How To Prepare Your Succulents for the Cold Winter, Because It Could Very Likely Kill Them

Contrary to popular belief, succulents don't always thrive off of neglect. Yep, the so-called "hardest plants to kill" indeed have an Achilles heel, and it's the cold winter. The two most-common mistakes people make with their succulents in the winter is not giving them enough light and overwatering them, says Sarah Humke, research and development manager at Wild Interiors plant studio. Here, she shares how to take care of your succulents in winter.

"If you don’t have any good windows or if a lot of the light to your windows is blocked by trees I would suggest getting some grow lights," she says. "The LED options have become significantly less expensive in the past few years, and a number of them are not the super-pink lights that can cause some people to have headaches." Personally, Humke likes growlights with replaceable lightbulbs, and offers this pro-tip should you decide to opt for an artificial light source: Check to make sure your plants aren't stretching toward the light—if they are, they're still not getting enough exposure and need to be moved closer.

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The same holds true for your plant's proximity to natural light, as well, but Humke cautions against moving succulents too close to drafty windows. "I had a friend that had a fantastically bright window in her home, but her plants froze solid after one particularly bad cold spell," she says. "So, check for cold drafts before putting yours on the windowsill." And even sealed windows can become too chilly during cold snaps. "If you see any kind of frozen condensation on the inside of your windows, move your plants away," Humke says.

Once you've found a happy place for your succulent to hibernate, the next step is to update your watering schedule for winter because even on bright days, "they aren’t getting as much sunlight as they were in the summer months, so they need less water to function," Humke says. "It’s very easy to get into autopilot with watering, and a lot of plants die in the first few weeks of winter as a result." Your best bet is to pop them out of their pots and check the rootballs to see how much moisture is left in the soil before each watering, Humke suggests. This, of course, depends on the size of your succulents, so here's a simple watering hack you can use on larger ones.

Finally, for anyone bringing their succulents inside for the cold season, make sure that you check them for hitchhikers, Humke says. "Succulents have lots of nooks and crannies that insects can wiggle down into. In a well-lit place, just take a good look at your plants for any pests or other insect that may want to migrate into your home." Here's another instance when it's important to check the rootballs if you can, as insects sometimes get in between them and the pot—this is especially important if you have a larger pot, because other critters like mice and snakes could be hiding there (eek!).

"When you bring your plants inside, it’s good to transition them as much as is possible," Humke says. "Try to put the newly brought-in plants in a location that mimics where they were as much as possible." This keeps the change of scenery from sending them into shock.

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