8 Steps for Succulent Care as Summer Ends
by Lynn KirkSep 4, 2021
How do you care for your outdoor succulents as summer draws to a close? Here are 8 steps:
1. REMOVE. Succulents are tidier than most annuals, but they still need attention. Look under the lower leaves, and surprise! Typically, there will be a few leaves beneath that are dry, while others will be crisp and dead. Pull off and remove this foliage, as well as any weeds and other debris. Do the same for spent seed heads and flower spikes that have completed their work. The dead foliage not only looks bad; it can become a breeding ground for destructive pests and fungi.
2. REVIEW. Take an objective visual inventory. Are your succulents ailing? Do some look leggy? Are any plants crowded? Perhaps this species would enjoy a bit more sun? Would that cactus thrive in an area with better drainage or would the Echeveria prefer more room to grow? Are there low areas that need fill-dirt to level the garden bed? And what about adding groundcovers in the future to fend off weeks? Now’s the time to question, consider, research, and make notes for future decisions and chores.
Tip: Record reminders, specific plant needs, and seasonal tasks in a gardening journal (or computer program) for future reference. Photos and sketches make great resources, too.
3. REPROPAGATE. Cut off some healthy leaves and pull off some volunteer rosettes for propagation. For step-by-step instructions, check out these helpful blogs, courtesy of Succulent Market.
4. RELOCATE. There are several ways to determine whether you need to overwinter your outdoor succulents inside.
* Plant Zone: If you kept the identifying tag that came with your succulent, doublecheck the plant’s hardiness. It will probably reference the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. For example, “hardy to zone 8” indicates that the plant has less chance of surviving outdoors in zones 7 and lower (since a lower zone number zone indicates lower temperatures in that area).
Tip: To determine your own plant zone, you can click on this LINK and insert your zip code.
* Hardiness: Research whether your plant is a hardy or tender succulent. Hardy succulents (such as Sempervivum and Sedum) often are capable of withstanding mild winters and snow. However, tender or soft succulents usually cannot (such as Echeverias, Haworthias, Crassulas, and Aeoniums).
When you do overwinter your succulents inside, avoid placing them in areas that are too hot (like near your fireplace) or too cold (like an unheated screened porch that chills below 50 degrees). Succulents are hardy, but they’re not invincible!
Tip: You can increase survival odds by covering your in-ground succulents with a frost blanket or plastic sheet. Also, they might be somewhat protected if growing in a sheltered area that creates its own “micro-climate” (like near a brick wall that shelters the plant from cold and wind, while offering heat absorbed by the sun). However, when in doubt, move your succulents to an area where they will receive warmth. Remember that they’ll also need six to eight hours of light daily or a grow light.
5. REPOT. Before moving your succulents indoors, take time to clean the pot and change the soil so sterile. You sure don’t want to take any outside pests in!
Tip: Don’t reuse succulent soil mix! You’re taking an unnecessary chance, and the proper soil mix is a minor expense compared to having to replace your precious plants.
6. RESPRAY. Generously spray the succulent with an pesticide about three weeks prior to their move indoors. That will give the chemicals sufficient time to work.
Tip: Even if no pests are visible, consider this a smart prevention practice!
7. REVISIT. Just because succulents are dormant in winter doesn’t mean they’re fine without care. They’ll still need sun so they don’t become leggy. They’ll also need water, but not as much as in spring and summer. Start reducing the amount of water about six weeks prior to their dormancy. You’ll also want to periodically check that there were no hitchhiking pests that survived your efforts to get rid of them.
Tip: Now is NOT the time to fertilize! Succulents are entering their dormant season, so no fertilizer until next spring.
8. REFRESH. Go online and start considering what “newbies” you want to add to your collection next spring. Succulent Market provides pictures and info (as well as collections) that will help with the process.
May these 8 steps RENEW your plants and REVIVE your passion for the world's most loved plants: SUCCULENTS!