15 Cold-Hardy Succulents
Succulent season doesn’t end when summer does. There’s a slew of these pretty plants that can take as much cold as winter can dish out. Plant them outdoors for year-round color. They can take below-zero temperatures as long as you give them full sun and dry soil.
‘Spring Beauty’ Sempervivum
Also known as a hen-and-chick plant, sempervivum is known for its gray-green rosettes that turn plum-colored when the temperatures drop. Where do sempervivums get the poultry nickname? The mother plant (the hen) spreads by making tiny, new rosettes on stalks (chicks). Use sempervivums in containers and rock gardens. These natives of the mountains of southern Europe can endure temperatures of 50 below. You’ve no excuse for killing them. Zones 2 to 9.
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‘Lime Twister’ Sedum
This stonecrop cultivar grows sprawling mounds of variegated white and green leaves that get tinged in red in the cool weather of spring and fall. It’s part of the SunSparkler series from plant breeder Chris Hansen and is derived from a sedum native to mountains in North America. They like dry soil and full sun. Give them rich soil or too much shade and they’ll become weak, floppy plants. They spread slowly over time, so they’re good for naturalizing an area. Zones 4 to 9.
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‘Red Carpet’ Sedum
This low-growing groundcover sprawls in a thick mat of stems and leaves that turn burgundy in the fall and stay red all winter, bringing color to the garden when everything else is dead. Sedum spurium is native to the Caucasus region between Europe and Asia and can take temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero. It produces tiny, star-shaped pink flowers that butterflies adore. Plant it on a sunny slope or in a container and let it trail over the edges. Zones 3 to 8.
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This one grows a mat of lime-colored rosettes with pink-tinged leaves that work well as groundcover. They look like their cousin sempervivum, but rosularia has bell-shaped blooms instead of star-shaped. Like their hen-and-chick kin, they need lots of sun and fast-draining soil. They’re native to the Himalayas and the mountains of Turkey, but they’ll be happy in your rock garden or in a container. Zones 5 to 9.
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‘Cosmic Candy’ Sempervivum
This hen-and-chick turns deep red when the temperatures drop, and then it stays red year-round. It’s known as a cobweb sempervivum because of the white growth on its leaves that looks like a spider web. Rosettes grow two inches tall and 12 inches wide, spreading by sending stalks of baby rosettes out from the mother plant. Plant them in a rock garden or a container. Zones 3 to 8.
This groundcover forms mats of round, flat greenish leaves with red-tinged edges. In the winter, new leaves are burgundy, bringing a splash of color to the landscape. Native to the Caucasus, it produces tiny, star-shaped, rose-pink flowers and can endure below-zero temperatures. Use it to edge along a wall or plant it in a container and let it trail over the edges. Zones 3 to 8.
‘Turquoise Tails’ Sedum
A hardy blue-green groundcover, sedum sediforme is a variety of stonecrop that grows up to six inches high and spreads in mats of leaves 18 inches wide. It produces tons of tiny yellow flowers in the summer and can withstand temperatures of 20 below in the winter. Plant it in a hanging basket and let it trail over the edges. Zones 4 to 8.
Native to the mountains of Asia, this plant will thrive in your winter garden. It’s an evergreen groundcover with roundish leaves that start out medium green with red-tinged edges and turn deep burgundy in cool weather. It produces tiny flowers in the spring that attract butterflies, and its deep red foliage brings color to your landscape in deepest winter. Plant in masses on a slope or in a container in full sun. Zones 4 to 8.
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Sedum kamtschaticum is a low-growing groundcover that makes a mat of lime green leaves with red-tinged edges up to six inches tall and spreads with trailing stems. It gets its name from its native Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia. Yes, it grows in Siberia. It’s that tough. Its foliage goes away in the winter, but its tiny russet-red fruits remain to give a shot of color to a winter container or garden. Zones 3 to 8.
Native to northern Africa and Western Asia, sedum album is a creeping evergreen with dense foliage that grows to four inches tall with a spread of 12 to 19 inches. It produces tiny, white flowers in clusters in mid-summer that attract butterflies. In the fall and winter, its leaves turn reddish-brown and make a lovely winter show. Plant in containers or use as groundcover between stepping stones. Zones 3 to 8.
‘Gold Nugget’ Sempervivum
There aren’t enough orange plants in the world, but ‘Gold Nugget’ is here to remedy that problem. This sempervivum has lime green rosettes that turn jewel-toned shades of orange, gold and red in the winter. Use as a groundcover or in containers and give them tons of sun and scant water. Zones 4 to 9.
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This gorgeous succ has pink-orange leaves with deep plum tips. It spreads over the ground by putting out new rosettes from the mother plants and will form a thick mat of foliage. It hits peak color when temps go below freezing. Use in containers, a wreath or as a groundcover. It will thrive under a layer of snow, but you should protect it from heavy rain and standing water to prevent rot. Zones 5 to 10.
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This sempervivum is part of a subset called Heuffelii (pronounced hew-FELL-ee-eye) that has broader, flatter rosettes and lives longer than most other hens-and-chicks. ‘Fandango’ has lime green leaves that tinge deep red in cold temperatures, so these guys hit their stride in mid-winter. Give them lots of light and little water to keep them happy. Zones 4 to 10.
‘Pacific Blue Ice’ Sempervivum
This hen-and-chick has silvery-blue rosettes that tinge with purple or pink in cold temperatures. It produces spikes of tiny pink flowers in the mid-summer when it does most of its growing, but its foliage is peak bright in the depth of winter. Use in containers, a wreath or as a groundcover. Zones 5 to 10.
‘Red Beauty’ Sempervivum
These rosettes tipped in deep red will spread over the ground in a thick mat of foliage and can survive temperatures as cold as 20 degrees below zero. In mid-summer they’ll produce spikes of pink flowers, so they’ll stay pretty year-round. Use in containers or as a groundcover. They also look great in a wreath. Zones 4 to 10.
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