The popularity of succulents is hard to miss. As they become increasingly trendy, they seem to be showing up everywhere.
These plants are popular thanks to their eye-catching appearance, a welcome variation from all of the popular varieties that have been houseplant staples for years, but also due to their low-maintenance nature. Simple to care for, succulents are accessible for anyone to enjoy, regardless of their level of confidence in being a Plant Parent.
Post Winter Blues:
After a long and dry winter – especially with our furnaces working so hard through this year’s deep freeze – everything is feeling a little dried out and drab. You can bet that your little succulents are feeling the effects of a dark and dry winter, and will need a bit of refreshing to shine for the rest of the year. While this might sound like a lot of work, if you invest the energy up front to give your succulents a great foundation to work from, the rest of your plant care will be a breeze! Take the end of winter as an opportunity to set your succulents up for a great spring and summer, when you can spend more time enjoying them than pampering them.
Safe from plummeting temperatures, wind, and snow, it’s easy to forget that our indoor plants also feel the seasons changing. With shorter days, less sunlight, and the dry air, our plants get ready to go dormant over the winter. Thankfully, our plants still look gorgeous during hibernation, so our homes still feel like an indoor oasis even when it’s chilly outside.
While dormant, your plants might look the same, but under the surface they’re in long-term survival mode until the weather improves. They don’t require nearly as much water or care, because they aren’t doing much growing! Limit watering, avoid fertilizing, and simply keep an eye on them to remove any leaves that might die off. We like to use tweezers to pull away dead leaves to avoid causing any more damage.
Winter Temperature for Succulents:
Keeping your succulent in the cooler part of your home will help them to settle into a natural rhythm of hibernation so they don’t come out of dormancy before the spring is ready to greet them. Dormancy is not only normal and natural but also important to help thrust your plant towards a spring and summer full of vibrancy.
Winter Lighting for Succulents:
In the dim winter, when we have less light, don’t be surprised if you see your succulent leaning towards the window or the nearest light source. You might notice them “stretching” – growing taller and spreading further disproportionately in search of light. This is a telltale sign that your dormant plant isn’t getting the light it needs to survive the winter comfortably.
To prevent this, you might want to relocate them to a brighter spot or even invest in a little grow lamp to provide extra light for them. With spring around the corner, you might be able to wait it out, but desperate plants could use that extra help. Don’t worry if your plant stretches too much – you can always snip away some of the furthest growths and propagate them into new plants.
To propagate them into new succulents:
- Use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut off the top of your succulent. Make sure to leave a stem that is at least 1-2” long with at least 3-4 leaves on it.
- You can leave the original plant in place as new growth will also sprout from the base of it, as well.
- Let your cutting dry out for a few days. When the end of your cutting has formed a “scab,” it is safe to plant it in soil.
- Your new succulent cutting will start to put off roots within 2-3 weeks.
- The original plant will begin to put off new growth within a few weeks. You can care for the original plant the same as you were before cutting it back. The leaves that were left on the original plant may fall off or die at some point. Do not worry if this happens – it is very normal, although often they don’t fall off at all.
What if My Succulent gets too Cold?:
Succulents placed next to drafty windows run the risk of getting chilled in the winter – which is something to keep in mind as you try to find more light for your plant. Your poor succulent isn’t used to our frozen temperatures and can get frost damage just from being next to a cold window. You’ll be able to identify cold damage on the leaves a few days after your plant was exposed. Look at the thinnest and most vulnerable parts of the plant first, checking for softening, discoloring, and turning brown. At first, the damage may look like leaf rot, but you can usually sleuth out the cause if you consider your plant’s location. Leaving these damaged leaves on your plant can be an unfortunate starting point for rot and disease, so treating it right away is important for the health of the rest of your plant.
How to Save Your Succulent from Cold Damage:
A little bit of cold damage doesn’t have to be the end of your succulent’s time with you, but it will need some intervention to keep your plant healthy – especially while they’re vulnerable and dormant. Here’s how to save your succulent from cold damage without compromising aesthetic:
- Use a sharp paring knife. Before you start, clean the blade with rubbing alcohol to prevent passing any bacteria or disease to your succulent
- Carefully cut off the damaged parts of your plant, including parts that are discolored or soft. Between every cut, clean your knife again with rubbing alcohol
- Once you’ve removed the damage, place your succulent in a dry place that has ambient light but is not in direct sun.
- After the wounds have healed up, you can move your plant back to the sun and resume your care schedule. Be careful not to place it somewhere that could bring on more cold damage!
The winter is tough on us, but it’s nice to have some living plants in your home to remind you of the vibrancy that waits for us in the spring. There’s a lot to be said about home decor that loves you back. Our plants improve our moods, beautify our homes, and keep our air fresh – but in return, they need some love and care from us to get through the difficult winter season.
As spring approaches, move your plant to a warmer spot in your home to coax it out of dormancy. Treat it to a half dose of cactus fertilizer when you see it sprouting new growth, and you’ll be ready to enjoy all that your succulent has to offer once you’ve both made it through the winter.