When is the best time to bring succulents inside your home for the winter? There is no straightforward answer to that question because there are a few critical factors to consider. These include the type of succulent you are considering bringing indoors, the zone you live in, and the temperature in your area.
But as a rule of thumb, you should bring your succulents inside your home before the arrival of the first frost.
Should you bring your succulent indoors?
Before you even consider bringing in your succulent indoor to protect it from the winter, you should determine first if there is indeed a need to bring it into your home.
Hardy and soft succulents
A lot of people associate succulents, especially cacti, with arid desert environments. These plants are called soft or tender succulents. These succulents cannot survive freezing winter temperature and must be brought inside your home.
On the converse side of the coin, some succulents come from alpine climates. These plants can easily handle cold and harsh winters. These plants are called hardy or hard succulents. They can be left outdoors even during winter, although they will fare better with some preparations.
Tender succulents need to be brought indoors. You can leave hardy succulents outdoors if these are planted on the ground or move these under a roof if planted in containers.
Plant hardiness zone
Another important factor to consider before asking if you should bring your plant indoor is the average low temperature in the area where you live.
The best tool to use for this is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
This interactive tool was designed to help gardeners compare the climate in the area where they live in with the climate conditions certain plants are known to thrive in.
Ideally, your plant should tolerate the lowest and highest temperatures and average rainfall distribution in your location.
If there is a mismatch, bringing your succulent indoor is advised.
Can you bring your plant inside immediately?
Should you bring your succulent indoors immediately?
No. You have to prepare your succulent for the change in its environment. Ideally, you should begin these preparations at least a few days before. This will give you enough leeway and your plant will have sufficient time to make the transition from living outdoors to indoors.
But how exactly do you do that?
1. Water your plant outdoors for the last time
Water your plant outdoors one last time two to three days before moving it indoors.
Doing this allows your plant to have enough time to get moisture and ensure that the soil is completely dry.
An added benefit of this is that you can momentarily avoid the hassles associated with watering succulents indoors.
2. Amend the soil
This is an opportune time to check on the soil in your succulent’s pot.
You should be aware that indoor succulents require fast-draining soil and pots with drainage holes.
If the soil in your succulent’s current container is not appropriate for it, now is the best time to change to a fast-draining soil.
3. Clean the succulent pot
Bringing your succulent indoor is not just a matter of saving your plant from the harsh winter. Bringing your succulent inside your home is also an opportunity to spruce up the area where you will put your plant.
As such, you might want to clean up your succulent’s pot. Give it a quick wipe to remove dirt and debris. You should also remove dirt and debris on top of the soil, especially dead organic materials which can cause plant infections.
4. Eliminate bugs
If you have a few indoor plants, the last thing that you want to do is to bring in an infected plant.
Bugs like ants and mealybugs can transfer from an infected plant to your other houseplants with great ease.
Avoid this problem by checking your succulent for bugs. If your plant is infested, treat it accordingly and then quarantine it is completely free of pests..
5. Remove dead leaves
Pruning away dead leaves is not just for cosmetics.
Removing dead succulent leaves helps prevent rotting. Although plants can drop dead leaves on their own, give it some help and remove these yourself.
How do you care for indoor succulents?
After moving your succulent indoors, there are two things that you need to pay special attention to: watering and sunlight.
Whatever the season may be, one thing that you should pay close attention to when caring for your succulent is watering.
The easiest way to kill a succulent is to give it too much water. Excessive moisture leads to root rot, which in turn, kills succulents.
Be aware that many succulent species go dormant during the winter. As such, these plants will require less water than they need during their growth phase.
When it comes to watering succulents, the rule of thumb to follow is to water only when the soil is dry.
This is particularly important when you relocate your succulent indoors where airflow may not be as much compared to outdoors. Airflow is a crucial factor in facilitating the quick-wicking of moisture away from your succulent’s soil.
When moving your succulent indoors, choose a spot that gets the most amount of sunlight.
During winter when days are shorter and the sunlight is limited, your succulent will need about eight hours’ worth of light.
Check your plant regularly for signs of stretching. Stretching in succulents indicates that the plant needs more sunlight.
If you cannot find a sunny spot inside your home, consider investing in a grow lamp.
Should you bring your plant indoors when it is raining?
Although succulents hate excessive moisture, these plants, especially cacti, love getting drenched.
Occasional heavy rainfall can, in fact, be beneficial to your succulents. These plants love to be watered deeply but infrequently. Heavy rainfall is particularly beneficial to succulents during hot and dry days.
Rainwater is also pure and free of harmful contaminants. Although tap water is safe for human consumption, it may contain additives that may be harmful to plants.
Rain also helps clean the various parts of succulents, including the leaves. Clean leaves are necessary for your succulent as this allows it to get more sunlight.
However, there are a few caveats that you should be aware of.
First, your succulent must have fast-draining soil. Planted directly on the ground, your succulent should be equipped with sufficient drainage. One way to do that is to plant your succulent on a slight slope that facilitates quick drainage.
If your outdoor succulent is placed in a pot, you do not need to bring it indoors. You can just move it to an area under a roof.
There is one exception to this advice. If it has been raining and the forecast says that there will be a frost, you should bring your potted succulent indoors or cover your outdoor succulent.
Rainfall and frost is a bad combination for succulents. Cold temperature can freeze the water stored in a succulent. When this happens, the plant’s various water storage parts expand and eventually explode.
Know your plant
Check whether your succulent is hardy or tender. This will inform the actions that you need to take to protect it against the elements, especially during winter.
If you need to bring it indoors during winter, give it enough time to adjust to its new location and prepare to make minor adjustments to your watering and care routine.
Image: istockphoto.com / ThitareeSarmkasat