Mastering Hardy Succulents: Your Complete Guide

Hardy succulents are easy to care for and great as houseplants, office plants and in the landscape. Learn how to keep your succulents healthy with this guide.
A succulent in a snow.

Growing succulents as houseplants are fast becoming a trendy thing among gardeners worldwide. Many people love these plants because they are easy to care for and thrive in different environments. They are also known to be very hardy plants, surviving in extreme temperatures and drought-like conditions. Many succulent species are considered the tough cookies of the plant world!

But what are hardy succulents, and what do you need to know about them? The term hardy succulent is mainly used to refer to succulent species that can survive in freezing temperatures. They are also referred to as cold-hardy succulents. Many of these succulents require less water than typical plants because they store much water in their stems. Hardy succulents come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Most are zone 4 and 5 succulents ranging from small and compact to long-stemmed types. There are many different species to choose from, but you must fully understand your region’s climate to make an informed decision.

This blog post discusses everything you need to know about hardy succulents. Read on to learn more.

Understanding the Optimal Growth Conditions for Most Succulents

The term “hardy succulents” relates to the hardiness zone in which they grow best. Most succulents, including cacti, tolerate temperatures ranging from 32 to 104 Degrees Fahrenheit.

For optimal growth, though, many species do better when exposed to sunny locations and drier climates. As such, they tend to thrive in regions with mild winters and relatively hot summers.

Aeonium exposed to sunlight.
Many species do better when exposed to sunny locations and drier climates.

It’s important to note that some succulents don’t require full sun and can survive in the shade, but they will still need light for photosynthesis.

And it is not just about the amount of light received. Most succulents hate being exposed to freezing temperatures since they are highly susceptible to frost damage. You should move them indoors if temperatures drop below freezing point.

On the contrary, cold-hardy succulents have adapted to survive in very cold environments and can tolerate temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

These plants are perfect for gardeners who live in colder climates and still want to enjoy the benefits of having a succulent collection.

What Makes a Succulent “Hardy?”

Surprisingly, some succulents can survive in temperatures below freezing. However, it is essential to differentiate between regular and hardy succulents.

Regular succulents cannot withstand long periods of extreme cold weather and will likely die if exposed for too long.

On the other hand, cold-hardy succulents have adapted to survive in cold climates and are considered hardy.

They have adapted mechanisms that enable them to survive extreme temperatures and are generally much more challenging than regular succulents.

A echeveria in a windowsill exposed to sunlight,
It is essential to differentiate between regular and hardy succulents.

One of the most common adaptations is that some species produce thick, waxy coatings on their leaves to prevent water loss due to evaporation. This helps reduce the risk of freezing damage in cold climates.

They also store more water in their leaves and stems than other succulent varieties. This allows them to survive extended drought periods or extreme temperatures with little maintenance.

Do We Have “Soft” Succulents

By now, you must be wondering if we also have “soft” succulents. The simple answer is yes. While hard succulents are well adapted to surviving in cold environments, soft succulents are more sensitive to frost and can easily suffer severe damage.

These plants are adapted to relatively warm temperatures and can’t tolerate anything below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

When temperatures drop below freezing, they don’t have appropriate mechanisms to deal with the extreme cold.

The water stored in their cells starts to freeze when temperatures are relatively low, leading to irreversible damage.

If you don’t take appropriate measures to bring the succulent indoors before things worsen, its leaves will turn brown and get mushy/soft.

Sometimes, you can save frost-damaged succulents by pruning the saggy brown parts and moving them to a relatively warm location.

However, some succulents sustain extensive damage within a relatively short period making it hard to save them.

That is why it is critical to keep a close eye on your succulent during winter and protect it from extremely cold temperatures as soon as you notice signs of stress.

Tips For Growing Hardy Succulents

If you live in a colder climate and want to incorporate hardy succulents into your garden, you should keep a few tips in mind.

The most important thing is to choose the suitable species for your region. Cold-hardy succulents come in various shapes and sizes, giving you plenty of options.

You can use a cloche or plastic covering to keep your succulent safe during winter or cold nights.

A blue spruce with snow.
Cold-hardy succulents come in various shapes and sizes, giving you plenty of options.

This will help insulate the plants and create a warm environment to survive frost damage. You can also bring the plants indoors to protect them from freezing temperatures.

Finally, remember that hardy succulents will still require proper maintenance and care. They need adequate sunlight and water during their growing season.

Fertilizing your succulent at least once a month will help it stay healthy and strong throughout the year.

Water Requirements for Hardy Succulents

One of the reasons succulents are popular houseplants is their low water requirements.

Most hardy succulents need less frequent watering than other plants and can survive drought-like conditions.

However, they still need some water to survive and thrive. When succulents actively grow and produce new leaves during summer, you should water them every 10-14 days.

When the plants aren’t actively growing in winter or other cold months, you can reduce the watering frequency to once a month or even less.

Sunlight Is Still Key

Being hardy doesn’t mean that these succulents don’t need sunlight. Like any other plant, hardy succulents also require adequate sunlight to stay healthy and strong.

Most of these plants prefer bright, indirect light throughout the day. If you are growing your succulent outdoors, ensure it gets at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

If that isn’t possible, you can use artificial grow lights to supplement the sunlight your succulent is receiving.

Consider using high-quality artificial lights such as LED lights or fluorescent bulbs for better results.

Keep the light source at least 12 inches away from the succulent to avoid burning its leaves and flowers.

Can Hardy Succulents Survive in Hot Climates?

Given that these succulents are well adapted to cold climates, many assume they cannot survive in hot environments. This isn’t the case.

Most hardy succulents can tolerate high temperatures for short periods and cope well if the other growth conditions are right.

A sedum exposed to sunlight.
Protecting them from strong winds is advisable.

However, if you live in a hot climate and want to grow these plants without, ensure they have access to plenty of shade, especially during summer.

Protecting them from strong winds is advisable since they can cause excessive drying out and damage their delicate leaves.

Keep in mind that these plants require more frequent watering during summer than they do during winter.

Common Hardy Succulents

Depending on your region’s climate and preferences, you can choose from different types of hardy succulents. Here are some of the most popular ones:

1. Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks)

These low-maintenance succulents look great in rock gardens or containers. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors and can tolerate freezing temperatures. Many people love to use them in winter decorations.

2. Echeveria

These gorgeous succulents are rosette-like and come in various colors, including pink, purple, red, and orange. They can tolerate cold temperatures but need some protection in very cold environments.

3. Aeonium

These succulents are perfect for those looking for a showy yet low-maintenance plant. Aeoniums come in various shapes and sizes and can tolerate cold and hot temperatures. Their flowers are usually yellow or orange and can attract pollinators to your garden.

4. Sedums

Sedums are popular hardy succulents that can tolerate both cold and hot temperatures. They are low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants in various colors, such as pink, purple, and yellow. They have an upright growth habit and look great in rock gardens or containers.

5. Red Yucca

Red Yucca is another popular hardy succulent that can tolerate cold temperatures. It produces colorful foliage and blooms long-lasting flowers throughout the year. It is a great choice for an evergreen plant with minimal care requirements.

A red yucca flower.
Protecting them from strong winds is advisable.

PS: The best way to choose a hardy succulent is by starting with the frost-tolerant cacti you already know. Take time to research the plants before you buy them to be sure they will survive in your region. That way, you won’t end up with a plant that doesn’t match the weather conditions of your area.

Final Thoughts

Overall, hardy succulents are low-maintenance plants that can survive in a wide range of climates with minimal care.

Although they require less protection from frost than other succulent varieties, they still need to be cared for and maintained to thrive like other houseplants.

Follow the simple tips outlined above to ensure your hardy succulents stay healthy and strong throughout the year.

Remember that proper watering and fertilizing are essential for their growth and development.

Last update on 2023-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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