Most of us have fallen in love with succulents and have dedicated at least a small portion of our gardens to them. During the winter, especially this one with unusually cold nights, some of our succulents need protection from frosty nights.
Which ones and how to protect them? No worries about the sedums (stonecrops) or sempervivums (our beloved hens and chicks). So we should concern ourselves with the aeoniums, euphorbias, crassulas and kalanchoes. Less likely to be harmed by a few nights below 32 degrees are the agaves, aloes, echeverias and cacti, but a little planning can protect them all.
If there is a frost advisory, it would be wise to cover your succulents with a protective cover: a floating row cover, garden cloth or frost blanket: East Bay Nursery carries ‘Winter Wrapz’ for trees and larger shrubs and ‘Frost Protek', for smaller shrubs and plants; Berkeley Horticultural Nursery carries ‘Nsulate’ cloth. Lacking those products, bedsheets will do. But try to prop them up so they don’t touch the succulents directly and be sure to remove them in the morning.
If you haven’t been able to avoid all frost damage, wait until spring, March 15 is a good bet, to cut back damaged tissue. It may look bad in the short term, but will help protect the plants from further damage.
And, this goes for all frost tender plants: be sure the roots are well watered (not foliage) to protect them from freezing. Wet soil holds heat better than dry soil, thus protecting roots and warming the air near the soil.
If you have further questions and concerns come to our Berkeley Garden Club meeting on Tuesday, January 17, 2017: our speaker, Jeremiah Harper, is the retail manager of Cactus Jungle Nursery and Garden, Berkeley. He will talk about propagating and growing succulents and demonstrate planting a container using them.