Tips to Care Succulents in Winters

When you run to get your precious succulents home before the temperature drops too low, don’t you sometimes wish there were succulents that could shake off the cold of winter? The good news is, there is! Some hardy juicy three outdoors all year round, where it snows and sleet and falls well below zero! The less good news is that you did not plant them six months ago. But there is always next year to plan! Let’s take a good look at winter success and how to choose them for your garden.

Juicy in cold climates

What are winter succulents?

We all know that water expands when it freezes. That is why ice floats, and fish and animals can live in a frozen lake or in the Arctic Sea. But have you ever wondered why the water in a plant doesn’t freeze, expand, and tear right through the cell walls to finish the plant? The short answer is, it often does. Thus, plants that do not tolerate freezing temperatures pass away. Winter succulents and all plants that survive freezing weather form a type of antifreeze protein that prevents the water in your cells from crystallizing when exposed to cold temperatures. The better the plant produces these cryoprotectants

Many succulents pass away when exposed to frost. They are called frost-sensitive. But some succulents are native to climates that routinely fall well below freezing. These plants gradually build up cryoprotectants as the weather cools from summer to winter. Those varieties that survive severe cold without shelter or intervention of a gardener are considered hardy juicy, or sometimes just winter juicy.

There are many degrees of winter hardiness. Some plants only tolerate occasional brief immersion below freezing. Others remain below 0°f (-18°C) despite prolonged periods. How much winter cold a plant can survive determines its cold hardness. The cold values of a winter weather are described in relation to a climatic zone. USDA climates are determined by the average coldest winter temperature that typically occurs in a geographic area. Knowing in which climatic zone you work in the garden, you can determine which plants will survive a typical winter in your garden. If you are in the US and do not know your climate zone, enter your zip code on this USDA website here.

Using the USDA Climate Zone Charts

If you live in the US, use your climate zone as a guide to succulents and plants in general that will survive your winters. You can still get a good value from the USDA climate zone chart, even if you don’t live in the US. Climates are based on the average coldest winter temperature in a geographic region, with lower numbers corresponding to colder climates. If you live where winters usually drop to 0° to 10°F (-17° to -12°C), you are in a climate zone 7. Use the picture above to determine which climatic zone is suitable for your garden.

The winter hardiness of a plant is usually indicated as a set of climatic zones. For example, agave ‘Queen Victoria’ is hardy in zones 7-9, while Sempervivum ‘Desert Bloom’ is hardy in zones 5-10. Each number zone in the area is where this plant will survive the winter. The agave is hardy in zones 7, 8 and 9. The sempervivum thrives in zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. So if you are gardening in zone 7, any plant would be good for you. But a zone 6 gardener would have to bring the agave indoors for the winter. The fact that the agave is not hardy to zone 10 suggests that it actually needs more winter cold to inspire than such a mild climate would afford.

Acclimatize Winter Juicy to Cold Naturally

Winter succulents and all cold hardy plants gradually build up their cryoprotectants as the weather slowly cools. It is part of the plant’s natural response to stress. If you find that you have sheltered a cold, hardy tree indoors, don’t fix it by pushing it outside during a blizzard! Indoors, it did not produce cryoprotectants. Instead, keep protecting it indoors to end the winter. Then come spring, put it outside and let it grow naturally. Leave it outdoors for the coming winter so that it experiences the full spectrum of weather for which it has evolved. In this way, the plant develops the cryoprotectants it needs to survive the winter.

Keep in mind that just because a tree is classified as hardy in your climate, it won’t necessarily survive. First, their climatic zone is based on average winter lows in the region. An unusually cold winter can finish a plant that would normally survive the typical winter. Secondly, winter hardiness refers to a plant that grows in the soil. A potted plant will experience a full zone colder in winter than a plant in the ground right next to it. Well isolated from the surrounding earth, the roots of a plant growing in the ground have much more protection from the cold. Move potted plants from the walls, to the floor. And move them close to the side of the house to ride the winter. Check out this post from DroughtSmartPlants.com about the preparation of their juicy containers for the winter.

Because many successors rest for the winter, and because winter is often accompanied by rain and snow, they will water their winter success in winter much less often than in summer.

In winter, watch for signs of predators. Deer, rabbits, squirrels and more are far more stressed out in winter and can feast on succulent ones they usually ignore.

Now that you know about hardy succulents, I’m sure you want to know which ones thrive in cold climates. Check out Sempervivum and Sedum for the most famous winter success. Check out my top 10 hardy succulents!

P.S. Please subscribe to The Successful Eclectic for more successful care, tips and DIYs! You will receive my FREE course, 7 Steps to Successful success. Thank you!

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