How To Protect Succulents In Winter

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.

Can succulents survive the cold outdoors?

Yes, it is the answer. Although certain succulents can withstand frost, they are frequently thought of as drought-tolerant plants. They flourish in chilly, snowy conditions, and the extreme cold even brings out their magnificent, vivid colors. They are referred to as “Hard Succulents.” Sempervivum, Sedum, and Euphorbias genera contain some of the most hardy succulents. You may plant such succulents outside all year round because the majority of them can withstand temperatures as low as -20F (Hardiness Zone 5).

“Soft Succulents” are another group of succulents that are more susceptible to frost. When the weather drops below freezing, they must be winterized inside.

How are succulents maintained during the winter?

Lighting is the most important aspect of wintertime indoor maintenance for succulent plants. Many require little water over the winter while they are dormant. However, certain succulents grow best in the winter and require water, nourishment, and even pruning. Learn the names of your plants so you can investigate their specific requirements and cater to them appropriately. When bringing indoor plants in the fall, if you’re unsure of which ones you have, cease feeding and watering them.

Your plants may occasionally receive enough light from a bright south or southwest window to survive the winter indoors. They probably require additional light if they start to tense up or appear pale. Owners of succulents frequently purchase grow light systems. In certain pieces, the shelving has built-in lighting. In some situations, fluorescent illumination is effective, but the plants need to be positioned within a few inches (5 cm) from the bulb. Online retailers offer many grow light systems with a wider depth range. Experts advise 14 to 16 hours of light each day for succulent care during the winter.

Succulents need to be placed in a bright environment with similar lighting to what they received outside in order to receive the proper winter care indoors. Place them away from drafts, but make sure there is adequate airflow.

Before bringing succulents inside to overwinter, clean the soil. Replant them if they are not in a suitable, quick-draining soil. Check for pests while clearing the soil of dead leaves. Before bringing succulents indoors for the winter, be sure your plants are healthy.

Succulents are occasionally grown as annual plants that are either allowed to flourish outside or not. You might be taken aback occasionally by a mild winter and hardy plants. Keeping soft succulents dry is essential for keeping them alive outside. For planting, a quick-draining, grippy mixture is essential. However, cold-hardy succulents that are properly planted in the soil can survive outdoors and thrive once more in the spring.

How can I shield my succulent plants from the cold?

Knowing how to protect succulent plants from frost is crucial now that the weather is turning colder and I’ve added them to my garden containers. Perennial plants typically die to the ground in response to winter cold. Their roots produce new growth in the spring. However, many succulents native to warm climes lack this adaption and necessitate special care when planted in areas where the temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Debra Lee Baldwin, a talented photojournalist and author, has some advice for you. — Avoid removing the dried leaves that are affixed to a succulent’s stem or trunk. They safeguard it from harsh temperatures (cold and hot). Keep succulent plants as dry as possible. When the liquid inside of turgid cells freezes, they are more likely to explode. — Move succulent plants in pots under a deck, a tree, or the eaves. (I attempt to conceal them in places that are covered adjacent to the home)

— Position pots near hardscape, stones, shrubs, and/or walls that absorb and gradually release heat from the sun. The best exposures are to the south and west. — Use old bed sheets or frost cloth to cover succulent plants. Avoid plastic, which amplifies sunlight, retains moisture, and prevents plants from breathing.

If your succulents are damaged by frost, only remove collapsed leaves if it’s likely that they’ll stay damp and decompose. Leave them on, though, and prune in the spring if they will protect the plant from subsequent frost. — Avoid cutting straight across tip-burned leaves on slender-leaved succulents (like agaves and aloes) in order to preserve their geometric shape. — Just put it down to experience. Now that you are aware, you can find a safe place for that specific plant. (I’m attempting to get better at gardening and have joined the Solano Master Gardener program.)

I have succulents, when should I cover them?

“Frost tender” succulents may experience variable degrees of damage, depending on how long the temperature is below freezing (32 degrees F). A sensitive plant’s cells expand, burst, and transform its leaves to mush when liquid inside them freezes. In a “light frost,” only the tips of the leaves may be harmed (“frost burn”). A “hard frost” is characterized by sustained temperatures below freezing, which can cause entire plants to die. Typically, succulents do not recover from roots.

Ones that are among the most fragile succulents include crassulas, aeoniums, euphorbias, and kalanchoes. Some succulents, in particular, have an inbuilt antifreeze that allows them to endure temperatures considerably below 32 degrees Fahrenheit—in fact, below zero.

Are your outdoor succulents at risk over the winter? Depending on where you reside, Please refer to “Cold Weather Care for Outdoor Succulents, By Region.”

Your area is frost-free (lucky you!) if…

This soft-leaved agave in my garden is the canary in the mineshaft when it comes to cold. Many succulents may survive a brief cold (less than an hour), but Agave attenuata’s leaf tips immediately reveal damage.

Although ugly, this damage rarely results in death. See how each leaf’s healthy green portion is? Cut each leaf to a point using scissors to remove the tissue-paper-like frozen tips. The harm won’t be very evident when you’re finished. Those shorter, clipped leaves will be buried by new growth during the summer. (Note: Such damage is comparable to scorching brought on by excessive sun and heat, which is common of desert conditions, and by wildfire, which, believe it or not, does occur.)

What about a succulent or agave that only suffers damage from frost on the tips of its leaves? Don’t even try trimming them. In a few months, it will shed those oldest leaves nevertheless.

areas with sporadic, light frosts (like Southern California’s interior):

If there is a “frost advisory” for your area, keep an eye on the weather forecast, and before it gets dark, go outdoors and cover your sensitive succulents. After midnight, frost is more common, and temperatures increase colder as dawn approaches. Warm air is lighter than cold air, which travels down hills and gathers in low areas. Succulents in swales are therefore more vulnerable than those on top of berms. You may have heard that Christmas lights slightly increase the temperature. Yes, if they are the traditional variety. LEDs in current use don’t produce heat. You should be concerned about succulents that are exposed to the elements and have nothing over them. I occasionally lean over a succulent and look up. It becomes draped if there aren’t any tree limbs or eaves directly above.

I reside at 1,500 feet in the foothills NE of San Diego (Zone 9b). And yes, after seeing the weather forecast on the late-night news, I have been outside at 11 p.m. in my pajamas and slippers, freezing while I place blankets on delicate plants while my husband holds a flashlight. I may leave the plants covered if several nights of frost are expected; otherwise, I take the sheets off the next morning. I fasten them with clothes pins and rocks to make sure they won’t blow off. AVOID using plastic. The plants are unable to breathe because of it.

In my yard, jades and other delicate succulents are covered in frost cloth. WATCH THE VIDEO

Why cold damages some succulents and not others

The origin of a certain plant type affects it greatly. Most succulents are native to dry, hot areas where they can store water in their leaves to survive drought. The ones that don’t freeze, however, are from dry, cold climates. See my essay, Showy Succulents for Snowy Climates, in the Wall Street Journal. The “hardies” include:

several species and cultivars of sempervivums (hens-and-chicks, above); some cactus, yuccas, and agaves (such as Agave utahensis, A. montana, and A. parryi); and lewisias from the Pacific Northwest.

For the winter, should I move my succulents inside?

Each summer, soft succulents can enjoy some sunshine outside, but they must return indoors before it becomes too cold. Pay attention to the light, air, soil, and water conditions as you bring your plants indoors for the winter.

Light

Naturally, indoor places receive less sunlight, especially during the winter. Sun-loving succulents should be placed close to a sunny window. To stop the pots from fading and straining, rotate them frequently. Add a grow light to rooms that don’t get enough natural light, or try indoor succulent varieties. For rooms with particularly low light levels, we suggest Haworthia, Jade, and Gasteria.

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.

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.

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.