Caring for Succulents in Winter

Learn how to properly care for your succulents over the winter indoors. Keep them healthy and looking their best with these tips!

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Are you ready to bring your succulents in for the winter?

Depending on where you live and the type of succulents you are growing, you may need to consider bringing some of your succulents inside for the winter. Many succulents can’t handle temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

I’ve been building my collection of cold hardy succulents, but I still have quite a few tender succulents. Usually around August or September I start trying to pick my favorite plants to bring inside — not an easy thing to do! I don’t have nearly as much room to grow succulents indoors as I do outdoors.

There’s a few things that will help the transition from outside to inside go a little more smoothly, so let me share with you a few tips.

Learn how to properly water and care for your succulents indoors in the winter
Aloe, Crassula perforata, Cotelydon tomentosa, Sempervivum ‘Green Wheel’, Sedum nussbaumerianum, Echeveria ‘Blue Rose’

Water Outside

Since it can be a hassle to water my succulents indoors (bringing them all to the sink, waiting for them to stop dripping, etc.) I like to water them one last time outside. I’ll usually water them 1-2 days before bringing them in. This allows them to soak up the water they need and start to dry out. That way my shelves stay nice and dry once the succulents are inside.

Don't let your succulents die because you don't know how to properly water them!

Well Draining Soil

You’ll also want to make sure (if they aren’t already) that your succulents are in a well draining soil in a pot with a drainage hole. Succulents grown indoors will do much better if they have the right soil and container.

If you don’t want to mix your own succulent soil, I’ve been using this succulent soil mix from Bonsai Jack and love it! It’s the same recipe I used to make myself, but now I don’t have to slave away for hours making it. Your succulents will definitely thank you for putting them in the right soil.

Prep the Pot for Inside

When you are finally ready to bring your succulents inside, you’ll want to make sure the pot is ready. Remove any leaves or other debris from the pot.

I found that my succulents had quite a few leaves from nearby trees as well as dead leaves that they had shed. I removed as much of these as possible and then reapplied my top dressing to make sure the pot looked nice and fresh! My tweezers were extremely helpful for this part.

Remove debris from pots of succulents before bringing them inside for the winter
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’

Replace the top dressing on your succulent arrangement before bringing it inside for the winter

There was also quite a bit of dirt out the outside of most of my pots. I wiped down all around the pot and along the bottom to make sure they’d be clean for the move inside.

You’ll also want to check for bugs. I don’t usually have problems with mealybugs with my outdoor plants, but it’s definitely something to look for.

Also look for any other little bugs running around your plants. I know at my house ants and roly poly bugs love to hang out in my pots. I’ve seen quite a few spiders lately too. Since I don’t want those inside, I try to make sure there aren’t any hiding in my plants.

Its also a good idea to remove as many dead leaves as possible from my succulents before bringing them inside. This helps them to be healthier once they are indoors and they look nicer too! Removing the dead leaves isn’t essential, but it does promote better air flow around the plant.

Remove dead leaves from succulents before bringing them inside for the winter

(Crested Echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’)

If any of your succulents have died over the summer, now is a good time to fill in the holes. This arrangement stayed looking great over the summer, except for one monocarpic succulent that bloomed and then left a big hole.

I filled in the hole with a few succulent cuttings and it looks complete again! I also added some top dressing since it didn’t have any.

Fill in gaps in a succulent arrangement before bringing it inside for the winter

Make sure you know how to take care of your succulents over the winter!
Aloe, Crassula perforata, Cotelydon tomentosa, Sempervivum ‘Green Wheel’, Sedum nussbaumerianum, Echeveria ‘Blue Rose’

Winter Watering for Succulents

Many succulents are dormant in the winter so they won’t need as much water. Some are actively growing though and will need more attention. This is the best list I’ve found of winter vs summer dormant succulents (the list is about half way down the page).

Check to see which your succulents are so you know how to care for them better. You can also check out this post if you need help identifying your succulents.

If your succulents are winter growers they will likely need to be watered more often. My Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ always seems to be a water hog over the winter. As a general rule though, you’ll only want to water your plants when the soil is completely dry. This is why it’s so important to have a well draining soil and a drainage hole.

The airflow indoors isn’t as good as it is outside so without the proper soil it’s very likely your succulents will stay wet for too long. Keep in mind that succulents near a heating vent might dry out more quickly as the direct air and warmer temperatures can dry things out more quickly.

Learn how to properly water succulents in the winter
Crassula arborescens undulatifolia, Haworthia reinwardtii, Sedum clevatum

Don't let your succulents die because you don't know how to properly water them!

Plenty of Sunlight

One of the things that is most difficult about growing succulents indoors, especially over the winter, is giving them enough sunlight. You’ll want to place your succulents near the brightest window in your home. Ideally the window will get bright, indirect sunlight all day.

Since the winter days are shorter this is especially important. Succulents need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day to maintain their shape.

I’ve tried using grow lights which definitely helps. It can be a good way to supplement the natural sunlight, but you’ll need several lights to make much of a difference. Make sure you don’t run the lights 24/7 as succulents do need darkness at night to complete their regular growth cycle.

If you notice your succulents stretching or turning toward the window or light source, that is a sign they aren’t getting enough light. Sometimes this is inevitable during the winter. If you do see them start to lean like this, simply turn the pot around to straighten them out.

Succulents will lean toward the light if they aren't getting enough
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’

Often succulents will get tall and “leggy” or stretched out over the winter. This is from not enough sunlight. At the end of the winter you can cut off the top and propagate it! Then you’ll have even more plants for the summer!

Since most succulents aren’t growing as quickly over the winter, this is best done in the spring. For more details on how to do this, you can check out my post on stretching succulents here.

In reality, caring for succulents indoors over the winter isn’t a lot different than any other time of year. You’ll always want to make sure you are watering properly and have great succulent soil. I know I’ve said that at least 3 times in this post, but it really is so important!

If you have any questions about winter care of succulents that I haven’t answered here, please leave a comment below or send me an email. I’m happy to help!

Get this great ebook about caring for succulents indoors and solve your succulent growing cares!

118 Responses to Caring for Succulents in Winter

  1. I have a couple of pots on my front porch filled with succulents. We had a cold snap over the weekend (from 60s down to 18 degrees!!) and I just noticed today that they are all wilted :( I don’t know what to do. The leaves are swelled with water, and mushy. They don’t smell but I’m worried I can’t save them. I’ve brought them inside but not sure how to perk them back up. Help!!

    • Let them dry out for quite a few days. The leaves need time to heal before they are watered again. Freezing causes the plant cells to explode or break so they need time to repair before getting water again. You can also run a fan on them to help aid with air circulation.

  2. Not alot of info on how to actually care for succulents in the article, it was mostly basic info on how to cleanly bring your pots in for the winter. I was looking for info such as, how often to water?,lots of sun or shaded area. And so on.

  3. Hello! Thanks for all the helpful tips. Can you please post a new link for the winter vs. summer dormancy table? The current link gives me an error or “dead end”. Thanks!

  4. Hi! Thanks for the article. I was hoping to find some information regarding placing the overwintering succulents (and cacti) back outside. Would you have to go through the “hardening-off” process, or can they go straight back into the sun.

    Thanks!

    • If your succulents are going to go back into full sun, then I recommend easing them into it, for small amounts at a time. This way your plants won’t overheat or sunburn quickly/

  5. I have a whole pile of succulents in pots that I don’t want to lose over the winter. We get a lot of snow and very cold temperatures (Thunder Bay Ontario) They are all perennial succulents – but I have never had perennials in pots. What is the best way to care for them as the cold temps start to hit?

    • Try keeping them in a covered area, in case it snows where you are at. You will not need to water the succulents as much as you would in the summer.

  6. Hi,

    I just received over 200 succulents for my wedding next saturday. I placed them in trays in my basement so they are not in direct sunlight. I did water them. I was going to leave them down there until the wedding but not sure if i should put them outside for some sun? What do you recommend??

    • It would not be a bad idea to maybe put them in the shade outside for a little bit but they should be just fine until the wedding.

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Growing succulents indoors is tricky business if you don’t know the proper soil, sunlight and watering requirements. But you can make succulents work for you, you just need to know the right way to care for them! Follow my step-by-step instructions and watch your worries float away and your succulents thrive, year after year :)

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Wondering who I am?

Let me introduce myself... My name is Cassidy Tuttle and I’m a professional photographer turned succulent addict. These are my two sweet children and wonderful husband in the photo with me!

My adventure with succulents started with three small plants on the window sill of my basement apartment. Within a year I had propagated them and purchased more, totaling over 100 plants!

It’s been a fun adventure since then as I’ve drowned, burned, frozen, and starved my collection of succulents. This site is where I teach you how to avoid all those mistakes I made or help you recover from them.

While I’ve killed plenty of succulents in the last few years, I’ve also kept hundreds alive and thriving, and I know you can do the same!

Did I mention I wrote the book on succulents?

It’s true! I’m the author of Idiot’s Guides: Succulents which is designed to help those of us who love succulents (but are limited to growing on our window sills and porches) keep our succulents looking great.

You can purchase my book through my Amazon affiliate link here or pick it up at your local Barnes and Noble.

If printed books aren’t your thing, I’ve also written several ebooks about succulents on various topics including indoor growing, watering and propagating. You can check those out on this page.

My goal is to help you not just keep your succulents alive, but help them thrive no matter where you live.

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff!

I’m impressed you’ve made it this far down. You should probably be rewarded for that…

How about some bite sized succulent tips delivered daily to your inbox?

I’m sure you’ll love my 30 Days of Quick Succulent Tips email series. Each day I’ll send you a 2-3 sentence tip about growing succulents along with a photo and link to learn more.

Sound good?

 

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