How to Care for Succulents in the Winter

Winter brings with it specific needs for your succulents. To ensure they survive, you have to tailor your care to these demands and sometimes harsh conditions.

It could be as simple as that, tailoring your succulent care to the cold environment.

But then NOT all succulents will be having the same demands during this season—there are different types of succulents so there will be different types of care routines as well.

So, before having a look at the specific practices you need to adhere to in taking care of succulents in the winter, knowing the types of succulentsyou’re nurturing is a good starting point. Let’s get to it!

Types of Succulents

For the purpose of this guide, succulents are of 2 types: hard succulents and soft succulents.

  • Hardy Succulents – refers to a group of succulents tolerant to both frost and very low temperatures. They thrive best outdoors.
  • Soft/ Tender Succulents – these are succulents that can’t bare being in contact with frost and extremely low temperatures.

The temperature aspect here brings on a new twist – for both of these types, the value beyond which they cannot survive varies.

And given that different areas have varied (minimum) temperature readings, you need to be sure your place of residence is ideal for that particular succulent.

How to Determine Your Zone

Determining your area is a straightforward process. By doing this you will ensure that you buy or obtain the right succulents that is capable of thriving in your particular zone’s environment.

Simply head over to  USDA plant hardiness to find out whether you have winter succulents or more summer succulents. Type in your zip code and you’ll find the zone in which your area falls, denoted by Zone “value”, e.g. Zone 5.

To tell if a succulent is ideal, you’re going to compare the value given above and that of the plant. As a general rule, the value of the plant should be lower than that of the area for outdoor growth all-year round.

Take Phoenix, Arizona as an example. It is rated Zone 9. That means that all succulents rated Zone 1-9 can comfortably survive outside during winter. Anything above that will have to be taken inside when the season comes knocking.

Caring for Your Succulents in the Winter

As you’ve already seen above, the winter-caring regimen will depend on the type of plant; hardy or soft.

Caring for Hardy Succulents in Winter

  1. Be sure to nip off dry leaves – dry leaves are part of a normally developing succulent plant. The plant sheds them and simultaneously grows new ones. But in winter, when the conditions are cold and wet, these dead parts take in huge amounts of moisture which can cause rot and disease to the whole plant. So make sure they are gone as soon as they show up.
  2. Shelter from water – you’re definitely going to reduce your watering frequency during winter. But it’s also important that you stop any other water from coming in contact with your hardy succulent. Usually snow is a good enough cover, but consider moving your plants under a cover in case it is absent. This way, you avert the rot that comes from prolonged exposure to wetness.
  3. Consider transplanting – this is a step you should take several months prior to winter to ensure roots have adapted and the succulent is well-developed. Instead of leaving them in pots, put your plants into the ground as it offers better conditions. In the event that you come up short on time, move your plants to a location with a few hours of sunlight and free from rain or any other source of water.

Caring for Soft Succulents in Winter

  1. Transfer your succulents indoors – one characteristic of tender succulents is that they don’t survive in frost and extremely low temperatures. Leave them outside to battle these two and you won’t have them a few weeks into the season. Bring them inside where temperatures are fair to them and the frost non-existent. They’ll thank you for that.
  2. Reduce the watering frequency – the soil is drying up slowly because of the winter and the fact that your pots are in-house. If you keep up with the same watering routine, you run the risk of losing your plants to rot. For this reason, your watering should be well spread-out for the soil to dry up completely which allows your soft succulents to thrive.
  3. Ensure maximum light exposure – sunshine is going to be a scarce resource during this time. Also, the fact that your plants are indoors, means there is little exposure to the already reduced sunshine. If you can, place your plants near a window – a sunny one at that – and make sure to rotate the pots so that your plants don’t bend or fade due to light coming from only one side. In absence of an appropriate window, consider investing in a grow light.
  4. Maintain steady airflow – you need to keep the air moving so as to dry up the potting mix fast, which further averts rot and pest infestation. Just open the windows to let the wind in or make use of fans. You can always combine both for enhanced results.

General Care for All Succulents in Winter

Forget about fertilizer (for now)

Most succulents are at a dormant stage during the winter seasons. With that said, refrain from trying to force feed any nutrients by applying fertilizers (homemade or store bought). Fertilizer during this time period will lead to soft leaves that are susceptible to rot.

Note: There are a few varieties of succulents that keep growing during the winter seasons. Therefore, it is best that you keep applying fertilizer for such plants even during this time.

Watch out for pests

Especially bugs that appear like tiny cotton balls on the underside of your succulent’s leaves. It’s safe to assume you know what pests can do to your precious succulent plants right?

First, remember to keep the affected plant away from the rest to curb or control the spread of the pests like mealybugs or scale insects. Afterwards, eliminate them by spraying the plant with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water.

Read how you can safely get rid of mealy bugs or other pests here, we’ve provided an in depth article for you.

Aim for some light

Winter is a period of time where there is reduced sunlight. With that said, keep in mind that you should try to expose your succulent plants with enough light at least 3 hours per day for continued healthy development.

If you’re living in places where the guaranteed sunlight is less than 3 hours day, you might want to take a look at getting your succulent a grow light of some sort. This will help you guarantee light for your succulent in order to steadily grow.


In a nutshell, your succulents plants will not fall on the way side if you’re properly caring for it with the conditions it is presented during the winter. Follow the simple routines we’ve outlined above and rest assured that your succulent will continue growing even in less admirable conditions.

Incorporate the above steps and let us know how your succulents grow during the winter, take pictures too! Thanks for reading our article and happy planting!

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Did this article help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on Best Lighting Practices for Succulent Growth or even The Correct Way to Water Succulents today!

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