When and Why your succulents need to come inside in winter

A quick guide on preserving your succulent in winter [7 things to consider]

Your succulents in Winter: extra-care

Having plants in your house/bedroom has infinite benefits. They don't only decorate the place but boost your mood, productivity, concentration, creativity, reduce your stress, fatigue, sore throats, and colds; help clean indoor air by absorbing toxins, increasing humidity & producing oxygen.

For a couple of years succulents had been on-trend, and why not? They’re the perfect plants, they survive different climates, they do not need much care and they look great. Plus, there are hundreds of kinds of succulents, so you have options for every kind of person. 

Succulent plants are usually plants from arid climates or soil conditions and they store water in various structures, such as leaves and stems. So, in general, winter is not a natural climate for them. And that’s pretty much why they need to get an extra-care in winter, especially if you live in a hard winter area. 

Why my succulent need to come inside in winter?

The reason why not to expose your succulent plant to freezing temperature is simple: they store water inside their leaves, trunks, and stems, and with cold, water freeze, expand, and bursting through the cells’ membrane, killing the plant.

Note that there is some kind of succulent which are cold hardy, this means that they’re Cold & Frost Tolerant, they even get brighter colors with this kind of weather, and they survive temperatures as cold as -20F. One of the most famous ones is Sempervivum. So if this is your case, don’t even worry about taking extra care. And, if you don’t know what kind of succulent you have, just do a little research online. You’ll find a bunch of information, and even apps and forums where with a picture of your succulent other people can tell you its name and family.

 Succulent plants on a table

Remember, if you don’t want to take responsibility for a plant (even a succulent), you can always get artificial ones. They are tons of kinds of artificial plants, for really affordable prices, like this one. They will decorate your house and you will have to, well, do nothing but remove the dirt now and then. 

So, leaving that aside, let’s take a tour of the best tips to care for your little plant. 

Learning about Growing Zone

Have you heard this term before? Also known as Hardiness Zone, is a geographic area defined to enclose a certain range of climatic conditions relevant to plant growth and survival. This is used by gardeners to compare the garden climate with the climate where a plant is known to grow well, it’s like a climate guide for growing plants. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed a system that defines 13 zones by annual extreme minimum temperature. Each zone is 10F colder or hotter than the next one. Not just zones are classified, but plants as well. This means you’ll find terms like “Hardy to zone 10”, meaning that your plant will resist those temperatures. 

The latest version of the map was made in 2012. Before that version, we were using de 1990 version. So, the 2012 map is using data from 1976-2005, this means a 30-year period. So it’s pretty accurate.

Map of growing zone by USDA

To find your zone, just type on Google “growing zone by zip code”, there are a bunch of online apps where with just your zip code you’ll figure out what it’s your zone. The higher the number, the warmer the zone. Inside the US most warm zones are from 9-11, leaving zone 12 and 13 to Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and lower zones are (obviously) found in Alaska, down to 1.

Zone 0 goes from −65 °F to -60 °F, zone 1 from -60 °F to −50 °F, zone to 2 from −50 °F to −40 °F, and so on till zone 13 with temperatures from 60 °F to 70 °F and more.

So, back to our succulents….

You will need to play a little trick on the plant. Your succulent will know winter is coming because it is sensing shorter days and lower temperatures, so bringing your plant indoors before winter comes will make them think it’s not getting that cold. This process it’s called: winterize your succulent.

First step: Research

Find out what is the appropriate growing zone for your succulent. The rule is to bring in any succulent rated higher than your zone. If you live in Zone 5, and your succulent is Hardy to zone 9, it won’t survive the cold outside. Only a few succulents are rated from 11-13. So, make your research and compare, to determine if the weather is appropriate for your succulent and you have to do nothing, or if you have to take extra care.

When?

Well, it depends on how is the winter at your location, so it’s hard to tell an exact date. Just try to do it before the first frost, when fall comes around, start winterizing your plant, leaving it outdoors for the day and bringing it in when the sun is coming down. And when the frost came, leave them inside.

If you completely have no idea what type of succulent you have, keep in mind that most succulent survive pretty well above 60 °F, but famous succulents like Echeveria, Crassula, and Aloe will need frost protection when the temp drops below 45 Fahrenheit degrees.

Soil

Succulents in pots on a wall

Use cactus soil or mix potting soil with sand, pumice, or perlite. Succulent soils

need excellent draining, so the regular soil won’t do. Succulents need the right soil and container, which need to have drain holes.

Removing dead things

Remove any dead organic material that might be around your plants like debris, dirt, leaves, or cobweb. It not only brings dirt to your house, but it can also make your succulent roots infected.

You will also want to remove from the plant itself any dead leaves it might have.  This will help prevent your succulent from rotting indoors.

Watering

Succulent’s growth kind of stops during winter and activates in summer. Remember, this doesn’t apply to every succulent, this is why is so important to know the kind of plant you have in your hands.

So, if your succulent is a winter grower, it will require frequent watering.

In general, only water your plant when the soil is completely dry. Water your plant once every week or even every two weeks. Keep in mind that is not the same airflow indoors, so the soil will take longer in getting dry. Don’t ever over-water your succulent, is the easiest way to kill it.

Sunlight

It’s well known that succulents need sunlight to survive. They need up to 6 hours outdoors of sun daily to properly growing. Inside, they’ll need more, up to 8 hours.

This is one of the most challenging things to do in winter. Place your plant in a place where it receives sunlight all day, this place will probably be near the brightest window. If your plant isn’t receiving enough light, it will likely lean toward the window. Just rotate the succulent to correct the leaning, but keep in mind that this means that the plant needs more sunlight.

Frost

If your succulent’s in a temperature it can’t resist, it will start to frost. Frost damage take from 2-3 days to show up, so your succulent may be hurting, and outside looks ok. This is why is so important to know how much cold your succulent can survive, but In doubt, it’s better to prevent.

 

So, now you are prepared to take good care of your succulent in cold weather. Are you a plant person o you prefer artificial plants?

 


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