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.

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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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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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!


2017-10-07T04:23:49+00:00

134 Comments

  1. Mallory September 5, 2017 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Hi, I’m in college and I brought my succulents. I have two and they’re in separate jars. I’ve kept them alive for two years but I’m worried since I’ve moved to a colder place that they won’t survive the winter. I live in a dorm room with one window. Any tips???

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team September 6, 2017 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      If you notice your succulents looking a bit stretched, you might consider a grow light. Natural sunlight is of course best, but if they’re too cold by the window, this may be a good option for you.

  2. Judith Roberts September 14, 2017 at 5:22 am - Reply

    I have some echeveria planted in a gabion outside. If I put horticultural fleece on them over winter, will they survive

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team September 14, 2017 at 9:39 am - Reply

      Echeveria are cold hardy, and should be ok outside. What zone are you in?

  3. Allison October 12, 2017 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    I have a pachyphytum oviferum and an aloe. Both I’ve had over over 2 years and they’ve done very well so far with me and have grown very strong and sturdy. However, I moved to a 1 bedroom apartment near Seattle and it’s nearing winter. Both of these guys are winter growers, but I fear the upcoming cold will be too much for them. However, I cannot bring them inside as I have 2 cats and there is no place safe for them to stay.

    What would be a good suggestion, if you had any? I love my plants and don’t want harm to come to them.

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 13, 2017 at 5:52 pm - Reply

      There’s a few things that might work for you. You could place an old sheet or a frost guard over them to protect them. Some people have success with covering their outdoor succulents with leaves, so that could also be a good option for you. If none of those suggestions work, is it possible to put them in a hanging basket inside, where your cat can’t reach? Best of luck! :)

  4. Carol October 14, 2017 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    I have some succulent leaves sitting on soil. It’s mid-October in North Carolina so winter is not far off. We currently have 12 hour days and I have some grow lights on them about 3 hours a day to encourage growth. My question is do they need as much light as developed plants in winter?

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 16, 2017 at 10:17 am - Reply

      Light is so important for your propagating leaves, just as important as it is for a full-grown plant. A grow light should be perfect for them.

  5. Pete October 16, 2017 at 4:21 am - Reply

    Just a note – When bringing in my cactus one year, I saw a spider web & a slight opening between branches, just to be safe, I poked the opening with a thin stick & watched to see if anything would happen. Sure did, out comes a black spider, with the bright red hour glass- a black widow. So be careful when you bring your plants in.

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team October 16, 2017 at 10:13 am - Reply

      Oh dear! Good thinking! Thank you for sharing!

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