Can Succulents Survive The Winter? Tips For Protecting Your Succulent

Whether you love your succulents year-round or are just starting out growing them, you may have questions about how best to protect your prized plants during cold weather. After reading this article you'll know exactly how to care for your succulent plants through the winter months.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

Succulents are a popular plant that many people nowadays love to own. They add color and liveliness to any space and are usually easy to care for. However, most people like to have succulents inside their homes, so what if you want to keep them outside year-round? Can succulents survive the harshness of winter months and, if so, how can you help them? 

People like succulents for their hardy nature, making them easy to care for; but this hardiness also allows them to withstand extremely cold climates and winter conditions. Sempervivum, Hardy Sedum, and Hardy Opuntia are great succulent genera for surviving tough winters. To help, water them sparingly, keep them dry, and place them in a sunny spot. 

If you want to spruce up your outdoor garden with some charming succulents, but you live somewhere with cold, harsh winters, don’t worry. We can tell you exactly which succulents are best equipped to survive these conditions and which to keep inside. We’ll also supply lifesaving and sustaining tips to ensure your winter-bearing succulents survive to see spring. 

Can Succulents Survive the Winter?

Yes. Many, but not all, succulents can survive throughout winter. When one hears the word “succulent,” they usually think of the spiky little plants found spotting the dry, arid terrain of deserts or semi-deserts. 

This gives people the misconception that these plants only thrive in really barren and hot environments when, in reality, deserts can plummet to temperatures of about 25°F (-3.9°C ) or colder, which is comparable to the average temperature in various U.S. states throughout winter. 

While the average nightly temperature varies depending on the region, these conditions mean that many succulent species have learned how to adapt to extreme temperatures on both sides of the spectrum. 

While some succulents can withstand extremely cold climates, others simply die when the temperature is too low.

Now, some of you might be thinking that with winter comes snow, and the days don’t heat up drastically like they do in the desert. A succulent has to be able to survive winter conditions for months versus the handful of hours until a desert sunrise. But a cold-hardy succulent won’t find either to be an issue. 

Succulents are extremely hardy plants, and many can easily endure being outside in the winter elements for months, especially with some help from you. Species found naturally in the desert, or even mountain ranges are no strangers to snowfall and prolonged cold. 

Therefore, if you’re seeking a succulent that can survive year-round, especially throughout winter, this largely depends on you planting the right one. 

Which Succulents Can Survive Winter and Which Should be Kept Inside?

While many succulents can hunker down, survive, and sometimes thrive throughout the winter months due to their origins in deserts or mountains with extreme conditions, many are also from rain forests and will struggle immensely in these conditions. 

Therefore, it is important to know which succulents can handle the winter months with ease and which ones you are better off keeping indoors. 

Succulents That Can Survive the Winter

There is a vast list of succulent species and/or genus that will embrace the challenges of winter with open arms and can even do so looking as vibrant and beautiful as a rose blooming in spring. The catch is knowing which ones are capable of this and which will perish under the pressure. 

To help, we’ve compiled a list below of the succulents that are best equipped for surviving harsh winter months and will likely thrive year-round. The majority of them fall under three genus: Sempervivum, Hardy Sedum, and Hardy Opuntia.

GenusOptimal temperaturesSpecies
SempervivumAs low as – 30 degrees FahrenheitSempervivum heuffelii (aka. Purple Haze or Job’s Beard)Sempervivum red lionSempervivum mahoganySempervivum calcareumSempervivum cobweb
Hardy SedumAs low as -20 to -40 degrees FahrenheitSedum Dasyphyllum MajorSedum Golden MossDragon’s Blood SedumCape Blanco Sedum
Hardy OpuntiasAs low as -35 degrees FahrenheitEastern prickly-pear cactusBrittle prickly-pear cactusPlains prickly-pear cactus
Other(Includes cacti of the following families:Echinocereus, Ferocactus, Echinopsis, and Mammillaria)Varies depending on cactus and family, but all are considered cold hardyBeehive or Pincushion cactusClaret cup or Hedgehog cactusChollaPineapple cactusOld Man cactusOrange Snowball cactusBarrel cactus

For most regions, you can’t go wrong choosing one of the succulents listed above if you’re looking for one that will last through the winter. All you need to do is research them, choose one you can afford, and give proper care and that has your ideal aesthetic.

Succulents That Can’t Survive Winter

Some succulents can undoubtedly survive the bitter cold and inches of snow that come with winter, but some will suffer greatly and likely succumb to these conditions. 

Like we mentioned previously, there are a decent number of succulents that feel most at home in the heat and moist conditions of the rain forest, and so, many can’t even survive moderately cold temperatures for two or three nights, let alone months of winter. 

These are the plants that you really need to keep inside and manage their conditions if you want to ensure their survival. 

While we won’t supply a list as extensive as the one detailed above, we can tell you that, for the most part, if a succulent is part of one of the following genus, it isn’t cold-hardy and shouldn’t be left outside in the winter or cold fall months for some regions. 

  • Echeverias: ideal temperature range= 65 to 70 °F, low of 50°F in winter
  • Aeoniums: ideal temperature range= 40 to 100 °F
  • Haworthias: ideal temperature range= 75 to 90°F
  • Most Aloes: ideal temperature range= 55 and 80°F
Haworthia is one of the succulents that cannot survive cold winters.

You should always check the growing zone of your residence in the USDA hardiness map before planting these succulents outdoors if you feel you have the optimal external conditions. It will match your zip code to its planting zone and provide information vital to plant survival. Checking this before planting cold-hardy succulents or any plant, in general, is always a good idea. 

Tips for Protecting Your Succulent in the Winter

Alright, so you know now which succulent can survive the winter months best, but that doesn’t mean the plan of action should be to plant them outside and leave them to fend for themselves. 

Taking proper care of your succulents is key to growing healthy plants.

You still need to provide your succulent with optimal care while they are surviving outdoors, especially if you live in a region with particularly harsh winters, such as Marquette, Michigan, Buffalo, New York, Caribou, Maine, and frankly, anywhere in Alaska. 

Here are our best tips for protecting your succulent in the winter, so you can give your beloved plants their best chance when braving these difficult months.

Provide Your Succulent with Minimal Water During Winter Months

When winter comes around, you don’t want to overwater your succulents with the assumption they’re dehydrating without rain. 

These plants are extremely hardy and used to surviving with minimal water, so you should only water them when there are prolonged periods without snow and you notice your succulent surrounding dirt is extremely dry. 

Even then, you want to water them sparingly and only provide enough to prevent dehydration. Odds are, it will snow at some point, and when it does, the snow will melt and provide water to your succulent, maybe even too much water. 

This is why it is important to research the succulents you want to plant outdoors and ensure their needs and optimal environment match where you live. You should also know if your succulent is dormant or active during the winter, as an active succulent will require more water and care. 

Plant Them In a Sunny Location

The number of daylight hours decreases significantly during the winter months, so you’ll want to make sure your succulent is planted somewhere it can obtain sufficient amounts of sunlight in the limited time it has daily. 

Position your succulent so that it gets sufficient sunlight to survive winter.

Be conscious of what kind of succulent you have and how it prefers to obtain sunlight. Some can sit in direct sunlight for hours and thrive, while others prefer indirect sunlight and should be planted accordingly. 

Keep Your Succulent Dry

One rule of thumb that applies to essentially all succulents is that they don’t need mass amounts of water to stay alive. The plant is very good at reserving and efficiently using any small amounts of water it can acquire, which is why winter can sometimes pose a life-threatening challenge to even the cold-hardiest of succulents. 

There are few cities and even fewer states in the U.S. that don’t receive any precipitation during their winter months. Mass amounts of snow can be dangerous for your succulents, especially when it starts to melt, as the risk of overwatering increases drastically. 

To prevent this, you’re biggest priority during the winter months is to keep your succulent dry. A good way to do this is to actually keep it in a pot with drainage holes instead of burying it directly in the ground and filling the pot with a fast-draining, gritty mix.

The pot will give you more control over your succulent’s condition, and the mix will prevent the soil around your succulent from retaining too much moisture from snowfall or occasional rain. 

Know When to Quit

If you’ve chosen one of the succulents from the provided chart, odds are it will survive just fine during the winter, as long as it gets the right amount of sunlight, water and is kept dry. 

However, winters can be unpredictable, and you might find your succulent is struggling more than usual. In these cases, it’s best for the plant’s health and longevity to bring it inside. 

If you notice clear signs of frost damage or other ailments, you don’t want to wait and see if your succulent can stick it out for the remaining days, weeks, or months you might have left in winter. Instead, carefully transition it indoors, restore it back to health, and keep it inside for as long as necessary.

Final Thoughts

Gardeners and succulent enthusiasts living in colder regions will be ecstatic to know that having a succulent garden outdoors that will survive the winter is indeed possible. There are countless beautiful and cold-hardy options to choose from, but the most important element here is you. 

While your cold-hardy succulent has the basic tools to survive harsh winters, it’s still going to need your help. Research the plant and make sure it’s a good fit for the region where you live and provide it with all of the life-sustaining elements it needs. If winter is being uncharacteristically brutal, there’s nothing wrong with bringing these plants indoors until more optimal conditions arrive. 

Share on email
Share on print
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

read this next

Do Cacti Plants Die After Flowering? This is an interesting question, and I’m sure many of you have wondered the same thing before. Thankfully, it has a very simple answer as well! So stick around, and let’s find out what happens after a Cactus Flowering!
Something every ghost plant owner should know is how to care for your ghost plant. This plant requires high humidity and low light. Ghost plants do not like direct sunlight, so keep them away from electricity sources such as windows. Watering frequency depends on the soil your ghost plant is in.
The crown of thorns plant has a few characteristics that set it apart from other plants. The purple and yellow flowers along the stem and the spines on its leaves give the plant a rugged yet beautiful appearance. The crown of thorns plant does not require much maintenance and can thrive in containers or in the ground.
As a succulent plant owner, you might be aware that your plants can “go soft” and lose their shape. This is natural, but it is also not something you want to happen all the time. There are things you can do to ensure that your succulents remain firm and strong for as long as possible, and we’ll go over those tips here.
You’ve nurtured your cactus in its container for weeks–but why does it show no signs of life? It’s time to refresh yourself on the basic facts about how to get your cactus blossoms. Your job is like that of a detective, only the clues are hidden underground. You must know when and how to intervene if your cactus isn’t actively growing.
Wondering how to revive a mushy succulent? Mushy succulents are disappointing, but don’t throw them away! Still, some succulent plants are easier to fix than others. Here are tips on what to do when your succulents go soft.
The snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, is a great houseplant for beginners. It’s pretty tolerant of issues like under-watering and few hours of sunlight. If you cut off a piece of this vining plant, there are some simple steps to take in order to successfully propagate it.
As succulents are low-maintenance plants that thrive in harsh climates, overwatering is a critical issue that can lead to root rot or even death. Luckily, you can save your overwatered succulents and here are some tips to easily do it!
Succulents are some of the easiest plants to grow in the world. Succulent seeds can take anywhere from 10 to 40 days to germinate depending upon how warm they are kept and what type of seed they are. Let’s learn how to start succulents from seed right now!
Sansevieria, also known as “Mother-In-Law’s Tongue” is a type of succulent. In most cases children are really happy to have a Sansevieria plant because it’s one of the easiest to grow and it tastes great! The Sansevieria plant is seen in two main varieties: the thick leaf plants (either the Congo or Hahnii) are both very hardy and fast growing.
Whether you’re looking to bring a splash of color to your bathroom or create an oasis of calm from the chaos of the kids, placing a cactus in your bathroom is an excellent, budget-friendly idea to brighten up your space. For this reason, we have answered the well-asked question, “Can cactus be kept in the bathroom?”
Learn how to root a cactus in water in 4 quick steps: gather the cuttings, dry them, place them in water, and just wait for them to root! Stay safe when handling prickly cacti
Many succulent varieties can be propagated just by cutting apart a small piece of that plant and planting it in suitable soil. Many cuttings can be planted immediately, however some take a little more work to get ready for their new life. There are many different ways to start your succulent cuttings, but the method below has proven to be the most reliable way to grow new healthy plants from a cutting.
Cacti are amazing plants that can grow anywhere in the world. You can grow these plants in your backyard or in pots and position inside the house. With their unique features, you can be sure of getting something incredible that will make your house feel like a home
Desert plants have adapted their roots, stems, and leaves to store more water and decrease its loss. The ability to stay hydrated helps desert plants grow healthy in extremely hot or cold environments. Still, there are several threats for desert and Antarctica’s plants, including erosion, global warming, and human involvement.

Receive the latest news

Get Our Cacti Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest facts, tips, advice, and more!

Your privacy is important to us.