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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.


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