Sierra Water Gardens
Care for Succulents
I absolutely love my succulents and because of that I am guilty of stocking too many in my store and wanting to keep most of them for myself. When winter comes I panic because I've kept too many and have no where to store them for the wintertime. As the cooler weather approaches now is the time to start thinking about where and how you are going to over winter any succulents you may have collected this summer! You do not have to move them in until we are in the 40 - 38 degree range at night. Even then I move my succulents in for the night and then back outside during the warmer daytime. When the days are in the high 30s then I start keeping my succulents inside full time. Just do not let them freeze! Here are tips for overwintering your succulents:
Winter Hardy Succulents
There are lots of hardy succulents that you can leave outside, such as Sedum, Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum), Ice Plant (Delosperma), Stonecrop, Yucca and some varieties of Agave. There is no extra winter care or prep really needed. You will notice changes like withering, shrinking and color changes as it gets cooler. I tend to let my hardy succulents stay dry a little longer during the wintertime. Although if there has been no snow or rain for several weeks during the winter, which is common in Reno then make sure you water your hardy succulents from time to time.
Sensitive Succulents Not Hardy to the Reno Area
These succulent types include, but are not limited to Echeveria, Aeonium, Crassula, Kalanchoe, Faucaria, Senecio, Aloe and more. I carry a lot of these types at my nursery because they have spectacular color and unique shapes. It gets way below freezing during the winter in Reno so we have to protect these plants by bringing them inside. Ideally a greenhouse is the place, but we don't all have that luxury so we bring them into our house. To successfully winter over these varieties it is important to pay attention to light, water, temperature, bugs and fertilizer.
Light - This is the most important. Succulents need direct sunlight!! South facing windows would be perfect. Fortunately we get a lot of good sun in the wintertime here in Reno. Too little light will result in your succulents stretching for sunlight getting a long and leggy look which results in weak and ugly plants in the spring. Fluorescent lights will work but they have to be a couple inches away from the plants to do any good. Other Incandescent lighting is not the right spectrum and too warm.
Water - Less is more! Err on the side of less water when you have succulents inside. Keep your succulents on the dry side during the winter months inside because they like that anyway and they are receiving less light and experiencing cooler temps. Succulents can come back from too little water, but once they rot they are dead. Water them just enough to keep them from shriveling. The rosette succulents known as Echeveria need to be watered carefully, water the soil and not the plants because the water will sit between the leaves and rot the plants. The best way is to check the soil and watch the plants to know when to water, but generally 10 - 14 days in between watering... maybe more like 7 - 10 in dry Reno air.
Temperature - Most succulents do not need to be kept especially warm during the winter. The important thing is to not allow them to freeze. 45*F to 55*F is perfect. Keeping the plants cool will keep them in a semi dormant state. A warm location encourages the plants to grow and with the lower light intensity indoors during the winter, results in leggy plants.
Fertilizer - Succulents do not need any fertilizer during the fall and winter. You want to keep the plants alive, not encourage them to grow.
These are the best tips for over-wintering succulents indoors for Reno that have worked for me. Succulents like being in a semi-dormant state for the winter season: bright, dry and cool. When temperatures are no longer freezing you can start moving succulents outside during the day and transitioning them slowly to being back outside. Remember they will be a little weak and sensitive after being kept inside for several months. Good Luck and have fun with succulents!