The sun is dipping before dinner, its last degrees of heat are being squeezed out and Snow Miser has finally reared his icy head. It’s winter and if you haven’t already, it’s time to deal with your tender succulents (we’ll address their cold hardy counterparts in another blog). Wintertime can be challenging for succies indoors without a bit of knowledge. Lucky for you, we’re here with the skinny on these plump plants.
Let’s start with the most important question: what the heck plant is this? Succulent plants come from 60 different plant families and innumerable places around the world. Why does this matter, you ask? Because depending on climactic conditions, some plants have developed different dormancy times to survive strenuous situations. While it’s true that a large number of succulents are guileful growers, making moves whenever conditions are favorable, some are strict adherents to natural dormancy patterns. Be sure to consult several sources about how your plant responds to dormancy. See the bottom of this blog for a great succulent dormancy guide to help get you started before diving headlong into each of your plants’ needs.
Now that you’ve got an idea about your plant’s habits and needs let’s dig into the juicy bits: light and water. When moving indoors the greatest challenge most of us face is providing enough light. For your glutinous growers that deny dormancy you’ll want to watch for etiolation, also known as stretching or getting leggy. A key feature for determining whether your plant is stretching or not is to investigate the internodes (the spaces between leaves and branches). Should you notice that the space between older leaves is less than the space between newer leaves then you’re likely looking at etiolation and need to find more light for your plant. For your stricter slumberers and those plants you just can’t fit in your already overgrown windowsill (no judgement, we’re hord-iculturists ourselves) light is less important. Tuck these brutes into a cool corner (40-60F) for the season and forget about 'em!
If you’re a helicopter plant parent who likes to fuss over your greenery this next tidbit will really rock your boat. Water needs to drastically decrease during winter. Even those plants that refuse to stop growing will likely use about half the amount of moisture that they did in the warm season. For sleepyheads that take advantage of the downtime you can reduce your waterings to very little and often not at all. Watch your plant for signs that it NEEDS a drink (shriveling leaves, wrinkling, drooping, etc.) and keep in mind that most succulents are built to handle long drought periods and generally grow stronger and more compact with regular dry periods. Fast growing species won’t lose any curb appeal from ditching a few leaves over winter and will quickly fill out when regular watering resumes in the spring.
A little patience and knowledge go a long way in in helping our succulent soul mates properly manager cold season conditions. If you’re having a hard time keeping your plants happy or want more tips targeted towards a specific species, please reach out. We’re happy to help in any way we can!