How Are Your Succulents Doing? Winter Care

Did you bring in your beautiful succulent planter in hopes of keeping it alive in order to enjoy it again next summer?

It’s been a few months since the warm days of summer.  Sadly, spring is still many days into the future and we still can expect cold days, winter storms before we work outside in our gardens. 

This article is a brief summary of tips in order to check and care for your succulents to make sure some or all of them survive these long cold and dark winter months. Many of you have brought your succulent plants indoors in order to keep them going and growing for the next season.  

In our homes the air is dry and our furnaces are running on and off all day and night to keep our homes warm and cozy. The days are short and this year we have had cloudy and overcast days which can prevent the plants from getting adequate light.

 So, if you haven’t already checked your succulents, now would be a good time to determine if they need some moisture to carry them through the remainder of the winter.

It’s important to remember that not all succulents are the same.  Some are more tender and the water/light requirements are more difficult to maintain in our homes.  Just understand that you may not have success with all varieties.  The ideal conditions are difficult to maintain in our homes, but with some knowledge of the requirements that succulents need, you can be successful.  Two key ingredients are necessary for succulents: Light and watering control.

Here are tips to keep them in the best condition indoors:

  1. LOCATION:  Where would succulents do the best in my house?
    • Keep them in the sunniest location in your home.  In Canada we have very a short-day length so this is important.
    • Light is a key element as one of the needs for succulents.  It brings in the chlorophyll and helps bring in light energy from the sun. 
    • Some succulents will begin to stretch and reach for the sun, even though they are in a lighted area.  
  2. WATER:  How often and how should I water?
    • Some succulents need less water than others.  The general rule is the plants with the thicker leaves need less water than then ones with thin leaves. Water is stored in the leaves in preparation for periods of drought.
    • Look at the soil. 
      • The soil should look and feel dry and begin to pull away from the sides of the container. Over-watering is the most common problem in losing succulents. The soil needs to be dry all the way to the bottom of the container.  Be completely convinced that the soil is completely dry before you water.  
    • Look at the plants. Are the leaves starting to wrinkle? This is a sign that they are asking for water.  There may be some dry leaves at the bottom of the plant.  These can be removed.
    • How much and how often should I water? 
      •  Water until the soil is completely wet, but not oversaturated.  If they are sitting in water this is likely to cause problems. Do not water again until completely dry.
      • The frequency may vary from household and to the size of the plants and container and the amount of light the plant receives.
      • It’s important that the plant container has good drainage. Do not let the succulents sit in water, but when you do water, water thoroughly.

Succulents will best survive through “benign neglect”.  Too much interference with watering in winter may cause problems and disease as well as invitation for insects.  Although the plants may not look their best in your home, they may just be in a dormant stage, waiting for the sun to return in order to begin growth. 

That’s it.  Caring for succulents in winter is relatively easy and once the days become longer and warmer you will notice improvements and the plants may be ready for pruning and replanting if required.  Buts that’s a topic for another day.