Wintering plants in zone 10b, Los Angeles

robinpla(10b)November 12, 2012

I have about 45 cacti and succulents growing on top of my garage in west Los Angeles, zone 10b. Full sun all day. I keep the sensitive ones under a 30% shade cloth. Los Angeles rarely gets frost and the occasional night in December or January that we do it only last for a few hours. Average low temperature in December is 48F (9C). We get pretty much all of our precipitation during winter. I will protect my plants by covering them with tarps during the two or three storms that we get. I dread having to bring them inside, but if a lot of rain and cold is expected I might bring them down and inside the garage.

Reading about each plant is confusing: "Prefers 60F, can tolerate freezing for short periods of time", or "Minimum Avg. Temperature: 60F, tolerates frost".

So what winter preparations would you do in my situation? Is the winter weather where I live harmful to some plants?

(Some plants of mine that might be cold sensitive: euphorbia ambovombensis, adenium obesum, adenium arabicum, adenia glauca, euphorbia decaryi, abromeitiella brevifolia)

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No, in a word, as long as they're dry. When I lived in San Diego and had same / similar plants, the ones which had shed their leaves and were dormant were also left outside, but they were under an open-sided shelter (built against a fence) which allowed them to stay dry in the winter.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 7:26PM
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One of my adeniums lost most of its leaves the other week (and of course confusing me with some new green leaves). But I intend to stop watering them all soon. I have lost enough adeniums to rot. But this one plant's dormancy is a good indication that many other plants in my collection need less or no water.

I guess I need to read about each plants individual needs and water accordingly. But at least I have one vote for leaving them outside over winter :) Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 12:19AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

The Deuterochonia brevifolia is perfectly fine with winter rains in a pot.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 1:00PM
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David does cite an exception to your list - the Deut will be happy almost anywhere in your yard and would enjoy the winter rains.

Just as some additional information, one thing I've noticed is that there are several, if not hundreds, of exceptions, but in general most pachycauls go dormant. Under the above-mentioned structure, of all my Adeniums the Adenium arabicum never lost its leaves (so I watered it in winter) and, oddly enough, the from-the-winter-rainfall-area Pachypodium namaquanum lost its leaves for the briefest amount of time of all my Pachys (I had around 11), so if it was in leaf I kept watering it, although in San Diego they were protected from the rains most of the time in the winter. Up here, my Fockea edulis, Raphionacme flanaganii and Jacaratia corumbensis do not go out of leaf in winter, so they get some water, though not as much as in summer, when they're outside and in full (shaded) sun. The rest of the usual suspects (Cyphostemmas and Burseras, with the odd Commiphora) go dormant wherever I've had them.

But I'd agree with you - learn what you have and where it's from, and that will help a lot.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 2:32PM
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Sempervivums are Alpine succulents, and are the most frost hardy, but with the protections you are giving your plants, that shouldn't be an issue. Echeverias are native to Mexico, and are sensitive to frost. Maybe you could put the more sensitive plants toward the center. I imagine the edges get colder and are more exposed to the wind.

Be sure you have good drainage. I lost a few plants in the ground a couple of years ago when we had a heavy winter storm and water collected in some low spots.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 4:26PM
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Thanks everybody. I have had some of these plants in my possession for a few years and kept them outdoors in winter rains and near frost degrees, and they have survived. But I have also lost a few along the way mostly because I used the wrong soil and they got wet for too long. I don't know if any plant has succumbed because of low temperature, but wet soil and low temperatures might have.

I have been battling squirrels for many years. They have killed more plants than anything else. So this summer I decided to build cages for my plants and drape them with shade cloth. I have one cage that is 30% shade and one that is just a bird net (0% shade). It has worked out great. And I have repotted most of my plants in a 75% pumice 25% commercial cactus mix. I feel really good about the setup at the moment. I am just asking this to be as prepared as possible for the winter.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:20PM
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Here is a list of my plants, if anything in particular sticks out as cold sensitive. (I wonder what a person's collection says about the person itself :)


abromeitiella brevifolia
adenia glauca
adenium arabicum compacta
adenium obesum
adromischus marianiae
aloe variegata
aloinopsis malherbei
ariocarpus retusus var. furfuraceus
astrophytum asterias cv. SUPERKABUTO
astrophytum capricorne nivium
astrophytum ornatum
austrocylindropuntia subulata
bursera fagaroides
copiapoa hypogaea
dioscorea elephantipes
echinocereus pectinatus
euphorbia ambovombensis
euphorbia bupleurifolia
euphorbia decaryi
euphorbia horrida
euphorbia horrida x bupleurifolia
euphorbia obesa
euphorbia shoenlandii
euphorbia Suzanne
frailea phaeodisca
hoodia gordonii
jatropha cinerea
leuchtenbergia principis
lobivia famatimensis
mammillaria "fred" monstros
mammillaria hernandezii
monadenium magnificum
opuntia strobiliformis
ortegocactus macdougalii
rebutia muscular
sansevieria fischeri
sinningia leucotricha
sulcorebutia rauschii
tephrocactus geometricus
tradescantia sillamontana
turbinicarpus pseudomacrochele
uncarina grandidieri

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:28PM
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