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How to Refresh and Revive Succulents After Winter

How to refresh and revive succulents after winter

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.

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

Dormant Succulents:
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.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

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.  

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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.

fiddle-leaf fig 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.

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Modern Container Gardens

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” 
– Claude Monet

Gardening trends are their own little paradox. On the one hand, the essentials of how we take care of our gardens and the joy that comes from nurturing life out of soil remain the same each year. But our gardens themselves get a refreshing lift each season with new trends and fashion. The new “it” trends are as seasonal as our gardens themselves.

Container gardening is the best choice for exploring new trends with each summer. They’re creative, dynamic, but also very non-committal, so you are free to explore new ideas as much as you’d like. A few of this year’s top trends are the perfect fit for your own container garden this spring:

Gardening with Succulents

Succulents continue to have an impressive presence in garden trends and on garden center shelves. These adorable plants have a unique aesthetic and add a certain edge to any indoor or outdoor creation. Succulents are the perfect combination of ease of care and contemporary style.

Succulents are a great choice for a chic container. Choose a shallow container (terra-cotta is a great choice) and hunt for your new favorite succulents at our garden center. The most striking container should have a healthy mix of different shapes and colors. Even if one type of succulent catches your eye more than the others, the mixture will help them all to stand out even more once they are planted.

For the creative, it could be a great DIY project to make your own container. Head to the antique mall and take advantage of any improvised vessels you can find. Bird cages, toys, dishware, and even shoes have been inspirations for many succulent crafts.

Some tips for creating the best statement-making succulent container:

  • Choose a few of your favorite succulents you would like to bring indoors in the fall. By keeping them in their pots when you plant them, you can easily separate them from the container when the weather cools. Give them lots of winter light indoors until next spring and they will eventually become specimen pieces as the seasons go by.
  • If you have the space, you could bring your whole container indoors. Spray it a few times to make sure it is clear of opportunistic pests before taking it inside for the winter.
  • Try blending your succulents with less expensive bedding plants to create a planter full of unique interest. Costly designer annuals will overwhelm and devour your succulents, but sun lovers like marigolds, zinnias, portulaca, and other classics are great choices.
  • Choose soils and containers that have excellent drainage. Try blending a potting mix in a 1:1 ratio with cactus soil for an easy blend that your succulents will thrive in. Consider layering pebbles on the bottom of your container if spacing permits to improve drainage even more.
  • These trends offer a unique take on the normal garden favorites. Choosing any or all of these great seasonal trends offers your backyard and garden a fresh new take on the season that will be catching the eye for the entire summer.

Gardening with Water:

Backyard water features are chic and add a serene calm to your yard, but sometimes you don’t want the full commitment. You can actually take advantage of the backyard water trend without the landscaping hassle. Something as simple as a container can be transformed into a trendy statement for your yard this summer.

Creating a backyard pond only requires a non-permeable container, some water, and a few aquatic plants. Whether you choose to commit to a permanent feature or just retrofit a container, the principle is the same.

To make your own miniature water feature, find a large container without any drainage holes. Add some clay-based soil, some water, and specific water garden plants to complete the look. You may even choose to add fish for an extra aesthetic bonus. Simply provide your miniature garden with 6 or more hours of sunlight a day, and your water garden is ready to impress!

As you build, remember:

  • You can add soothing sound effects with a small pump. The sounds of water will fill your yard, and the ambient humidity will give any surrounding tropicals a healthy boost! As an added bonus, a pump will keep your water moving and help to discourage any mosquitoes from making themselves at home.
  • As beautiful as they are, avoid any repurposed alcohol barrels for your pond, as they could leach harmful chemicals into the water, potentially harming plants (and fish).
  • You’ll need to add water as it evaporates. Water plants and fish are sensitive to chlorine. Let your tap water sit out for a day or two to evaporate some chlorine away before you add it to your container.
  • Maintenance might require cleaning some algae from your container. Once or twice a year is usually enough to keep it at bay unless you have fish in your container.
  • Get creative with this project, and choose a statement container to really make your seasonal water feature pop in your yard.

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Gardening in Ultraviolet:

Pantone is the color authority for all things design. They have an exhaustive library of colors and they are trusted as the leading name in indoor and outdoor decor, as well as fashion and art. Every year they announce which of their colors will be setting the trend for design. After a few years of underwhelming selections, 2018’s choice of Ultra Violet (18-3838) is full of potential.

One of the most complex colors on the spectrum, the intensity of ultraviolet comes down to science. Human eyes can only see some of this color, the rest is filled in as your brain’s best guess. While other creatures like a bee can see the true color with their fuller spectrum of vision, we are treated to the optical illusion of a color that is half real and half imaginary.

Popular ultraviolet blooms take full advantage of this trick for an even more impressive range of beauty. The combination of real and imagined color can make the color of intense violet appear vibrant in full sunlight, but downright brooding in the evening. One set of blooms can transform your outdoor space with color that almost changes to fit the ambient mood of your yard.

Here’s how to make the most out of ultraviolet for the trendiest and most stunning containers this season:

  • Violet contrasts strongly with yellow. Adding a simple and vibrant sunny yellow next to your ultraviolet blooms will spice up your container. The contrast will bring out the best of your violet. You won’t be able to keep your eyes off of this color combination!
  • Violet is so intense that it can be lost in the shade or shadows. Pairing it with a bright companion (like a lighter foliage) will give it the stage that it needs.
  • Purple works extra hard in your containers to keep its appeal even into the fall. The lower angles of sunlight late in the season plays tricks with the light and will bring out yet more dimensions of your ultraviolet flowers.