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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - September 09, 2012

From: Bethlehem, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Winter care of succulents from Bethlehem PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live in the northeast and we used succulents on our deck this summer because nothing else would survive the intense heat. How can I save these beautiful plants through a cold winter? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Bring them in the house. Actually, that answer can vary according to the type of succulent and the amount of outside protection you can give the plant. There are literally hundreds of types of succulents, so you need to follow some links we are going to give you and plan accordingly. This particular member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team also has only succulents, in pots, but they are all on a 6 x 12 concrete porch which gets a lot of sun in the winter and mostly late afternoon sun in the summer. Of course, this in Central Texas, Zone 8b, where succulents truly belong. But we would always recommend that you stay with plant size that can be grown in a container that you can move into a sunny window or even a garage, if that's the best you can do. The succulents can get along with less sun than you would think they could, but they can't tolerate hard freezes. Please read our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants. You will probably not find many succulents native to Pennsylvania, but the general principles still apply.

Now for some resources on succulents in a cold climate:

Danny Lipford Expert Advice on Home Improvement, "Ask Julie," Winter Care of Succulents.

eHow.Home How to Care for Succulent Plants in the Winter

gardenguides.com How to Care for Succulent Plants in the Winter

The Succulent Garden Succulent Cultivation

Ordinarily, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Smarty Plants recommends not only plants native to North America, but to the area where they are being grown, so we searched on our Native Plant Database for succulents native to Pennsylvania and found exactly two:

Opuntia humifusa (Devil's-tongue)

Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle)

Probably the succulents you have are not only not native to Pennsylvania but not native to North America, so we can't help you with specific plants very much. Some may not be worth the extra trouble; if some are too big to get into the house, you will just have to let them take their chances outside. If they live, great. If they die, write it off to experience and don't get that one again.

 

From the Image Gallery


Low prickly pear
Opuntia humifusa

Adam's needle
Yucca filamentosa

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