This list of cold hardy succulents includes plants that can take cold temperatures that would kill their more tender cousins.
There are three main varieties of succulents that can thrive in freezing temperatures – sempervivums, sedum stonecrop, and delosperma. Most types of these varieties will tolerate temperatures as low as -20° Fahrenheit (some even to -30°).
Fortunately, for those who love succulents, there is a nice range of these two varieties to try, as well as a few other types. Keep reading to see my list of succulents that can survive winter outdoors.
What is a succulent?
The word “succulent” is a catch-all term for plants with fleshy stems that don’t mind drought-like conditions. They are very popular, easy to grow, easy to propagate, and come in many varieties.
Plants such as echeveria, string of pearls and haworthia are known as “tender succulents” or “soft succulents.” They don’t like the cold and need to be kept indoors during the winter months in most zones to survive.
However, there is a small group of succulents that can take the cold in stride, and even prefer this period of cold to hot summer days. These are called winter “hardy succulents.”
Throughout this post are affiliate links to Mountain Crest Gardens, my favorite supplier of succulents. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.
List of cold hardy succulents for outdoors
Hardy succulents are able to be grown year-round in most regions of the country. Many types form the popular rosette shape.
The cold hardiness of these succulents makes them able to be grown outdoors in a wide spread temperature area. They are frost hardy down to at least 0°F. Many will even survive down to -20° F, and a few to -30° F .
They are also drought resistant and need very little in the way of care. Use them as ground covers, in containers or even in living walls. The possibilities are endless.
During the middle ages, hardy succulents were planted on rooftop as a deterrent to lightning. This practice continues today but more as an environmentally friendly green roof.
Cold hardy hens and chicks – sempervivum
The hardy succulents plant type with the most varieties is sempervivum, also known as hens and chicks, or houseleek. There are dozens of varieties of this frost tolerant succulent and even more hybrids and cultivars.
The plant gets its common name from the mother plant (the hen) which produces small baby plants (the chicks) surrounding it. These hardy outdoor succulents make a fabulous ground cover plant and are tough and easy to care for.
This sempervivum hedgehog plant has 8 chicks and it’s only in a 2 inch pot!
The rosettes that form can be as small as a 1/4 inch or as wide as 10 inches.
The succulent has a rose shape which can form dense mats. Sempervivum is not particular about soil and comes in many colors, textures and shapes.
One appealing aspect of the plant is its ability to change color with the seasons.
Use these cold hardy succulents in rock gardens and container projects. There is quite a variety of types as this photo of a recent succulent shipment shows!
The leaves of sempervivum succulents vary a lot. They can be shiny, velvety, webbed or tufted. Some have small cilia that makes them appear to be covered in fur.
Sempervivum succulents are monocarpic. This means that they flower one time and then die. Flowering normally takes the plant 2-5 years.
The death of the flower is not the end of the plant however, since the chicks that surround the hen will continue growing and fill in the space that the hen once occupied.
Flowers of sempervivum are spectacular and star shaped. They can be red, yellow or pink and can reach up to 2 feet tall. They last from 2-4 weeks.
The hens and chicks hardiness zones include temperatures down to -20° Fahrenheit.
Sempervivum survive in many light conditions but will appreciate some shade if the temperatures exceed 85° Fahrenheit.
For best root development, sempervivum like to be watered well and then allowed to dry fully. Water young plants more frequently to establish roots. Be sure your pots have drainage holes.
Some of the popular types of cold hardy sempervivum succulents to look for are:
- Sempervivum tectorum – this popular variety ranges from plain green leaves to those tipped in red or even completely red. The common houseleek is easy to find if you are just starting to grow sempervivum succulents.
- Cotton Candy sempervivum – this variety has tufts of cilia that look like tiny bits of spider web over the surface.
- Red sempervivum – try sempervivum ‘Saturn’, sempervivum ‘red robin’ and sempervivum seneca for a nice range of shades. Some, such as sempervivum gold nugget, change colors from gold to deep burgundy.
Sempervivum gold nugget photo credit – Mountain Crest Gardens
More cold hardy sempervivum succulents
If you love the rosette shape of hens and chicks, try one of these frost hardy sempervivums:
- Sempervivum ‘Jade Rose’
- Sempervivum ‘Spring Beauty’
- Sempervivum ‘Moss Rose’
- Sempervivum ‘Dynamo’
- Sempervivum ‘Red Wings’
- Sempervivum ‘Green Wheel’
- Sempervivum ‘Alpha’
- Sempervivum ‘Pacific Sparkler’
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Cold hardy sedum stonecrop succulents
The second group in our list of hardy succulent plants is sedum.
Sedum is a genus of drought tolerant plants that store water in their leaves and stems. They are a part of the crassulaceae family.
There are two types of sedum – tender sedum and hardy sedum stonecrop. The plant is called stonecrop because of its stone-like appearance.
The stonecrop group is a tough cold hardy sedum groundcover variety that will take full sun, withstand drought and survive deep freezes. They are a very forgiving plant that will transform a garden bed in style.
Use sedum stonecrop in living ways, rooftop gardens, rock gardens, containers and as a general ground cover in all types of sunny garden spaces.
Stonecrop varieties are generally grown as a groundcover and normally stay on the small side – up to about 6″ tall. A few varieties can grow up to 2 feet tall.
Sedum stonecrop can take more sun than the other hardy outdoor succulents will. Choose a gritty soil that drains well.
There are also many varieties of sedum stonecrop succulents that will take the cold temperatures and still grow next spring.
The sedum hardiness zone for most stonecrop varieties is -20° Fahrenheit. Some will even tolerate temperatures to -30° Fahrenheit.
Some types stay green all year long. Others lose their leaves in winter but re-grow the following spring.
Propagate cold tolerant sedum from stem cuttings. They take easily!
Some of my favorite sedum stonecrop to look for are:
- Creeping sedum stonecrop varieties – from the dwarf sedum rubrotinctum ‘Mini Me’ to the stubby sedum dasyphyllum or the feathery sedum mexicanum ‘Lemon ball’ – these varieties will creep over everything in sight.
- Trailing cold hardy sedum varieties – If you like to grow sedum in hanging baskets, try one of the trailing varieties such as sedum confusium, or sedum ruprestre ‘Silver’.
- Vertical growing sedum stonecrop – these frost tolerant succulents are taller in a garden bed for more impact. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (hardy in zones 3-9) is my personal favorite. I love being treated to its vibrant pink flowers each fall!
More cold tolerant sedum stonecrop varieties
If you need a cold hardy succulent ground cover, try one of these varieties:
- Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’
- Sedum ruprestre
- Sedum spurium ‘Red Carpet’
- Sedum reflexum ‘Angelina’
- Sedum album
- Sedum telephium
- Sedum ‘Lime Twister’
Cold hardy delosperma – ice plants
Ice plants – delosperma – are a ground cover that will tolerate drought and snow. It will grow in rocky soil and doesn’t mind full sunlight.
This cold hardy succulent is covered with a mass of vibrant flowers during the spring and summer. It grows quickly and requires little care.
Most varieties of delosperma can tolerate a deep freeze and will survive in temperatures down to -20° Fahrenheit.
Delosperma spreads quickly and pieces of it can be transplanted around the garden.
This frost tolerant succulent has flowers in many different colors from red, purple, pink, yellow and orange shades to those with white blooms.
Here are some popular varieties of cold hardy delosperma:
- Delosperma Hot Cakes ‘Fig Fusion’ – brilliant purple colors
- Delosperma Hot Cakes® ‘Banana Blast’ – pretty yellow and white flowers which look like daisies
- Delosperma Hot Cakes® ‘Pumpkin Perfection’ – orange flowers with yellow and white centers
- Delosperma Hot Cakes® ‘Coconut Crush’ – white flowers with yellow centers
- Delosperma Jewel of Desert ‘Peridot’ – large yellow flowers
Some of the links below are affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.
Other types of cold hardy succulents
While it is true that most frost tolerant succulents come from the three family groups above, there are also a few other types to grow.
- Rosularia & Prometheum form mats and have a classic rosette shape. Most will survive to -20° Fahrenheit.
- Opuntia – also called prickly pear cactus – they are grown for their paddle-like leaves and large, showy flowers. They are easy to grow and maintain, and will take temperatures to -10° Fahrenheit.
- Orostachys – A bit harder to find but very cold hardy down to even -30° Fahrenheit.
- Jovibarba – Will take the coldest of temperatures. They are even more cold hardy than sempervivums!
- Agave – (note: not all varieties of agave can take freezing temperatures.) Neomexicana & Havardiana are two of the most cold hardy agave species, able to withstand temperatures down to -20° Fahrenheit.
Frost tolerant succulent shopping list
You can print this succulent shopping list in the project card at the bottom of the page!
Where to find cold hardy succulents for sale
All of the big box hardware stores and Walmart have a few succulents that can survive winter for sale, but the range is not very large. Most of their the succulents they sell are tender succulents more useful as indoor plants.
I have had good luck sourcing frost tolerant succulents at my local Farmer’s Market and at small local nurseries.
There are many suppliers of hardy succulents online.
- Shop Mountain Crest Gardens for a huge range of winter tolerant succulents. (my favorite place to shop online for cold hardy succulents!)
- Check out Etsy for cold hardy succulent plants.
- Amazon has a range of cold tolerant succulents for sale, too. Be sure to check the description to make sure the plants can take the cold.
Pin this post for hardy outdoor succulents
Would you like a reminder of this post for the succulents that can take winter temperatures? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.
You can also watch our winter hardy succulents video on YouTube.
- Card stock or printer paper
- Computer printer
- Load your heavy card stock or glossy photo paper into your Deskjet printer.
- Choose portrait layout and if possible "fit to page" in your settings.
- Print out and take it with you for plant shopping or keep in your garden journal.