Winter Care of Succulents

“I live in Zone 8a, and I’ve got a lot of succulent plants that do well in hot temperatures. While we don’t get much freezing weather, it does happen sometimes. How should I take care of succulents during the cold winter months?” -Meredith

If you are planting winter-hardy varieties, such as Sedum (Sedum sp.), Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum sp.), Ice Plant (Delosperma sp.), Lewisia (Lewisia sp.), or Yucca (Yucca sp.), you shouldn’t have to worry about any extra winter care. You may see them begin to wither, shrink, or change color as cold weather approaches, but this is part of their normal winter routine. These plants withstand freezing temperatures, with some varieties hardy down to zone 3.

For less hardy varieties, the problem during the winter is the deadly combination of cold temperatures and waterlogged, soggy soil from rains and snow melt. Many varieties will withstand colder temperatures if the soil can be kept dry enough. Some tips for caring for tender succulents during freezing weather include:

  • Keep the soil as dry as possible. Stop supplemental watering and feeding around late fall.
  • Be sure there is adequate air circulation, to keep the winter dampness at bay.
  • Plant succulents in sheltered areas if your winters are rainy – a good spot might be a sunny location underneath the eaves or porch.
  • Make sure your soil has good drainage – if you notice soggy soil around your succulents during wet weather, you need to improve the conditions to help your plant survive. Add sand, well-draining organic matter, or a product such as Perma-Till to increase water drainage.
  • Cover tender plants when freezing temperatures are forecasted. You can use fabric covers, bushel baskets, or purchased frost covers. Just make sure the covers do not touch the leaves, and don’t keep them covered any longer than necessary – they need air circulation and sunlight.
  • Don’t remove snow cover – it’s a good insulator.
  • Julie

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Backed by his 40-year remodeling career, Danny served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s The Early Show and The Weather Channel for more than a decade. His extensive hands-on experience and understanding of the industry make him the go-to source for all things having to do with the home – from advice on simple repairs, to complete remodels, to helping homeowners prepare their homes for extreme weather and seasons.