Learn how to successfully move your indoor succulents outside when the weather warms up! Indoor succulents will benefit from the outside air and extra sun!
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You may have noticed that succulents growing outdoors often seem to be healthier and prettier than those grown indoors. The two biggest reasons for this are more sunlight (which prevents stretching) and better airflow (allowing the roots to dry out more quickly).
I highly recommend taking your indoor succulents outside for the summer, at least for a little while.
As you do so however, there are a few things to keep in mind.
When to plant succulents in the spring
First off, if you're wanting to plant new succulents outside, when is it too early to do so?
Generally it's best to wait until after the last frost and when the nights don't drop below 40F. While you could plant some succulents outside before then, you'll find the best success with planting when the weather is warmer.
Avoid waiting until summer though, as the heat can cause just as many problems as the cold. Look for weather that is between 50-70F to plant your succulents outside.
Ease them into the sunlight and heat
Since there is much more sunlight outdoors it's very easy to burn your succulents with too much sunlight or too much heat. Start your succulents in an area that gets full shade and gradually move them into an area with more sunlight.
Succulents that are larger and have a more established root system will tolerate more light and heat more easily. On the other hand, newly planted succulents will need to be kept in the shade longer.
Try adding an hour or two of sunlight each week. Morning sun is cooler and is best for succulents.
Make sure you know there is actually shade all day! I burned a bunch of plants when I moved mine out this year. I have a wire rack on the east side of my house where I generally keep my succulents. The roof hangs over the rack so I assumed it was shaded most of the day.
While I knew it got some morning sun, I didn't realize it gets full sun until about 1:00 PM. This was way too much sun for most of my plants, especially the leaves I was propagating.
So, learn from my mistake and keep them completely in the shade for a few days while they get used the extra light and warmer temperatures. After a few days in full shade move them to an area that gets morning sun. Wait a few more days and then move them to their permanent home.
Watch for early signs of sunburn such as bleaching or extreme color change. If you see these signs, move your succulents back to an area with more shade.
Spring is a great time to fertilize succulents. Most are coming out of dormancy and are ready to grow. A little food will help them regain their color and produce healthy new offshoots!
Use Pot Feet
Rather than placing your pots directly on the ground, make sure to use pot feet or place them on something like my wire rack to allow for water drainage and airflow. Check out my post on using pot feet for more details!
It's quite likely your succulents have really stretched out over the winter. Echeverias seem to get especially stretched out while Aloes tend to keep their shape better. Now is a great time to chop of the top of the succulent and propagate it!
For more details about propagating, check out my ebook.
Repot if necessary
If your succulent grew much larger over the winter, or if some plants sharing the same pot died, you'll likely want to repot your plants. Dump out the old soil, remove as much soil from the roots as you can. Clean out the pots with soapy water (then rinse out) or spray with isopropyl alcohol, and replant them with fresh new soil!
If your succulents have been growing in the same pot for a while they'll also appreciate the new soil and clean home. It's always nice to have freshly potted succulents for the summer.
Watch for bugs
Mealybugs love quickly growing plants. Keep an eye out for these nasty bugs after you move your plants out. Ants tend to spread mealybugs from plant to plant.
If you do see mealybugs, kill them by pouring alcohol on them. You can see my full tutorial for combating mealybugs here.
You may also notice other critters start to find your plants. Snails and slugs love succulents and will completely destroy them if given the chance. Squirrels, raccoons, birds, dogs and cats seem to enjoy playing with succulents as well. The bigger animals can be hard to deter and may force you to bring your plants back in. Any outdoor time is better than none though!
As you are bringing your plants out for the summer, keep these things in mind. I can tell you from experience it's sad and frustrating to kill off plants from not paying attention to their needs.
Your plants will really benefit from the fresh air and a little more sunlight, so it's worth moving them out!
Be sure to keep them out of full sun for a while, fertilize, propagate, repot if necessary and watch out for bugs and pests!