Spring is right around the corner! The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, the bees are busy pollinating and the days are getting longer. A lot of your succulents should be getting ready to wake up, while some are getting ready to slow their growth down as it gets hotter. But why do some of your succulents look great in summer, while others look great in autumn?
During the hottest parts of the year, Echeveria and Lithops get ready to put on a show, while in February your Kalanchoe are growing like crazy. Why is that exactly? Well, it’s because succulents, like all plants, have different growing seasons. (Even spring has it’s own uniqueness too)!
We refer to these as “summer growers” and “winter growers”, and knowing the difference can not only help you to better care for your plants, but it’s advantageous when potting arrangements to get a flower show year round from your succulents!
So what exactly are the summer growers and winter growers, and how should you care for them? Let’s find out!
Summer Dormant Succulent Species (Winter Growers)
These are a few popular succulents that love it when the temperatures drop! While no succulent appreciates true winter and lots of snow, these generally start to wake up around September and grow until snowfall, then rest a bit until February and continuing to grow vigorously until May.
Popular Winter Growers
Aeonium ‘Kiwi’ is an essential winter grower! With striking, vibrant pink and yellow rosette’s, they are easy to grow and multiply quickly during their growing season.
‘Opalina’ is a common hybrid between Echeveria ‘colorata’ and Graptopetalum amethystinum. With chunky, opalescent, powdery leaves, they are an easy growing succulent that will reward you with lots of babies when cared for properly.
Sedum Morganianum— “Donkey Tail”
Arguably one of the most popular succulents in the world, these trailing Sedums are essential for everyone’s garden. Almost resembling long, chunky hair, these Sedums will grow fast and long, and are very easy to propagate.
Winter Dormant Succulent Species (Summer Growers)
These are just a few of the more popular succulent species that thrive in warmer temperatures, usually going dormant from late October to mid February. It’s important to note that when succulents go “dormant”, that it’s more of a slow growing period than a true dormancy. So while you may see growth year round, the specific growing season of certain species determines how much growth you see as well as blooming periods.
Popular Summer Growers
Lola’s are a gorgeous, easy-to-grow succulent that will give you gorgeous colors year round! With a compact rosette, bright pink tips, and pastel pink on the underside of their leaves, they’re a great addition to anyone’s garden!
Agave Attenuata— “Variegata”
Agave attenuata ‘Variegata’ is a striking addition to anyone’s landscape. This is one of those succulents that you can truly let nature take care of, especially in warmer climates. They shoot out large, towering blooms that more closely resemble an alien planets landscape than a succulent bloom!
An extremely common Euphorbia, they are very tolerant of extreme sun and temperatures. Take care when repotting/propagating, as the white sap they released when damaged can lead to skin irritation and potentially blindness! It is recommended to repot/propagate with gloves and goggles.
How to Care for Summer & Winter Succulents
So what does this mean in terms of caring for your succulents? Well, it’s fairly simple. Whether you have a winter grower or a summer grower will determine how much you water and when.
For summer growers like Echeveria, they prefer a lot more water during the hotter months, and very scarce amounts during winter. On the contrary, Sedums, an extremely popular succulent and winter grower, will need a lot more water during chillier months, and less when it’s hot out.
Not too hard to care for right? Now here’s where things get interesting. When it comes to succulent arrangements, mixing and matching winter growers and summer growers can result in a year long psychedelic show of colors and blooms, especially when you throw some cacti in the mix! But since summer and winter growers require different watering schedules, how do you keep them together and alive?
Well, it’s important to look at exactly HOW you water your succulents. Do you hose them down, soaking them fully? What about watering around the base of each succulent with a pipette or small watering can? Do you just let nature take care of them?
When it comes to succulent arrangements, whether they have drainage or not, it’s always best to water around the base of each succulent, as compared to soaking the entire arrangement. That way, you’re able to meet the needs of each individual plant more precisely.
Read how you can repot your succulents so that no matter if it’s summer or winter, your succulent can grow healthily and vibrant.
When arranging summer and winter growers in a singular arrangement, it’s often times a lot easier to separate them, giving you the ability to water one side more during summer, and one side more during winter. This will also make it easier to fertilize, as you can simply inoculate one side with nutrients, letting the other side stay relatively unfertilized until it’s time for their growing season.
Growing Succulents in Winterless Climates
So you’ve read through everything so far, but you’re confused because you don’t get winters colder than 45℉. Don’t worry, the same rules still mostly apply! Except you will have to pay closer attention to watering your succulents.
If you live in a place where sometimes January or February can reach 60℉ or more, a lot of your succulents will grow and bloom all year, just slowing down a bit during hotter or colder months.
Often times, master succulent or cactus growers will separate summer and winter growers into greenhouses with differing environments, only keeping them outside during spring and fall! However, if you don’t have access to heaters and coolers and greenhouses, a simple fix can be to bring some summer growers inside during the winter, to be placed in a bright window or under grow lights, so they can still experience a simulated winter!
Conversely, the same can be done for winter growers during the warmer months. Just pay close attention to their lighting needs, as succulents always prefer bright light! Here’s a great and highly rated indoor grow light if you’re growing your succulents in doors.
With all this new information under your belt, it’s time to start planting! Look at what you have, what care you can give, and start planning your succulent garden today! It’s always helpful to figure out what plant hardiness zone you live in, and go from there.