The month of February was one to remember for those of us growing succulents in the Pacific Northwest. We took a right to the jaw with 4 inches of snow fall, followed by a left to the jaw with another 5 inches, then a shot to the ribs with another 4 inches. Once it was all settled and iced over we had a foot of snow and freezing weather to keep it around. After living here for nearly 30 years, I can say I have never experienced anything like this. Yes, we get snow from time to time, but not usually a barrage of snowy freezing weather. Not this deep and not for so long.
Of first concern were the plants in the greenhouse. Were they warm enough? (no) Was the weight of the snow too much (yes). To add to our woes, the power went out leaving us scurrying out in hats, boots, and gloves in the dark, unloading the greenhouse and moving approximately 200 plants onto a tarp in the family room. In the rush, a few plants were dumped, some broken. We took advantage of the time indoors for some mid-winter plant care and addressed a couple of mealy bug issues.
At our February meeting members had an opportunity to share their personal horror stories as they dealt with plants kept under the eaves, in unheated greenhouses, and even in heated greenhouses. One of the scariest situations happened in the greenhouses of our member who grows many caudex plants and unusual plants in very full greenhouses. He had to hold the plants at just above freezing as he was nearly out of propane and the delivery truck couldn’t reach his home. As he described it, “It’s survival of the fittest.”
While it was an intense time for the humans, the plants we brought indoors showed signs of spring growth starting. Snow or not, spring is here as far as the plants are concerned. I am always amazed and impressed at the will to live hardwired into succulent plants. We know they are designed to survive in arid and harsh conditions, yet I see the same resiliency carrying them through some pretty cold weather. The critical factor being that they are completely dry.
As of this writing, we are seeing some sun, some warmer days and the early tulips and daffodils starting to show color. After going through some real winter, I think I appreciate the coming spring even more.