Overwintering our non-hardy succulents

by Yvonne on October 15, 2009 · 11 comments

in Container gardening, Plants

Non-winter hardy succulents

Non-winter hardy succulents

- Overwintering non-hardy succulents can be a challenge -

I love growing lots of succulents in containers. They’re easy because they don’t need a lot of watering or fertilizer.

Many of my favorites are non-hardy, and that means if I want to keep them, I have to take them inside over the winter. The hardy hens and chicks (Sempervivum species) are no problem: we keep them in their pots, but move them into our unheated hoophouse to avoid the worst of winter’s freeze thaw cycles.

But you can’t do that with the tender succulents. In past, not wanting to bother with taking cuttings (I’m tired of gardening by this time of year), we’ve taken all the containers into the basement as is. There they would sit out winter under a big mercury vapour light.

The trouble with this method is that they get lank and overgrown stretching toward the light. So this year, I changed my plan of attack.

My cuttings for overwintering

My cuttings for overwintering

Today I took cuttings from the top center of the plants, and then we took all the succulent containers apart, discarding the mother plants. Tonight’s heavy frost will do them in on compost pile.

As for the cuttings, I removed the bottom leaves so that a little stem about half an inch long remains. I’m going to let this callus over for about five days, then stick the cuttings into a gritty potting mix to root in small nursery pots under the big basement light. (We add sand and fine gravel to a regular growing mix.)

Succulents in glazed container

Succulents in glazed container

I’ve tried this in the past with some of the succulents, and we had much nicer plants to start out with for spring.

We have our work cut out for us next week with all those cuttings, but I’ll be glad not to have to do this in spring, when there are so many other jobs on my to-do list.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Eve October 16, 2009 at 7:16 am

This will be a learning curve for me this year Yvonne. There are some succulents here in the ground that I’m sure are suited for the area. I did put some of them in pots and I bought some that I need to research for their hardiness. I have a plastic covered greenhouse here that I’m planning on utilizing for the pots over the winter. I will let you know how that goes.
Great post! Thanks!

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Salix October 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Great post, Yvonne.
I too, love the succulents in pots – and your pots are beautiful. Last year I purchased a large echeveria and at the end of season it had about 15 little babies attached. I did as you, but left the small pots with the plants at a south facing window and they did get very leggy, so this spring I just did the same again and placed them in the greenhouse – wow did they plump up nicely. Just put this year’s planters in the garage and have to prepare for winter soon .
Lene

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Kerry October 16, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Great post and lovely pots. I need to grow more succulents. Thanks for the inspiration and information.

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Sarah from Toronto Gardens October 16, 2009 at 9:50 pm

They already look great waiting for you in your little wooden box. Succulents are so tidy and happy looking. Great info, Yvonne.

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Yvonne Cunnington October 17, 2009 at 9:43 am

Thanks everybody for your comments. Indeed, succulents keep making babies and they are about the easiest plants to propagate. We’ve kept these ones going over a few years now. I love the southwest look of them, and they go well with our collection of agaves that we also overwinter in the basement. They’re all down there now safe and sound.

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commonweeder March 30, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I am hoping to start some easy succulents in the garden this spring, and try to keep them going through the winter. Maybe some will be hardy varieties. I have to do some research. I am looking forward to meeting you in Buffalo this summer. Maybe I can get some more tips.

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Yvonne Cunnington March 31, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Hello Commonweeder: I look forward to meeting you in Buffalo this summer as well and I hope Debra Lee Baldwin will be there too, as she has a terrific new book out about succulents.

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