How to select, grow and design with cold climate succulents—sedums, sempervivums and more.
Becky Sell of Sedum Chicks plants cold-hardy succulents in repurposed wood-and-metal containers, hypertufa pots, wreaths and more. She grows the plants, too, where she lives in Turner, Oregon, near the Washington border.
Becky’s compositions can overwinter outdoors in northerly climates (Zones 4 to 8), providing the potting medium drains well. Cold-hardy succulents such as stonecrops and hens-and-chicks will also grow in Zones 8 and 9 if protected from heat in excess of 85 degrees and scorching sun. Some varieties, notably shrub sedums, die to the ground in any locale and come back the following spring.
In her designs, Becky often combines sedums (stonecrops), sempervivums (hens-and-chicks), and Delosperma ice plants. Of a little-known Rosularia species with soft, light green leaves, she says, “When people ask which plant is my favorite, this is definitely on the list.”
There are about 35 species in the genus Rosularia. The sempervivum-like succulents come from Europe, the Himalayas, and northern Africa.
Find more photos of succulents for Northern climates—including many of Becky’s favorites—on my website’s new Cold-Hardy Succulents page. I photographed the designs shown here during the Northwest Flower & Garden Show at the Sedum Chicks booth, which won an award for outstanding visual appeal.
Below: This bright red vertical container was a hit. At right, I darkened the photo to make plant IDs, in white letters, stand out.
Below: Sempervivum ‘Jade Rose’ repeats the teal blue of a Sedum spathulifolium cultivar.
Below: In a cold-hardy wreath, Becky surrounded a large sempervivum rosette with smaller sedums, Delosperma cooperi (at lower left), and Sedum confusum (lower right).
Below: I’ve ID’d the three sedums in this wreath at right. Becky gives her plants “hair cuts” to keep them compact.
“I like its dark edges,” Becky says of Sempervivum ‘Black’, shown below in dramatic contrast with chartreuse Sedum ‘Lemon Coral’. At lower right is a succulent native to Oregon: Sedum oreganum.
Becky and husband Paul create planters from repurposed wood and metal. The bronzy succulents below are Sedum confusum, which blushes red-orange in a sunny location. When less confused, it’s bright apple green.
For wreaths and vertical gardens, Becky uses sphagnum moss to help hold plants in place. She emphasizes the importance of good drainage, which is true for all succulents, but especially those in rainy climates. Succulents from cold climates tend to have thin or small leaves and want a richer potting soil than thicker-leaved varieties from desert regions. Becky recommends Black Gold’s organic mix.
In my YouTube video, “Sedum Chicks at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show,” Becky explains how to select, cultivate and beautifully combine cold-hardy succulents.
Learn more about succulents for northerly climates:
How to Grow Tender Succulents in Northerly Climates: Resources and info for growing tender succulents in cold, northern climates.
Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.) See the section on Cold-Climate Succulent Gardens.
All my books show design ideas and give care and cultivation for Sedum and Sempervivum.
On my YouTube channel:
— Growing Succulents in Northerly Climates, Sempervivums Gorgeous new cultivars and design ideas from my presentation at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.
— Growing Succulents in Northerly Climates: Sedums and More More cool succulents for cold climates plus how to select, grow and design using them. From my second presentation at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.
— Sedum Chicks at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Designer/grower Becky Sell of Turner, Oregon explains how to beautifully combine sedums, sempervivums and other cold-hardy succulents.
— Make a Frost-Hardy Succulent Wreath with Hens-and-Chicks. Simple steps to a stunning wreath!