Since most succulents are accustomed to hot, arid environments, they are particularly hard hit by winter’s frigid temperatures.
Some succulents, like Aloe, Echeveria, and Crassula, require frost protection when the temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The majority of the other species can endure temperatures higher than 40 °F.
No matter the genus, you should never leave your succulents in a freezer. The explanation is straightforward: because succulents hold a lot of water in their leaves, stems, and trunks, when the temperature drops below freezing, the water expands and bursts through the cell membrane. The plant will eventually expire.
The plants can sense fewer days and lower temperatures, which indicate the impending winter. However, by winterizing them, you can deceive your succulent. Before it becomes too cold outside, you can bring the plant inside and give it regular care.
Simply said, the fall is the ideal season to bring succulents inside. You need to keep your plants from detecting the shift in weather conditions, therefore don’t wait until the actual winter.
How can you survive the cold with succulents?
Many of the most popular and stunning succulents will need to be taken indoors for the winter unless you are fortunate enough to live in a place where it does not get below freezing. Although a greenhouse is ideal, few gardeners have access to one. Fortunately, it’s simple to overwinter most succulents inside.
There is a vast variety of various plants classified as succulents, some of which have very particular requirements. But the advice provided here will help most widely cultivated succulents survive the winter.
When grown inside, succulents frequently develop a habit of being stretched out and lanky, producing weak and unsightly plants by spring. When care for succulents indoors throughout the winter, light, water, and temperature are three crucial considerations that can help to reduce this.
Light is Critical
Light is the main component in succulent survival during the winter. Succulents will extend if there is insufficient light in an effort to get closer to the source. In general, succulents want full sun. Although it can be challenging to do so inside, expose them to as much direct sunshine as you can. The ideal window is one that faces south, though east or west windows can also be used.
If there is inadequate natural light, fluorescent lights may be employed. It’s crucial to keep the plants between the bulbs and 1 to 2 inches away from them. Over a distance of 3 inches, fluorescent light is practically useless to plants. For plant growth, incandescent lights emit the wrong spectrum of light and becoming too hot.
Succulents Need Little Water During the Winter
It is always preferable for succulents to be too dry than too moist. This is particularly true in the winter, when plants experience less-than-ideal lighting conditions and below-average temperatures. During the winter, keep your succulents on the dry side. Just enough water should be provided to prevent plant shriveling. You might just need to water once every 10 to 14 days in a cold area.
Keep the plant itself dry at all times, especially rosette plants like Echeverias. The plant will swiftly decay and become mush as water will collect in the rosette’s center. Keep in mind that keeping a succulent moist will destroy it quickly!
Cool Temperatures are Good
The majority of succulents do not require extra warmth during the cold. It’s crucial to prevent them from freezing. The ideal temperature range is between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The plants will remain in a semi-dormant state if kept cool. With the lower light intensity indoors during the winter, a warm environment fosters the growth of the plants, resulting in lanky plants.
No Fertilizer Needed
During the autumn and winter, succulents do not require any fertilizer. Instead of encouraging the plants to develop, you want to maintain them alive.
I’ve had great luck using these methods to overwinter plants like Echeveria, tender Sedum, Aeonium, Agave, Aloe, Crassula, Graptoveria, Kalanchoe, Faucaria, and Senecio.
The plants may endure the winter in a semi-dormant state with little stretching if you keep them sunny, dry, and cool. The succulents can be put back outside for a summer of sunbathing once the weather is no longer frosty.
Succulents do they regrow after the winter?
Succulents can be divided into three groups: winter-growing, partially dormant, and entirely dormant. In the winter, most varieties go into at least partial dormancy. They don’t grow much either, but their appearance won’t change significantly either. Don’t fertilize them over the winter and give them less water more frequently.
A few varieties lose their leaves like deciduous trees and enter a deeper slumber. some (such as
The die-back of Sedum kamtschaticum and Orostachys species occurs entirely above ground. However, their root systems continue to exist and each spring produce new growth.
The cultivars that grow during the cooler months, such as those listed below, are at the other extreme of the spectrum.
Haworthia, aeonium, and aloe The start of their growing season is signaled by shorter days and cooler temperatures. With these types, the best time to fertilize is throughout the winter.
Succulents can be left outside during the winter.
Some succulents will thrive outside all year for you if you live in a climate with four seasons, particularly one with harsh winters, but most won’t.
Although most won’t endure prolonged frigid conditions, each succulent has varied temperature requirements.
But there is a whole class of gorgeous cold-tolerant plants that are largely ignored in the succulent world! Many individuals are unaware of their existence or how numerous they are.
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Even if your environment dips well below freezing for the majority of the winter, you may still keep a lovely succulent garden outdoors using Sempervivums, select Sedums, and their hardy Opuntia relatives.
I started off growing succulents in Utah, which has a Zone 5 environment. I didn’t know there were succulents that could endure snow, therefore I was primarily cultivating succulents indoors.
Fortunately, Mountain Crest Gardens was recommended to me, and as a result, my succulent garden underwent significant improvement. According to my knowledge, Mountain Crest Gardens is the main source of cold-tolerant succulent species.
Their nursery is really located in a mountain valley near Mount Shasta in northern California, where they receive snow all winter. They have the most exquisite assortment of succulents that can withstand chilly temperatures.
These Sempervivums, Sedums, and Opuntias (also known as “Prickly Pear Cactus”) are wonderful since they can also survive in more temperate climes!
In the video below, you can learn more about what succulents can withstand below-freezing temperatures:
I have many sizable pots full of Sempervivums and Sedums that made the journey and are now flourishing here in Arizona, in addition to the numerous plants I did plant in the ground for my parents in Utah. I also want to expand my collection here with some cold-tolerant Opuntia.
Sempervivums are significantly harder than other rosettes succulents, such Echeverias, and make excellent rosettes if you are unfamiliar with how these succulents look. The color choices are also quite beautiful, ranging from pinks, reds, and purples to greens, yellows, and blues. You truly receive the entire rainbow!
The resilient Sedums are more of a ground cover and come in a wide range of forms, textures, and hues. You’ll find that some of them generate a wonderful trailing effect over the edge of your succulent pots, which looks fantastic when combined with Sempervivums.
My eye has been particularly drawn to the tough Opuntia. I was able to visit the Waterwise Botanical Gardens in Escondido, California, when they introduced a line of cold-hard Opuntias a few years ago. The most stunning flowers you’ll ever see on a succulent are produced by these plants in the spring, despite the fact that they may look like regular “Prickly Pear” cactus on the outside.
Opuntia “Pina Colada,” which has a blossom that truly changes colors, was one of my all-time favorites. It changes from being an orangey-pink color to yellow with pink and orange stripes in the middle the following day.
The amazing thing is that these cold-tolerant Opuntias are now available on Mountain Crest Gardens’ website thanks to a collaboration between Mountain Crest Gardens and Waterwise Botanicals.
So everyone who lives somewhere with four seasons, don’t forget to think about these incredible succulents! You’ll find that being able to observe some color and life in the midst of winter is very satisfying, in my opinion. Nothing compares to the Opuntias blooming at the start of spring, though!
It’s fascinating to observe how these hardy plants recover with vibrant, gorgeous hues even after spending the winter months buried beneath several feet or inches of snow. My awe for succulents never wanes!
In the winter, should I cover my succulents?
If you have a variety of succulents that can survive the winter outside, you might wish to do so. Your plump outdoor greens still require adequate care, though, otherwise the frost risked damaging them.
Not to mention that your plant’s roots could decay due to the winter’s damp soil. Additionally, if your region gets too much rain during the cold season, the succulents’ cells will swell. Additionally, the plant cell walls may rupture as a result of the frost. As a result, it is crucial to take precautions to safeguard your plant from all of these harmful situations.
Although some varieties of succulents can withstand below-freezing conditions, none of the species prefers frequent watering or excessive humidity throughout the year. Succulents prefer healthy soil that drains well, good airflow, and bright sunlight. Here are some precautions you should take to ensure your in-ground plants are taken care of over the winter.
Build a Greenhouse
The majority of succulents cannot withstand temperatures below 25 F during the winter nights. Bring your succulents into a DIY greenhouse if your area has the same winter temperatures, or if you have a gazebo, cover it with 5mm plastic and move your succulents there. Make sure to securely anchor the plastic, and tape the seams. You can even include a little heater if the temperature falls any lower.
Cover Your Succulents
Cover your outside succulent plants with bed sheets if your region occasionally suffers frost. Row covers and nonwoven fabrics, which are often constructed of spun nylon, are further options. Your plants will be protected when it is 2-4 degrees below freezing if you cover them with such blankets.
Additionally, don’t remove the dried leaves from your plants because they protect them from high temperatures. Move your plants that are sensitive to cold under a tree, deck, or eaves; this will prevent heat from escaping.
Where should succulents be kept throughout the winter?
Making sure succulents receive adequate sunshine indoors, especially during the winter, is one of the most challenging aspects of indoor succulent gardening.
Your succulents should be placed next to the room’s brightest window. The ideal window will receive all-day, brilliant indirect light.
This is crucial because the days are shorter in the winter. To retain their shape inside, succulents require at least 8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day.
Your succulents may start to spread out or lean toward the window during the winter months when there are a lot of gray or cloudy days. They aren’t getting enough light, as evidenced by this.
You can rotate your succulents in this situation to help correct any leaning. However, you will need to supplement with a grow light to avoid stretching.
Make sure the lights aren’t on all the time because succulents require darkness at night to complete their normal growth cycle.
At the conclusion of the winter, you can take off the tops and propagate any succulents that do start to stretch out or get tall and lanky. After that, you’ll have an abundance of summertime plants!
This is best done in the spring because most succulents don’t grow as quickly throughout the winter. Check out my post on extending succulents for more information on how to achieve this.
What are succulents used for in the winter?
The type of succulent you have will determine how to care for it in the fall and winter. They are, on the whole, a group that is simple to develop. If you provide them some sand, some water, and sunlight, they will repay you with beautiful shapes, cleaner air, and comforting company. But it helps to know how to handle a variety of these delicate guests and make them feel completely at home, whether you’re welcoming them inside over the winter or prolonging their stay as houseplants!
Know Your Succulents
With over 6,000 distinct varieties of succulents in 60 different plant families, it’s critical to understand which particular succulent you are taking care of. Knowing if your succulents are indoor growers or cold hardy succulents is important when talking about winter. The majority are from distant, scorching desert locations, but we do have a few that can withstand our zone 5 temperature. Some varieties of Sedums and Sempervivums, among others, may weather the harsh winters in the Chicago area, but many traditional succulents, such as Aloe Vera, Jade Plants, Panda Plants, and Christmas Cactus, must be kept warm and sheltered indoors.
Bringing Succulents Indoors
Before it gets below freezing, you must bring all of your sensitive, non-cold-hardy succulents indoors. Check for bugs and get rid of any ants, spiders, or other small creatures you find if you’re keeping them in the same pot. Additionally, remove any debris from the soil’s surface, such as dead leaves and twigs. Over the winter, you should offer your succulents a clean place to dwell and keep them away from any rotting objects.
Fall and Winter Maintenance
Succulents typically grow in dry, arid areas. They can store water for a long time thanks to their hefty, luscious leaves. This distinguishing characteristic lends them their distinct beauty, but properly caring for them still necessitates a few skills.
Repotting: You might want to do this if you’re bringing your succulents indoors. They could possibly use some fresh soil or a smaller container that will fit next to your window. Sandy, well-draining soil will help these desert plants flourish. Choose a particular succulent or cactus mix instead of a potting mixture that maintains moisture. Give them a container with lots of drainage holes, and take special care not to hurt their fragile roots when moving them.
Sunlight: Succulents are native to a variety of locations worldwide. Many originated in dry, fully-lit locations, while others developed in the cover of a jungle canopy. Find out whether your plants like direct or indirect sunlight by speaking with the gardening specialists at our garden centers or researching them online. Check on your guests sometimes to make sure they are not becoming sunburned because glass can sometimes enhance the strength of the sunshine. However, if you notice them slanting toward the window, it can indicate that they aren’t getting enough light.
Water: Many overzealous plant enthusiasts drown their succulents here. They are unaware that maintaining their dryness is just as crucial as moistening them. Between waterings, the top inch of the soil should be absolutely dry. When you do water them, give them a drenching similar to a desert downpour before cutting them off until their next need. Keep in mind that you should water the soil and not the leaves, which could decay. If the foliage is mushy, discolored, or squishy, you’re providing them with too many refreshments.
Navigating Winter Dormancy
Succulents spend a portion of the year inactive, like the majority of plants. This is a component of their coping strategy during a tough or dry season. Some plants hibernate over the winter, including your hardy sedums, agave plants, and pincushion cacti. They need considerably less water at this time. Frequently, watering once every two weeks is adequate.
Since many of them are native to the desert, they really hibernate during the hot, dry summers. Popular varieties of summer-dormant succulents include Kalanchoe, Aloe Vera, Snake Plants, Haworthia, and Jade Plants. It follows that the fall and winter are when they genuinely awaken and grow. In other words, they will only require low-normal watering levels. Discovering your plants’ dormancy schedule will help you take better care of them.
Live succulent plants have the beauty of requiring minimal upkeep for the most part. All they want for is soil with good drainage, sporadic moisture, adequate dry spells, and adequate sunlight. These simple conditions must be fulfilled for these gems to not only survive the fall and winter, but even thrive and grow—or, depending on the species, contentedly rest until the following spring!