Keeping my succulents dry

In our climate, most succulents do fine outside as long as they stay relatively dry in the winter. Rain was forecast for Friday, Saturday and Sunday so I finally got my act together and built a rain shelter for my succulent table.

This is what this table looked like in July.

Succulent stand on 7/7/2011

The plants sitting on top of the fence and on the top tier of the table had to be moved. I also rearranged the other pots to maximize use of the available space. I figure having the pots close together can only help retain some extra warmth on a cold night.

After rearranging on 11/13/2011

Here’s another view of the rearranged pots. Since rain was imminent when I actually did the work, I didn’t have time to rake the leaves, but that’s a cosmetic thing so ultimately it’s not important.


The shelter consists of 4-mil plastic sheeting, 10 ft. wide. I added a row of grommets along the top so the sheeting can be attached to the overhang of our front porch by means of small bungee cords.

4-mil plastic sheeting to serve as a rain shelter

Here’s the installed sheeting. Not the most architecturally stunning sight but inexpensive, fast, and fully functional—the perfect solution for me since I’m not very handy.

Installed sheeting

Another advantage I noticed: The area seems brighter because the plastic diffuses the light, and it’s noticeable warmer since it keeps out the most of the wind.

Another view of the installed sheeting

Here’s the view from the street. I don’t know what our neighbors will think, but I’m sure that before long we will find out through the neighborhood grapevine.

Rain shelter as seen from the street

The covered front porch is already home to many potted succulents, and for the winter, I’ve added plants that usually live elsewhere, like in the backyard or on top of the fence. The main goal is to protect them from the rain. Freezing temperatures are a separate issue; on nights below below 28°F or so, I will throw a frost blanket on the more tender succulents. That should be enough to keep them from getting damaged.

Front porch, now home to even more plants than usual. The rain shelter described above is on the right.

Here are some photos of what are becoming increasingly crammed quarters. But I actually find the massed arrangement of pots quite attractive.

Cacti and agaves on the edge of the front porch
Different view of same plants
View towards the driveway (on right)
Even our bistro table got taken over
Larger pots lining the edge of the porch, still covered by the deep overhang of the roof
Small table on the front porch. The plant on the left with thin strappy leaves is an Agave geminiflora. It’s been in this spot (bright light but no sun) for 2+ years and loves it.
Looking towards the front door (on right)
Repurposed shoe rack to the right of the front door
Area to the left of the front door; I plan to shove more plants under the bow window

A couple of dozen plants are now inside the house for the winter, including my angel wing and palm leaf begonias and the caudiciforms I bought at the UC Davis Arboretum plant sale recent. I’ll write a separate post about them soon.

P.S. The rain we had after my wife and I put up the rain shelter amounted to very little. It did rain hard west of here, but we were spared. But at least now I’m prepared for what is sure to come.


  1. How is the fence side of the rain shelter held down to keep the wind from blowing it up?

  2. Becky, with more bungees attached to the fence. There's enough tension that the wind shouldn't be able to blow it up.

  3. I like your succulent stage and the way you've arranged some of your pots on your patio :) It's good that the way you've put up the rain shelter you still have full access and view of your succulents, rather than obstructing them.

  4. You need to throw some camouflage netting over the plastic sheeting. :-)

    Do you ever feel like you're getting too many small pots? Maybe it's because your yard is smaller, but I've found that too many small pots in an area can start looking "busy". My solution is to combine three small plants into one larger pot, although that may be more work when the plants are as prickly as yours.

  5. Mark, thank you! I'm happy with most of the larger pots.

    Alan, I have way too many small pots. I will definitely consolidate them next year. I'm also toying with the idea of adding another succulent bed in the backyard so I can plant some of them out.

  6. Dang Gerhard your succulent collection has really exploded and is looking awesome. And where did you get that plastic sheeting. Turning my gazebo into a greenhouse is our next project. So don't want to spend a lot of money on shower liner's. Yours looks really thick and sturdy, just what we need. And guess what. I may be getting another gazebo just as large as the one I have. It would replace the temporary cover I have over my planting area. It has shelves too. One of Jordan's friends has to move and are giving it away. Yippee. He also has lots of pots to give also. I am so jazzed. Again your idea looks perfect and don't forget the frost paper.

  7. Candy, it just looks like my collection has exploded because everything is shoved together like that. Or maybe I do have a lot of stuff. But you still have me beat :-).

    I got the plastic sheeting on because I couldn't find anything suitable locally. Here's the link. A 10x25 ft roll (4 mil) is $11.55. That was more than enough for my area; I have lots left over to cover other exposed plants.

  8. Candy, forgot to say how generous of your son's friend to give you all that stuff. Can't wait to see what it will look like in you backyard.


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