How To Keep Succulents Alive During Winter

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 can they endure the cold inside?

Once you understand what they require, it is possible and not difficult to keep succulents alive throughout the winter. If you live somewhere with chilly winters, the best way to ensure that soft succulents survive is to overwinter them indoors. For the majority, it will be inside their homes, though it could also be a heated building or greenhouse.

Are succulents winter-resistant?

Succulents can be difficult to cultivate outdoors in the winter in colder locations. There are still certain succulent plants that thrive in snowy conditions, despite the fact that they are generally known for preferring sunlight and not the other way around. Three of the most cold-hardy genera are Sempervivum, Hardy Sedum, and Hardy Opuntia, which can withstand subfreezing winter temperatures of -30F. Agave and rosularia are two other succulents with high cold tolerance.

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.

How are succulents and cacti kept alive during the winter?

Cacti and succulents are excellent low-maintenance plants that add color to the home even on the gloomiest winter days. They provide aesthetic appeal to any table or windowsill with their unique forms and textures, and with proper care, they’ll last the entire long, cold season.

Cacti and succulents are suitable indoor plants all year round. Plants simply only a little light and sporadic watering during the winter. By the time fall arrives, the majority of cacti and succulents have gone dormant and will no longer grow as the weather and light conditions change.

5 Techniques for Winter Cactus and Succulent Care:

1. Plant your dormant plant in a location where it will flourish to make your cacti or succulents happy. During the winter, succulents require less light and can also tolerate indirect light. Make sure your plant receives at least three to four hours of bright light each day for the best results. Locations are happiest close to windows that face south or east.

2. Sandy, well-drained soil is best for growing succulents. Give your plant the nutrients it requires by using Espoma’s cacti and succulent mix. Make sure containers have drainage holes to allow extra water to drain because succulents can’t tolerate excessively moist soil.

3. Set the thermostat. Few succulents can withstand temperatures that are much colder than 50 to 55 degrees.

4. Succulents require deep watering, although they won’t need as much as they do during active growth. Use little water and only from the top, letting water seep through to the bottom. Keep plants out of water for brief periods of time. Keep water away from the cactus’ body since it can cause decay.

5. Look for vermin. Check your leaves every month for mealy bugs and aphids. If a plant is infected, remove it from the vicinity of other plants and spritz it with a solution of 3 parts rubbing alcohol to 1 part water.

Do succulents survive the cold outside?

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, how frequently should I water my succulents?

During the months that are not winter, when the temperature is above 40 degrees, you should water your succulents every other week. You should only water your succulent once a month in the winter (when the temperature falls below 40 degrees), as it goes dormant at this period.

A few situations constitute an exception to this rule. Because their tiny leaves can’t hold as much water as other varieties with larger leaves, some varieties of succulents need to be watered more frequently. In the non-winter months, feel free to give these small leaf succulents a water if they appear to be thirsty. When they are thirsty, succulents generally exhibit a wrinkled appearance. But always keep in mind that being underwater is preferable to being overwater.

Can succulents recover after a freeze?

Can a frozen plant still be saved? This truly depends on the kind of plant and how long it was exposed to the cold. On all save the most tropical plants, light freezes are typically something that a plant can recover from.

Remove damaged plant material from woody plants in the spring. In the late winter, you can detect which stems are dead by scratching the bark. The tissue is still alive if the substance is green below. They will lose their leaves as a result of the freezing, but they normally re-leaf in the spring. After all threat of frost has passed, maintain the plants’ moisture and apply a mild fertilizer.

More delicate plants won’t be able to endure the freezing damage and will turn into annuals. Perennial plants that have been frozen-damaged may only have little root damage, in which case you can divide the plant and replant the pieces. The ones that recovered from the root area’s cold did not deal a fatal blow.

How are succulents maintained indoors?

Succulents may not need much attention, but they do need a few essentials to survive:

  • 1. Provide plenty sunlight. Succulents require adequate light—at least six hours each day of direct sunlight. Maintaining succulents outside can be quite simple. However, if you have a succulent indoors, you must keep it in direct sunlight near a window. A plant that is slanting toward the light is not receiving enough sunlight, yet a plant with burnt areas on its leaves is receiving too much direct sunshine.
  • 2. Use proper water. Depending on the season, succulents might have different water needs. Succulents should be irrigated if their soil dries completely during the growing season, but excess water should be avoided. When a succulent’s roots have time to dry out in between waterings, its lifespan is increased. In the chilly winter months, succulent plants go dormant and require less water. Only water your succulent as often as necessary because overwatering the soil is one of the main reasons of most development problems.
  • 3. Use the proper soil and pot combination. The appropriate container and potting soil can make all the difference, whether you’re growing your own succulents or purchasing one from a nursery. Your succulent planter needs to include a drainage hole if it is going to be an outdoor succulent. Proper drainage allows moisture to escape, allowing the soil and root systems to dry and prevent rot. Use well-draining soil instead of standard dirt if you have an indoor succulent. It is coarser than regular soil, enabling more air to pass through and encouraging evaporation rather than requiring to be drained. To increase aeration, perlite and pumice can be added to some potting mixtures.
  • 4.Remember to fertilize. The periodic fertilizing is beneficial for even low maintenance desert plants. To give your succulents a boost, use a diluted, water-soluble all-purpose fertilizer a couple times a year. Although it’s not entirely required, if you notice that your soil needs some help, add a little fertilizer.
  • 5. Examine your plant life. Pest hazards are more likely to affect a succulent indoors than outside. Make sure your plants are periodically checked for gnats or mealy pests. These insects are a sign that your plants are receiving too much water or fertilizer. Mealy bugs can lay hundreds of eggs and consume the plant juices that serve as their host, gradually harming your plant. Rubbish alcohol can be sprayed on your succulent’s leaves or soil to effectively kill mealy bugs and their eggs. Check the leaves and soil of the succulent before bringing it home from the nursery to make sure no bugs are present.