Winter Prep for Tender Succulents

sucpotfall500_72As we advance into autumn, your succulent planters may look so beautiful that  you may want to wait until the last minute to protect your plants.

deconstruct1_succulent500It usually happens sometime in mid October in southeastern MA,  when a cloudless night will allow temperatures to drop into the low 30’s and a light frost nips unprotected tender plantings (yep, that’s what happened here). If a frost catches you by surprise, your plants may only have suffered slight foliage damage which can easily be trimmed off.

deconstruct2_succulent500Small containers can simply be moved inside, but you’re probably not going to want to move a big heavy pot. The only thing to do to preserve your plants in this case is to dismantle your planting. Carefully pry loose the root balls to get at the plants. (Thanks  Peter Tracey for acting as our model!)


Have a wheelbarrow nearby to transfer your unearthed roots.

deconstruct6_ssucculent500Prepare a very well drained planting medium suitable for succulents. We use a barky perennial mix with added perlite and coarse sand. It is important that your plants don’t spend the winter in soil which stays moist all the time. Try to transplant into pots that are just big enough to contain the root ball. (This will help keep the pots on the dry side and will not take up much space.)

deconstruct_succulents.onPlace your pots near the sunniest windows in your home. The days are getting shorter and low light levels may can cause your plants to stretch towards the window. Rotate your pots to compensate.  We water only when the pots are dry, and wait until late winter or early spring to fertilize.

See the Rehabbing Succulents Post for spring care.

5 thoughts on “Winter Prep for Tender Succulents”

  1. Thank you for the wintering over tips. We do not have many sunny windows, living in a tree-surrounded colonial. Would you recommend keeping them (mostly Jade) under plant lights? If so, how many hours of light should they get? Any tips for keeping our Jades will be very much appreciated! One is Cressula Ovata from your nursery.

  2. Kathy, can I lift the entire root mass, as peter shows us in his first picture, and plop it down in a lightweight plastic pot , filled in with my succulent mix ( 3 parts quality potting soil, 2 parts builder’s sand, and 1 part vermiculite) on the bottom and sides? I went wicked wicked overboard, maybe paying off your mortgage, with this year’s new passion!!

  3. Kathy! Many thanks for this article. I called a few weeks ago to ask about wintering over planters with succulents. You helped me then, but this article really “iced the cake”. Many thanks.

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