Keeping Succulents Happy for Winter

The wind is (finally) starting to get its bite and El Nino is forecasted to come soon.  With daylight getting shorter by the day, winter is definitely on its way.  Make sure your succulents are safe from the elements during the cold period with these handy-dandy tips!

Some succulents are used to the cold cycles of night.  For those that have their succulents set up in higher altitudes or further away from the coast however, freezing temps might be more of an issue.  

"Above-Ground" Succulents:  Succulents kept in pots should be moved indoors or into a greenhouse for the winter.  The nature of having their roots confined within a tight space above the ground (in a pot) means there's little buffer space for keeping the cold temperatures (below ~55F) from compromising the plant.  Smaller succulents are especially susceptible to frost.  Most succulents cannot tolerate outdoor temps hitting 30F and below.

"In-Ground"  Succulents:  Your desert beauties planted in the ground should be ok during the cold.  After all, desert temperatures are quite extreme and your succulent (especially if it's a native) should innately know how to deal with this given the ample ground space for their body and roots to allocate resources efficiently.  The rule on size still matters: smaller plants with less than a 4" diameter (especially if isolated from others) are more susceptible.

As always, keep watering for succulents to a minimum.  Go even less during the cold months as some succulents will go into dormancy due to the shortened days.  Most times, a couple of pumps with a mister toward the soil near your potted plant in the morning about once a month will suffice.  Morning waterings are highly preferential so that any remaining moisture from the watering doesn't affect your plant come freezing nightfall temps.  Succulents are night breathers anyway so prevent water from clogging up your plant's pores by watering earlier.  This also ought to keep your succulents safe from rot since heat from daylight will aid in evaporation.

It's even better if you observe the plant for signs of desiccation first before giving any water.  Note, if your plant isn't potted in a gritty mix (like our "House Gritty Mix"), make sure that the soil doesn't dry up to the point that it puckers.

Update 11/2/15: It's raining!  If the rain keeps going (hopefully), be sure to keep potted succulents where it'll have an opportunity to dry.  Remember: succulents are so efficient at storing water that a prolonged excess will kill 'em.

More is better becomes mantra for light exposure.  Maximize the amount of bright light that your potted succulents get as they should be getting at least 4 hours of bright light daily.  (As for In-Ground succulents... well that's a different story.)  With the daylight becoming more gentle around this time, direct light becomes highly desired.  Light intake is optimal when you place plants at a Southern exposure.

Succulents change pigmentation drastically around this time.  The cold weather causes stress that induces the plants to elicit these vibrant color changes.

Keep in mind that these are general measures for keeping a wide variety of succulents safe for the winter.  Of course, learning your plant's name and its geographic origins will definitely better aid you in tailoring care for your prized plant.

Need a refresher on the basics of raising your succulents?  Check out our care page.