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It sounds tempting to cultivate exotics in the garden all year round. Even when there is ice and snow, the plants spread a tropical atmosphere that brightens the mood on gray and cloudy days. There are some perennial plants that are considered hardy and can spend the winter outdoors. Depending on the needs, winter protection should still be taken into account, as this increases the probability of survival. It's not just icy temperatures that cause stress in winter.

Hardy exotics

The hardiness of a plant describes its robustness against prolonged frost. Up to certain air temperatures, some exotic species are able to survive in frosty climate regions. If winter protection is nevertheless recommended, this should protect against other environmental influences during the cold season. Wind loads, frost or extreme temperature fluctuations can endanger the parts of the plant above ground, while waterlogging or drought affect the root system. Cold-sensitive plants can also be planted in frostier regions if the microclimate is adjusted accordingly. The chance of survival of such plants is greatly increased if they are protected from the cold east and north winds. Hedges and house walls increase the temperature at the site considerably.

Suitable winter protection

Plant parts above ground are more endangered than the root system because they are unprotected from the icy winds. Evergreen plants also evaporate water in winter and therefore need protection so that the ground does not freeze over and the roots can constantly absorb water. A thick layer of brushwood, straw and leaves protects the soil from freezing. This measure is also recommended for young plants and shallow roots. In strong sunlight you should shade the leaves. Water evergreen plants on frost-free days. However, this does not apply to succulents, because they are overwintered dry and need protection against moisture in the form of a rain cover.

succulents

With their water-storing plant parts, these plants not only stand out in rock gardens, but also in Mediterranean beds or in tubs. Bizarre leaf shapes and unusual flowers make these exotic plants popular ornamental plants. Many succulents come from regions where severe night frosts are normal. Depending on the species, appropriate winter protection is necessary. Otherwise, the plants are extremely easy to care for, but are sensitive to waterlogging. Ideal plant partners are the hardy Carthusian carnations or wild thyme.

tip: Since succulents convert residual water into sugar in winter, it is important to protect them from moisture.

Real houseleek

  • botanically: Sempervivum tectorum
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: on gravel surfaces or in stone cracks
  • Winter hardiness: down to -20 °C

Frost Flower 'Fire Spinner'

  • botanical: Delosperma
  • Location: sunny
  • Growing place: Rock garden, beds and borders
  • Winter hardiness: down to -20 °C
Delosperma Fire Spinner

royal agave

  • botanical: Agave victoriae-reginae
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: rock garden, bucket
  • Winter hardiness: down to -5 °C

Spicy stonecrop

  • botanical: Sedum acre
  • Location: full sun
  • Growth location: dry stone walls, wall cracks, gravel paths or gravel roofs
  • Winter hardiness: down to -20 °C
  • hardy varieties: 'Yellow Queen', 'Hillbrandii', 'Beacon'

Cobweb houseleek

  • botanically: Sempervivum arachnoideum
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: on scree slopes, rocks and rough meadows
  • Winter hardiness: down to -20 °C

cacti

These exotics are suitable for locations that are too dry for other plants. Cacti convince with their aesthetic flowers in beds under the roof overhang or in the open space in the garden or on the garage roof. Cacti fit in perfectly in suitable containers made of terracotta or frost-resistant balcony boxes. The biggest enemy of these plants is waterlogging.

Beehive Cactus

  • botanical: Escobaria vivipara
  • Location: full sun
  • Growth location: mineral bed with clay content
  • Winter hardiness: down to -20 °C

hedgehog pillar cactus

  • botanically: Echinocereus coccineus
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: rock garden, bucket
  • Winter hardiness: down to -22 °C

Black brown thorn prickly pear

  • botanical: Opuntia phaeacantha
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: south-facing rocky slopes
  • Winter hardiness: down to -22 °C

Perennial prickly pear

  • botanically: Cylindropuntia imbricata
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: gravel bed, tub
  • Hardiness: -20°C to -25°C

calla

In contrast to the room calla, which is not hardy, there is a perennial and frost-resistant Zantedeschia. These hardy exotics can withstand temperatures down to -20 °C, but should be covered with dry leaves. The bulbs can be planted between spring and autumn and remain in the garden soil all year round.
Tip: If you want to be on the safe side, reach for the native Calla palustris. It thrives in the garden all year round and does not need winter protection.

Calla 'Crowsborough'

  • Botnaic: Zantedeschia aethiopica
  • Position: sunny to semi-shady
  • Growth location: sheltered bed

dragonroot

  • botanical: Calla palustris
  • Position: sunny to semi-shady
  • Growth location: Swamp bed, edge of a pond
  • Hardiness: down to -34 °C

bananas

These perennials create an exotic vibe that's a bit reminiscent of the tropics. Although most species come from frost-free regions, there are some hardy and unusual exotics. They can cope with sub-zero temperatures in the single digits. In severe frosts, you should insulate the plants with winter protection.

Darjeeling banana

  • botanical: Musa sikkimensis
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: sheltered from the wind on a southern house wall
  • Winter hardiness: down to -5 °C

Japanese fiber banana

  • botanical Musa basjoo
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: sheltered from the wind on a southern house wall
  • Winter hardiness: down to -15 °C

Palm trees

These plants are typical of tropical areas, but some species defy the Central European sub-zero temperatures and can be cultivated outdoors all year round. The following species are hardy to -25 °C with suitable winter protection. In the first few years, winter protection is recommended, even if there is little frost.

needle palm

  • botanical: Rhapidophyllum hystrix
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: rock garden, terrace, tub
  • Winter hardiness: without winter protection down to -15 °C

Palmetto Palm

  • botanical: Sabal palmetto
  • Location: full sun
  • Growth location: rock garden, terrace, small specimens in tubs
  • Winter hardiness: without winter protection down to -8 °C

Wagner's hemp palm

  • botanically: Trachycarpus wagnerianus
  • Position: sunny to semi-shady
  • Growth location: rock garden, terrace, tub
  • Winter hardiness: without winter protection down to -12 °C

carnivores

Among the carnivores there are some hardy exotic species. Because numerous carnivorous plants come from North America and easily survive temperatures down to -30 °C. Carnivores also grow outdoors in Central Europe. In autumn they withdraw into the so-called hibernacles and then survive in the protective moss cover. Winter protection for the bog bed in the garden is therefore recommended. Fir branches and foliage are ideal. Marsh primula (Primula rosea) and bog orchid (Pogonia ophioglossoides), both of which are considered hardy, are suitable as planting partners.

alpine butterwort

  • botanically: Pinguicula alpina
  • Position: sunny to semi-shady
  • Growing location: calcareous beds with moist conditions

Filamentous sundew

  • botanically: Drosera filliformis
  • Location: full sun
  • Growth location: bog bed

Horned Bladderweed

  • botanically: Utricularia cornuta
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: in moist sphagnum beds

Red pitcher plant

  • botanically: Sarracenia purpurea
  • Location: sunny
  • Growth location: in moist sphagnum beds

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