Summer is a great time for outdoor succulents to grow and produce new babies. See how this hardy succulent garden changed in just 3 months!
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A little while ago I shared some photos and videos with you of the outdoor succulents I planted at my parent’s house. It’s a zone 5 climate which means the winters get below freezing for extended periods of time.
Lots of snow. Lots of cold.
We planted these succulents at the beginning of May and in just 3 months the growth has been impressive! Outdoor succulents tend to grow more quickly than succulents kept indoors, but I was still amazed at the change.
A lot of different succulents were planted in these gardens, and I list them all in the first post about planting them. But, I wanted to list them again here in case you haven’t looked at that post yet.
Here is a list of the products I used to create these succulent landscapes:
- 3 x Hardy 9 Sampler collection
- 2 x Sempervivum heuffelii 9 collection
- 3 x Rock Garden Hardy Succulent 9 collections
- 1 x Sempervivum Hens and Chicks 5 collection
- A variety of top dressings
- Ceramic toad house
- Self watering globe
- The equivalent of a 1lb bag of unrooted Sempervivums
- Resin fairy house
- Colorful ceramic mushrooms
Now… Since I’m not actually caring for these plants myself, I’m going to share my mom’s experience with each of the garden areas so you get a feel for what works, what doesn’t, and which areas are doing the best.
Overall things are going well! The Sempervivum hens have put off so many chicks! The Sedums are taking over everything (more on that in a bit). It’s quite a sight!
Below you’ll find photos of the different gardens at various stages, in May when they were first planted, June before things got too hot, July when the Sedums were taking over, and August when things got cleaned up a little.
The Birdbath Garden
Let’s start with the infamous birdbath. The actual birdbath was replanted this year. See year 1, year 2, and this year. This area gets full sun almost all day long, including the afternoon when it’s extremely hot.
If you look at the previous post about it you’ll see what normally happens to it.
The Sedums around the base have been there since year 1. They have done incredibly well with zero help or maintenance.
Here’s how everything looked at the beginning of June, about a month after the birdbath was planted:
A little chaotic, but still looking ok. But then… things started to get more out of hand… Here’s what it looked like on July 12 (about a month after the photo above):
So, my mom decided it was too much. The goal is for the succulents to be low maintenance. These would have to be cut back quite a bit each year to prevent them from taking over. It’s doable, but not what we are going for here. So they got pulled out.
Guess what was buried under all those Sedums? Semperviuvms (Hens and chicks)!
When I planted this area 3 years ago I had a nice mix of Sedums as well as Sempervivums. But, as will happen, the Sedums started to spread and get taller, covering up the Semps.
Now it will be fun to see how these Semps, with more light to absorb and room to spread, will do over the next few years. I’ll likely add in a few more in the fall when it’s a little cooler but before the first frost.
Also, if you didn’t notice earlier… the birdbath succulents are doing really well! The self watering globe is making all the difference. It keeps the roots cool and helps prevent the succulents from burning.
These succulents haven’t grown quite as much as some in other areas of the yard. The reason being they are using every ounce of water to ensure they survive the heat, so very little resources are put toward growing.
As it cools off in September and October I’ll fertilize them so they get a boost of growth before their winter dormancy.
The Succulent Chair
I was particularly curious how the succulent chair would do. It is in an area that gets dappled light for most of the day. It’s also in the path of the sprinklers which run every other day (or sometimes every day).
Here’s how it looked when I completed it at the beginning of June:
When I made the chair I used Spanish Moss which retains very little water. Turns out, this is working out well! They aren’t stretching, they aren’t too dried out or rotting. Seems this combination of planting material and the location are a good fit.
Here’s how it looks at the beginning of August:
The Fairy Garden
I am so in love with how the fairy garden is doing. It has mostly been filled up with “scraps” of succulents from other projects or succulents transplanted from other areas of the yard.
Most of the succulents toward the left of this section have been there for 3 years. They’ve done pretty well considering they are extremely neglected and get limited water.
When I added the other succulents it looked a little sparse, but I knew it would fill in. Considering most of these succulents were leftovers, I’d say it looks pretty good!
This is what it looked like at the beginning of May:
Just a month later it had already filled in quite a bit! Plus, we added a few more fairy elements and replaced the gourd birdhouse. This shot is how it looked at the beginning of June:
This area gets some sun in the morning, shade for most of the afternoon, and then an hour or two of sunlight at dusk. The sprinklers don’t spray directly on it, but it gets some run off from other areas. It also gets a good soak every once in a while if someone thinks about it (not more than once a week).
Here’s how it looks at the beginning of August, about 2 months later:
Again, the Sedums started taking over and spread too quickly so some got yanked. Otherwise things are still in place. Some of the Semps have almost doubled in size and have a lot more chicks!
The Rock Garden
If I had to pick a favorite succulent garden, I don’t know if that’s allowed or possible, it would be this one. I love the combination of rock paths (thanks to my sweet neighbor, Emma) and the rows of succulents.
It seems to be the perfect combination of organization and natural beauty.
The rock garden faces east and is up against the house. While doesn’t have any sprinklers on it, though there are pots next to it that have a drip system in them. Excess water from those pots runs off into the rock garden.
It also gets any water from the spigot when the hose is in use. It’s right below the spigot and the spigot has a fair amount of leakage when the hose is on. From time to time someone does water it, but only once a week or less.
This area seems to be the best for Sempervivums in terms of sunlight, heat, and water frequency. It gets plenty of sun from dawn until early afternoon, but doesn’t get sunlight in the afternoon and evening when the temperature is at it’s peak.
And now, let me show you how this garden looked when I planted it at the beginning of May:
We added in a fairy house at the beginning of June and I am amazed at the new growth in just a month. I’m telling you, outdoor succulents in the ground grow so much faster than indoor succulents or outdoor succulents in pots.
Here’s a photo from the beginning of June:
This stage was almost perfect for me. If only it could have stayed so perfectly imperfect. Alas, those Sedums do not like to be contained. They need to be in an area with plenty of room to spread, or you’ll need to keep cutting them back.
Take a look at how much things grew by the middle of July:
Remember, the goal here is a low or no maintenance succulent garden which means… you guessed it! Sayonara Sedums! Here’s the garden at the beginning of August:
The hens and chicks are loving the extra space and some extra sunlight. No more Sedums towering over them. And, you can see the fairy house again!
I do miss some of the texture from the Sedums, but the Semps will fill in really well. There’s a good reason we call Sempervivums hens and chicks. Just look at the number of babies these are putting off!
You may also notice the various sizes of Sempervivums in this garden. The group on the left are much larger than the cobweb succulents in the center.
It won’t take nearly as many chicks for the Semps on the left to fill in the space around them. The cobweb Semps will have a really awesome texture as the produce more chicks and begin to create a mound.
Overall I am thrilled with how well these outdoor succulents are doing. Growing succulents in the ground is a different challenge, but fun!
Thank goodness my wonderful mother is willing to keep me posted with how she is taking care of things. Most of the areas are “neglected,” meaning they get water if there happens to be some there, but are otherwise left alone.
We’ve learned that Sedums aren’t the best fit for these tapestry type designs, but some lower growing ones may be a good option. In the mean time, we’ll let the Sempervivums do their thing.
I hope you are able to see what a beautiful garden you can create with cold hardy succulents! Whether you have winters with lots of snow, or just a few days below freezing, Sempervivums and Sedums are a great way to create a low-maintenance garden in a four season climate.
Thanks for reading this article!
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