With storms like Hurricane Laura looming in the Gulf, it’s important we do our best to protect our plant-friends from the accompanying winds and rain. Being from Houston, Texas, I’ve seen more than my fair share of powerful tropical storms, so I know the drill when it comes to battening down the hatches for my outdoor plants.
First things first: Using a fast draining soil will reduce the chance of your succulents being bogged down with too much water. And remember that along with stormy weather comes cloudy skies, so if there’s a chance of overcast weather for more than a couple of days in the forecast, withhold fertilizing your plants to avoid etiolation.
Hanging Plants: With high wind speeds, you’ll definitely want to take down any hanging plants that could be blown down, or even worse, become airborne projectiles.
Potted Plants: If you keep your plants on a railing or shelf that will be exposed to the wind, take the time to relocate them to a safer location either on lower ground against a wall, indoors, or in a garage. If you have to keep them outside, check the forecast to see which direction the strongest winds will be coming from and try to find a dry spot that will be less exposed to the wind. You can use bins as mini-shelters but be sure they’re safely secured in place with objects heavy enough to withstand strong winds. This setup will need to be out of direct sun to avoid heat-poaching the plants.
Tall Plants: For taller plants like columnar cacti or Euphorbia trigona, be sure to move them to a safe location or else the wind can snap them in half.
If they’re in the ground or too heavy to move, cover them with an empty trash can and secure it to the ground with stakes or sandbags. Don’t leave them covered for too long or they can get too hot. You can drill some air holes in the containers to help with ventilation and reduce the chance of the wind knocking it over.
In-ground Plants: If you’re concerned about flooding, falling branches/objects, or wind damage, remember succulents can easily be uprooted and kept in a safe place for a week or longer. I had one very special plant in the ground during Harvey (my Fred Ives) and watched with dread as the backyard took on several inches of water. Luckily I was able to run out and pull him out of the ground during a brief lull in the weather.
Remember that covering your plants with tarps could cause more damage than good if the wind snaps them back and forth against your plants. Also, standing water can weigh down tarps and break your plants, so only use them in locations that won’t be exposed to too much wind and rain.
Don’t forget to secure any shelves, outdoor furniture, and other objects that could becoming airborne or knocked over and broken. Bring in watering cans and other containers that can blow away or hold water (to prevent mosquitoes and protect lizards or other critters from drowning).