so water it every other month. If you over-water you could cause plant rot. The succulent may look healthy at first during over-watering, but eventually will die as the rot has begun in the roots and isn’t showing above ground yet.
Over-watered succulents will look discolored and soft—yellow or white with loss of color. Remove it from the pot and look for rotted roots. Rotted roots should be cut off, then replant your succulent in a drier area.
Under-watered succulents will stop growing and shed leaves or generate brown spots on their leaves.
Your succulents should be planted in a soil that provides for good drainage. Succulents will benefit from an inorganic agent like Perlite which will help aeration and drainage.
Fertilize during summer growing season but stop entirely during the winter.
GARDEN DOCTORS: Succulents that can survive freeze
Howard writes: This latest cold snap has caused my new succulents (that I planted last summer in containers) to become literally mush!
The temperatures in areas of my garden where the succulents were located got down to 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
My questions are: Are there any succulents that can tolerate colder temperatures? What can I do in the future to protect the plants from freeze damage? Also, can you suggest any additional growing tips that would be helpful? I am not ready to give up on the “succulent challenge” (my description) this soon.
I had a discussion with Charolett Baron, a knowledgeable succulent and cacti hobbyist, and asked her how her succulent collection has fared during our unusually low temperatures.
Also, she shared some of her hard-learned succulent growing experiences when she too lost some favorite specimens during a previous cycle of hard-freezing temperatures.
Here are some of her recommendations for selecting succulents that are more tolerant of cold temperatures and what she does to protect her succulent and cacti collection:
She has found that the yucca, ‘Wall Bright Star’ is hardy to 0 degrees and the agave, ‘After Glow’ is more cold tolerant. Baron found these specimens at Cottage Gardens in Petaluma.
Variegated specimens seem to be less hardy. Euphorbias do not tolerate frost. Container plants are more sensitive to lower temperatures even though they are considered hardy to, say, 30 degrees.
Crassula sarcocaulis is cold tolerant to 10 degrees. Sempervivums, commonly referred to as hens and chicks, tolerate cold temperatures. Sedums, also known as stonecrops, come through the cold temps with no apparent damage.
Baron recommends covering ALL your succulents with frost-protectant material that breathes and allows moisture and sunlight to penetrate.
Lightweight sheets draped over the plant during the cold temperatures also work well but need to be removed during the day.
Move the containers under eaves or other protected areas. Hold back on the water until the weather warms up.
If you have a mini-greenhouse or something larger, run some low-voltage lights for additional warmth and continue to lightly cover the pots with frost protectant material, also called floating row covers, until no longer needed.
Lastly, her own succulents have survived because she covered those in containers, those planted in the ground and even those in her greenhouse.
In my own garden, the sedums, sempervivums, Orostachys, Senecio mandraliscae, Crassula cocinea ‘Campfire’, Rhodiela and Aloe nobilis were not damaged when the temperatures went down to 28 degrees.
When purchasing succulents, read the plant label and it will usually tell you the cold-hardiness of the plant. Within a particular genus, some may be hardier than others.
The number of days of low temperatures will also affect the hardiness as well as a prolonged rainy period such as we experienced.
Those readers living in a warmer microclimate will have success growing the slightly more tender succulent varieties.
Interestingly enough, visiting neighbors in your area that have experienced little to no plant frost damage will also help you determine what succulents will thrive in your own garden.
A terrific reference book for all succulent enthusiasts is “Succulent Container Gardens, Design Eye-Catching Displays with 350 Easy-Care Plants” by Debra Lee Baldwin.
This book answers a multitude of questions covering cultural requirement of succulents, individual plant hardiness and enticing container arrangements using color, texture and size that complement each container.
Cynthia asks, what are the physical characteristics of a yucca compared to an agave?
Yuccas are 2 to 3 feet tall, mounding succulents with spiky foliage that have stringy hairs along their edges. They bear flowers on stalks in early or mid-summer.
Agaves also have a clumping growth habit; their leaves are about 18 inches long and 3 inches wide with sharp spiny tips. Agaves, also known as century plants, rarely produce flowers, but when they do they are on stalks that reach several feet above the foliage clump.
Both of the plants are cold tolerant.
Jess S. writes: Is it OK to graft a citrus onto a camellia? Don’t want to remove the camellia’s root system if it isn’t necessary.
No. The camellia and the citrus are not compatible.
(Send your gardening questions to The Garden Doctors at [email protected] The Garden Doctors can answer questions only through their column, which appears twice a month in the newspaper and online at pressdemocrat.com.)
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Winter is officially here in Northern California. Experienced succulent gardeners are busy working in their garden to winterizing their plants. Frost and cold weather can cause fatal damage to some of the tender succulents. It doesn’t matter how seasoned you are growing succulents, you can’t avoid winter casualties. But after reading this post, you should have an idea how to protect succulents during winter without too much effort.
Knowing the hardiness of your succulent
It may sound painful to memorizing the hardiness of your succulents, but it’s not if you are a follower of our Instagram account. We have a growing list of a Succulent Infographics updated almost daily to explain care, ID and propagation methods. You can get exactly how much sunlight and water are required and how hardy is your succulent in one picture.
However, if you are looking for simple solutions, here are a few tips for you.
- Succulents such as Agave, Cacti and the Aizoaceae family (Lithops most commonly) usually require very little to no water in winters (often referred to as summer growers). Excess moisture can be dangerous to them. Cacti and Lithops need to stay indoors if the temperature goes below 41°F or 5°C.
- Most other common succulents like the Crassulaceae Family (includes Echeveria, Aeonium, Sedum, Kalanchoe and Sempervivum etc.), the Asteraceae Family and Haworthias are usually referred to as the winter growers. For this group, maintain regular water schedule if you have a frost-free climate and as much sunlight exposure as possible.
- To look closer to the winter growers, some are much hardier than others. Sempervivums and Orostachys are the hardiest succulents, most of them can tolerate temperature as low as -30°F. They can survive even when buried under the snow for an extended period.
- Most Sedums are very hardy as well, but not all. Light frost should not do any harm to them.
- Echeveria and its hybrids such as Graptoveria can tolerate light frost if they are healthy and planted for at least six months, otherwise bring indoors for safety.
- Aeoniums, Cotyledons and Kalanchoes are not hardy and you should bring them inside as soon as the temperature gets close to freezing.
Sempervivum can survive freezing temperature Orostachys is very hardy similar to Sempervivum
Other factors affecting hardiness
If you read my Succulent fall care post, you may remember how to prepare your succulent for winter.
- No fertilizer during late fall and winter since new growth are prone to frost damage.
- Remove spent flowers and dry leaves that attract pests with your hand or a long tweezer. Pest damage can be deadly during succulent dormancy. Use organic neem oil spray to treat early stages pest, cut and discard heavily infested plant.
- Reduce or stop watering to discourage new growth and induce dormancy. Water only when the soil is dry to the touch and water lightly to prevent the roots from drying out.
- Mulching or top dressing with lava rocks can help protect the roots from freezing.
- Some tender succulents such as most Echeverias may become mild-frost tolerant if they are grown in-ground or in a large pot for a long period. Other frost tender succulents that are repotted or planted less than six months should be brought indoors for safety.
Some protective measure tender succulents
Build a low tunnel for your outdoor succulents for less than $50
- Buy a few ½- ¾ inch diameter 10 feet long PVC pipe and some precut rebar of about 2 feet from your local hardware store.
- Stick the rebar into the ground.
- Cut the PVC pipe to length to fit the height of your succulents then bend the pipe and fit the rebar inside the pipes.
- Cover the PVC tunnel with frost blankets. Then secure the blankets to the pipes with some snap clamps and both ends with bricks.
- You may also use larger diameter PVC pipes to replace the rebars except fit the bent PVC pipe inside the larger PVC.
Low tunnel for frost protection
Use grow lights indoors to prevent elongation
Some young succulent plants (such as Lithops seedlings, newly propagated Echeveria leaves and cuttings) must be brought inside if you have a temperature below 41°F or 5°C. These young plants with insufficient lighting and warm indoor temperature may stretch out to the lighting source for photosynthesis, causing the plant to elongate. Elongation weakens a succulent and is not reversible.
Therefore, I like to use grow light or fluorescent lighting to supplement indoor lighting for at least equal length to natural daylight. Hang the lights at least two feet above the plants and do not over water them is key. And I use a one-gallon Sprayer bottle to water indoor plants as it can provide even coverage and it’s easier to control than your regular watering can.
Move your succulents outdoors in frost free days
Natural sunlight is always the best for plant growth. Cherish the sunny days in winter and bring them outside. If you have too many succulents, use a utility cart can make it a lot easier.
Treat succulents with frost damage
Some succulents with mild frost damage, see below, can be self-heal if gradually introduced to warmer environments. If the stem of succulent became soft due to frost, it’s likely too late. However, you can try put it in a warm area and cut off the damaged stem.
Sedum clavatum with early frost damage
Most succulents are dormant during winter to protect themselves, which doesn’t mean we can sit back and do nothing. Plants during dormancy are prone to pests and cold damage. Clean up dead leaves regularly especially those compactly arranged ones. When the weather warms up, and pests become more active, you know it is worth your effort. And don’t be afraid to move them in and out, take that as the best exercise for gardeners. Winter for succulents is all about protection so that they can shine again in spring.
You might associate succulents with balmy climes, tumbleweed, and arid desert landscapes, so you might be surprised to discover that some succulents thrive in cooler climates. There’s a surprisingly wide array of hardy succulents that can survive and thrive in cold weather, so there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the exotic, almost alien attraction of these tiny-leaved plants in any garden, regardless of your native climate.
Cold hardy succulents can survive frost and snow without damage to the plant – pretty impressive for a plant with such a significant water content.
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We’ve compiled a list of winter-hardy succulents that can survive in warmer climates, but they’re far more suited to areas that don’t enjoy tropical heat all year round. Our list is ideal for anyone living in the cooler regions of the planet, such as the chilly mountain ranges of Canada, the schizophrenically temperate UK, and the frequently frosty Scandinavian zones.
The succulents featured in this article mainly fall into the xeriscape category of growers – plants that require little to no additional irrigation other than that which the natural environment provides.
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Winter hardy succulents
There are two principal varieties of succulents that will tolerate the temperature when it drops down to freezing – Semperviviums and Stonecrop Sedums. Most of these varieties will handle temperatures as low as -20ºF and won’t mind the occasional hot spell!
Here’s our list of cold hardy succulents:
Sedum Spectabile “Autumn Joy”
By Zefram (Self-photographed) , via Wikimedia CommonsSedum Spectabile “Autumn Joy” is a xeriscape plant that grows natively in North America, but is happy when exposed to cold conditions in other parts of the world. The leaves are lime green, with a prominent central vein. The tiny flowers contrast beautifully in shades of pink against the vivid foliage. This flowering succulent produces tiny flowers that grow in tight bunches – a little like loose florets of broccoli.
Natively, the Autumn Joy grows happily alongside other garden perennials, such as Rudbeckia, and looks particularly striking amongst ornamental grasses.
The climate dictates the shade of the flowers, which range from a delicate pale pink, through to the deepest hue of salmon.
If you are interested in growing your own Autum Joy, you can see Amazon’s selection here.
Photo credit: Ephemeral Impressions on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA
Sempervivum, perhaps, has been given a bad rap in the past – associated mostly with the type of garden that your grandma might have enjoyed. However, there’s been a real renaissance of interest in these cute little cauliflower-like hens and chicks, so called because of the spreading behavior of this very pretty, exotic plant.
They add a great texture to any flower bed, and have the slightly alien and mathematical look of organic fractals. They grow in a wide variety of sizes, and the same plant can spread profusely with totally unique looking blooms that provide attractive, textural ground cover. They sit exceptionally comfortably in rockeries or present real textural interest on a green roof.
There is a range of Sempervivum available on Amazon.
Sedum Spurium “Dragon’s Blood”
By Rob Hille (Own work) , via Wikimedia CommonsSedum spurium “Dragon’s Blood” is a real staple of the rockery garden. It copes extremely well in cold weather and has a magnetic attraction to butterflies and other insects that pollinate; the Dragon’s Blood is an excellent addition to a garden full of fruit plants and trees.
These tough, robust plants spread widely, producing beautifully-formed ornate flowers that are characteristically tiny. Sedum spurium requires no intervention from the gardener and copes well in full sun, in well-drained soil. In fact, it prefers poor, gravelly earth, a little like an orchid. For a xeriscape garden, the Dragon’s Blood brings a stunning spread of pink blossom that brightens up a dry, forgotten corner of the garden.
Want a little Dragon’s Blood to brighten your day? Get them here.
By brewbooks , via Wikimedia CommonsJovibarba has the succulence and spikiness of a cactus, but with the resemblance of the beautiful bulb produced by a globe artichoke. They’re thoroughly robust and survive in extreme cold, during extended drought, through periods of blazing heat, and in poor soil conditions.
They won’t cope with waterlogged soil, however – as long as their chosen spot drains quickly, the jolly Jovibarba will set up camp and stay for the long stretch.
What’s particularly fascinating about the Jovibarba is that it will find its own space if it doesn’t enjoy the spot you give it – it will produce a clutch of chicks that spread and roll away from the host plant in an effort to form a new colony in more hospital soil.
There’s a wide range of genetic variety with this particular cold hardy succulent – it interbreeds willingly, adding a beautiful array of greens and pinks to wherever they decide to settle.
If you are after an extremely hardy succulent, then take a look at the selection on Amazon now.
Sedum Telephium “Purple Emperor”
By Jerzy Opioła (Own work) Sedum telephium “Purple Emperor” has more than a fleeting resemblance to purple-sprouting broccoli. I wouldn’t eat it, though, however tempting it might look. The flower heads grow in tight bunches of tiny buds that spring into cerise flower when the time is right.
The Purple Emperor is often chosen for its interesting color – a lovely contrast to the typically green-leafed type of succulent family. This is a tall border stonecrop, with majestic blooms that lift a darkened posterior edge of a flower bed, making plenty of space for smaller plants to comfortably find a home up front.
Once again, you can find these hard to kill plants on Amazon.
By S Molteno (Own work) , via Wikimedia CommonsJovibarba heuffelii is similar in appearance to the more conventional Jovibarba we’ve already featured but has a more open globe with slightly more prominent spikes at the tip of each leaf. The colors are more attractive than that of its distant cousin, offering a broad spectrum of pale greens, yellows, bronzes, and pinks.
This is one of those plants that is literally impossible to kill; as long as it’s not forced to sit in soggy ground.
This super-hardy specimen will grow during the harshest extremes of weather. It will appear to shrink down to almost nothing when faced with drought but will re-inflate perfectly once it’s had its first drink of the season. The challenge is in trying to kill this super-hardy succulent. Ideal for literally any garden, and particularly suitable for areas that experience long, hard winters.
If you are are the sort of person who seems to have a “black thumb”, then try this. Available here.
Sedum Reflexum “Angelina”
Sedum reflexum “Angelina” has the furry look of a fern, with profuse green stems that produce almost sponge-like fronds that transform, chameleon-like, from pale green to golden hues throughout the year.
A keen spreader, the Angelina provides a lovely break from the deeper greens and greys often associated with xeriscape gardening. It will flower, but reluctantly; so don’t expect a regular burst of bloom with this particular succulent.
It will contribute a beautiful bronze aura to your garden during cold snaps, transforming itself through to golden orange or lime green when warmer.
Capable of enduring extremes of temperature, with a color response to match each one, this is one of those succulents that provide excellent floor coverage with a surprising array of continually changing tonal hues.
Available on Amazon.
Looking to grow a garden indoors during winter? Check out our guide on an amazing product called the Aerogarden.
Photo credit: Skolnik Collection on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND
The Orostachys is, perhaps, one of the most unusual-looking of all the succulents – resembling a spikey, half-globe crown that stretches up from stony ground.
This can be a tricky plant to add to an established garden as its much pickier than the other succulents featured in this article.
It can be a slow grower if the position isn’t exactly right. However, once you’ve found the right spot, this extremely hardy succulent will survive the cold and drought, and won’t mind the occasional covering of snow.
Create a Cold Hardy Succulent Garden
So, there you have it – eight wonderful, hardy succulents that you can introduce to your garden and leave them to nature.
One of the most attractive aspects of establishing these hardy plants to your garden is the fact that they require barely any attention and will flourish regardless; painting your garden in pretty splashes of color whatever the weather.
Zone 3 Hardy Succulents – Tips On Growing Succulent Plants In Zone 3
Succulents are a group of plants with special adaptations and includes cactus. Many gardeners think of succulents as desert plants, but they are remarkably versatile plants and can acclimatize to many different regions. Surprisingly, these xeriscape darlings may also thrive in wet regions like the Pacific Northwest and even cold places such as zone 3 regions. There are several zone 3 hardy succulents that can withstand winter temperatures and excess precipitation. Even zone 4 plants may thrive in a lower region if they are in a protected area and freezing durations are brief and not deep.
Hardy Outdoor Succulents
Succulents are endlessly fascinating due to their broad range of form, color and texture. Their unfussy nature also makes them a gardener favorite and adds an interesting touch to the landscape even in non-desert zones. Succulents may be hardy in United States zones 3 to 11. The cold tolerant forms, or zone 3 hardy succulents, benefit from a full sun location with some shelter from wind and thick mulch to preserve moisture and protect roots.
There are a lot of hardy outdoor succulents, such as yucca and ice plant, but only a couple that can withstand temperatures of -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 to -40 C.). These are the average low temperatures in the zone 3 regions and include ice, snow, sleet and other damaging weather phenomena.
Many succulents are shallow rooting, which means their root system can easily be damaged by trapped water turning into ice. Succulents for cold climates must be in well-draining soil in order to prevent ice crystals from damaging root cells. A thick layer of organic or non-organic mulch can act as a blanket over the root zone to protect this crucial area of plant growth.
Alternatively, the plants can be installed in containers and moved to an area that doesn’t freeze, such as the garage, during cold snaps.
Best Succulent Plants in Zone 3
Some of the best cold hardy succulents are Sempervivum and Sedum.
Hens and chicks are an example of Sempervivum. These are perfect succulents for cold climates, as they can handle temperatures down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. They spread by producing offsets or “chicks” and can easily be divided to create more plants.
Stonecrop is an upright version of Sedum. This plant has three seasons of interest with attractive blue-green rosettes and vertical golden yellow clusters of tiny blooms that become unique dried flowers lasting well into fall.
There are many varieties of both Sedum and Sempervivum, some of which are ground covers and others with vertical interest. Jovibarba hirta plants are lesser known succulents in zone 3. These are a low rosette forming, rosy pink and green leaved cactus.
Marginal Cold Hardy Succulents
Some species of succulent that are hardy to USDA zone 4 can also withstand zone 3 temperatures if they are in some protection. Plant these in sheltered areas, such as around rock walls or the foundation. Use larger trees and vertical structures to produce microclimates that may not experience the full brunt of winter as forcefully.
Yucca glauca and Y. baccata are zone 4 plants that can survive many zone 3 winter experiences if they are babied. If temperatures dip below -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-28 C.), simply place blankets or burlap over the plants at night, removing them during the day, to protect plants.
Other succulents for cold climates might be hardy ice plants. Delosperma produce lovely little flowers and have a low, ground cover nature. Pieces broke off of the plant readily root and produce more of the delicate succulents.
Many other succulents can be grown in containers and moved indoors to overwinter, expanding your options without sacrificing prized specimens.