Tips to Protect Sempervivum in Winter

Jan 6th 2013

Tips to Protect Sempervivum in Winter

Well, the cold weather had definitely arrived. Snow. Rain. Ice. All that stuff that we expect in January and the reason we are excited for Spring. While we are all bundled up, keeping warm inside, how are our succulents doing outside?

There are two different scenarios for cold hardy succulents like sempervivum and sedum that are planted outside. They are either in the ground or in pots. Your care for them might change depending on where yours are.

In the Ground
Hens and Chicks are native to exposed rocky, mountain slopes. They can take extremely cold temperatures. Most will do fine even in temperatures that plummet down to -30. If there is a blanket of snow covering the plants, even better! The snow will actually help to insulate the succulents from colder air temperatures and winds.

Snow Blanket

What is actually more likely than cold to cause you plants distress is rain. It all comes back to succulents not liking their roots to soak. One solution that people often use is to cover their plants with plastic during particularly rainy months. Corrugated plastic, clear plastic sheets, anything to keep the rain from soaking the semps. Of course this is only practical if you only have a small patch of plants.

Most of the time, if your plants are in the ground you just let them ride out the winter and expect the best... after all you did plant them in great draining soil, right?

Plants in Pots
A planter full of sempervivum is a horse of a different color... well, maybe not a different color, but a different shade of the same color at least. Soil in planters will heat up and cool more quickly than ground soil. In areas with more harsh winters this means that the plants may appreciate a little extra care. Nothing extreme is needed typically. Here are 5 winter protection ideas for planters with semps (and perennials in general):

  1. Lower raised planters to the ground to help reduce temperature swings.
  2. Move pots close to the house (it's warmer and the eaves will give rain protection).
  3. Make sure the pots get as much southern sun exposure as possible.
  4. Surround pots with straw bales or bags of leaves.
  5. Cover your hens and chick planters with a plant blanket (sold to cover early vegetable crops).

Succulents in Winter

Most of the time your sedum and sempervivum really don't need any extra winter care. The best protection you can give you succulent plants is what you did when you planted them, good soil drainage, good light exposure, and a good inert mulch (plant blanket, plastic, etc).