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The group of succulents includes hundreds of plant families with their species, with the thorn-armed cacti being probably the best known. In addition, there are also succulent plants, ice plant plants, purslane plants and other families. What they have in common is the ability to store water in their organs and thus survive long periods of drought. Many succulents come from subtropical regions, some are hardy and hardy to frost through adaptation or breeding. We present the most beautiful types to you here.

Hardy succulents

What are hardy succulents?

Succulents come in many shapes and colors, after all the term combines plant families and species that are sometimes very different and not closely related. Most of them are not hardy and overwinter best in a cold house, i. H. frost-free, but bright and cold. During the summer months, these specimens feel very comfortable in a sunny spot in the garden or on the balcony. Hardy succulents, on the other hand, have developed a degree of resilience to cold and frost. They can sometimes withstand temperatures well below zero degrees Celsius and can therefore spend the winter outdoors without any problems.

Why are some succulents hardy?

A special feature of their metabolism makes the hardy succulents insensitive to frost and winter cold. In order to set this in motion, you are allowed to do this from the beginning of September to the beginning of March don't water (And if they are outside, do not let them sprinkle water either). As a result, the plant begins to convert any residual water into sugar. This reduces the water content in the plant cells, which in turn improves winter hardiness: water eventually freezes during frost and destroys the plant cells. But if there is none left, even the strongest frost can no longer harm the plant.


Protect hardy succulents from moisture

For the same reason, the hardy succulents should be protected from moisture, which is often a difficult task in a German winter: Because the cold months in this country are often wet rather than white. So make sure you take care of it in advance

  • a well-drained soil
  • wind-protected, south-facing slope for planted succulents
  • a well drained substrate and good drainage for pot grown succulents
  • protection against moisture with gravel, pumice stone or similar
  • a rain cover

If the drainage works well, the plants survive dry frosts well. This applies in particular to many desert dwellers, who are often used to extreme temperature changes anyway. Even snow usually does not harm, but instead serves as a kind of thermal blanket. However, depending on the amount of snow, it can become a problem when the spring melts as a result of the rising water pressure: Here you should remove the snow before it thaws in order to waterlogging to avoid.

The 5 most beautiful types for rock gardens and balconies

Hardy Ice Plant / Frost Flower (Delosperma)

Most ice plants are not hardy, after all they come from the warm regions of South Africa and other African countries. But some low-growing species are sufficiently frost-hardy to overwinter them outside in the rock garden, for example. Tall-growing ice plants are generally not hardy. Variants that are particularly robust and bloom beautifully in summer are, for example:

  • 'Red Fire': hardy to about minus 20 °C without rain protection
  • 'Indian Summer': hardy without rain protection down to approx. minus 16 to minus 20 °C
  • 'Fire Spinner': hardy to about minus 20 °C without rain protection
  • 'African Queen': with rain protection, hardy to about minus 21 °C
  • 'Golden Nugget': hardy to about minus 20 °C without rain protection
Delosperma "Fire Spinners"

Fat Leaf / Stonecrop (Sedum)

The stonecrop, which is very popular in many gardens, is also known as "stonecrop". There are around 300 different species, most of which are evergreen. Some species shed their leaves before winter and sprout again in spring. Typical of this succulent plant genus is not only its great variety of shapes and colors, but also its resistance to cold.

A common species that is also native to us is the turf-forming Sedum acre. This yellow flowering stonecrop is perfectly adapted to Central European winters and does not need winter protection.

  • 'Minor': forms dense cushions up to 2.5 centimeters high
  • 'Aureum': strong yellow flower cushions
  • 'Yellow Queen': dense, bright yellow flower clusters

Sedum album, the 'white stonecrop', is also widespread in Europe. This loose, lawn-forming species with lush white flowers is also absolutely hardy.

  • 'Bella d'Inferno': pretty light yellow colored shoot tips
  • 'Coral Carpet': forms bronze-red colored carpets with white flowers
  • 'Goldfinger': forms yellowish, dense cushions
  • 'Hillbrandii': brown-red cushions with a particularly large number of white flowers
  • 'Beacon': forms very dense cushions, bright yellow colored shoot tips

Houseleek (Sempervivum)

The houseleek is a native thick-leaf plant, as it can come up with sometimes bizarre leaf shapes and colorful flowers. Frosty temperatures don't bother the hardy plant, but it absolutely has to waterproof location. Around 7000 different varieties of around 40 species are currently known. The following species are particularly hardy:

  • True houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum): particularly large leaf rosettes
  • Mountain houseleek (Sempervivum montanum): forms runners up to ten centimeters long, showy red flowers
  • Dolomite houseleek (Sempervivum dolomiticum): extremely undemanding, pretty red flowers
  • Large-flowered houseleek (Sempervivum grandiflorum): particularly large, yellow or white flowers, hairy leaves
  • Cobweb houseleek (Sempervivum arachnoideum): interesting cobweb-like hairs in summer
Large-flowered houseleek, Sempervivum grandiflorum

Donarsbart / Kugelhauswurz (Jovibarba)

Jovibarba exist under the extremely harsh living conditions of the Alps, but are also common in Central European mountains, in the High Tatras and in the Balkan Mountains. They belong to the Sempervivum, but have some strong differences from them. The bell-shaped flowers, for example, which are usually greenish or white-yellow in colour, are striking. The following species with their varieties are particularly suitable for the local rock garden or balcony box:

Jovibarba heuffelii is native to south-eastern Europe and forms flat rosettes up to 12 cm in size. The flower shoots can grow up to 25 cm high. This species is the only Jovibarba that does not form any foothills.

  • 'Anabela': pretty, green-brown-red colored rosettes
  • 'Big Green': green rosettes with brown leaf tips
  • 'Bloodstone': brown-red colored rosettes
  • 'Cheese Cake': bright yellow rosettes with brown leaf tips
  • 'Lemon Sky': yellow-green rosettes with red leaf tips
  • 'Mystique': particularly dark colored rosettes

These hybrids are crosses of different Jovibarba x species. They often stand out due to their particularly beautiful rosette coloring.

  • 'Feuerrad': obvious cross between Jovibarba hirta x Jovibarba heuffelii
  • 'Foxhollow': very pretty coloring with red leaves and green center
  • 'Ivonne': red leaf tips, green leaves and green center

Hardy opuntias

Also known as prickly pear cacti, opuntias are native to North and South America, with more than half of the approximately 190 different species native to Mexico. Many hardy Opuntias grow shrubby or form a trunk, some form ground-covering mats. Species from temperate climate zones in particular survive cold Central European winters. These include, for example, those native to southern Canada Opuntia fragilis and its hybrids as well as the extremely hardy one from Mexico Opuntia howeyi. These types as well Opuntia polyacantha and Opuntia macrocentra are hardy down to about minus 25 °C, but definitely need rain protection.

Opuntia howeyi

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