Caring for succulents in winter doesn't have to keep you guessing! In this post you'll learn how to properly care for your succulents indoors over the winter, along with some tips for your outdoor succulent garden.
Based on where you live and the types of succulents you are growing, your succulents may not be able to stay outside year round.
If you do have tender succulents (those that can't handle freezing climates) and live in a climate with snow or many nights of freezing temperatures, you'll need to bring your succulents inside in order for them to survive.
When should I bring my succulents inside for winter?
This is largely determined, again, by where you live and what you're growing. As a general rule, you'll want to bring your succulents in before the first frost. For many people in the US this is at the end of September.
It's important to know what growing zone you live in. At the least you should know the average low temperature for your area. For example: when I lived in Utah we were a Zone 5. Most of the succulents I owned at the time were for Zone 9.
All succulents rated higher than Zone 5 can't survive the cold, and need to be indoors for the winter.
Since I currently live in the Phoenix area, a Zone 9, most of my succulents are fine outdoors year round. There are only a few succulents rated to a Zone 10 or 11 that will need to spend the winter inside.
This video will also help you determine if your succulents need to be brought indoors for the winter:
Moving Outdoor Succulents Inside
While you may be growing succulents inside all year round, succulents will benefit from being outside for at least part of the summer. Here's a check list to make sure the move from outside to inside goes as smoothly as possible:
Since it can be a hassle to water succulents indoors (bringing them all to the sink, waiting for them to stop dripping, etc.) water them one last time outside.
Try watering them 2-3 days before bringing them inside. This allows them to soak up the water they need and start to dry out. Then your shelf or table stays 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. It's a good idea to wipe off the outside of the pot to remove any dirt, leaves or cobwebs that have become attached to the pot.
Also be sure to remove any debris, such as dead leaves, from around or between your succulents. Dead organic material can easily cause your succulents to rot or become infected.
I love my mini tool kit to help with this process! Once you've removed anything that doesn't belong, you can also add in or replace the top dressing to help the arrangement look extra cleaned up.
You don't want any visitors when you move your succulents inside. Inspect your succulents closely for signs of mealybugs, the most common succulent pest.
Also look for any other little bugs around your plants. I know at my house ants and potato bugs love to hang out in my pots. I see spiders frequently as well.
Try to remove these little guys as much as possible to keep your succulents healthier indoors.
Refresh the arrangement
As your succulent grows it's going to start shedding leaves. It's always a good idea to keep your succulents well pruned and maintained. This is especially important before bringing succulents in for the winter.
Use your fingers or the tweezers from the mini garden tool kit to remove as many of the dead leaves as possible. This will help prevent your succulent from rotting indoors.
If any of your succulents have died over the summer, now is a great time to fill in the holes. The arrangement below stayed looking great over the summer, except for one monocarpic succulent. After it bloomed, it left a big hole.
Now that your succulents are inside, it's time to start taking care of them!
Many succulents are dormant in the winter so they won't need as much water. However, some are actively growing and will need more attention.
I have an entire post on dormancy that includes a list of which succulents are winter growers and which are summer growers. Click here to read it and determine if your succulents are actively growing or dormant in winter.
The airflow indoors is more limited than outside so without the proper soil it's very likely your succulents will stay wet for too long. Watering too frequently is the quickest way to kill your succulent.
Keep in mind that succulents near a heating vent might need more frequent watering. The direct air and warmer temperatures can dry things out more quickly.