Sustaining Succulents: Keep Them Alive All Year

Incorporating succulents into garden and home designs have been trendy for the last few years and for a good reason. They are low maintenance, take up as much or as little space as you want, and add personality to wherever they are. To keep your succulents looking their very best all year round, there are several tips to keep in mind.


What Are Succulents?

Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves, stems, or both. That’s why they can tolerate conditions with little water. You can find them growing naturally on every continent, except for Antarctica. Cacti and succulents are often referred to in the same sentence — Yet cacti are actually a subcategory of succulent plants.

Succulents are diverse and come in many shapes, colors, and sizes. They can be broken up into two categories: hardy and soft/tender. Hardy succulents, like stonecrop and hens and chicks, can withstand freezing temperatures while soft ones, like string of pearls or aloe, can briefly withstand freezing temperatures but can be killed when temperatures stay low.

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Transitioning Succulents Indoors and Outdoors

We love succulents because they’re so versatile. Not only do they add a tropical flair to your yard, but they also make great houseplants — or they can do both!

Hardy succulents can stay outside all year long since they can handle lower temperatures. If this is your first time planting them, place hardy succulents in your yard early in the season. By doing this, it will allow the plants to establish themselves before winter comes around. Consider adding a layer of mulch to help them get through their first winter.

We can bring tender succulents indoors for the winter, to take away any risk of potential harm by frost, and put them back outside for the summer. To make this transition, ease indoor succulents into their new outdoor home. While your succulents are indoors, they will benefit from a grow light or a location near a south-facing window to supplement the lack of sunlight. In the spring, ease them back outside by placing them in a shady spot outside with filtered sunlight, then every week, introduce them to a couple more hours of daylight.

When it’s time to bring them back in during the fall, check for signs of pests. If you see flies, for example, change the soil before bringing inside.

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How to Care for Succulents

Containers with succulents in your home add a finishing touch to the design. When growing them outside, whether you’re using hardy or tender succulents, they look great as focal-points, groundcovers, in containers as patio accents, or used in living sculptures, like fences or wreaths. Here are some things to consider when growing succulents indoors and outdoors.

  • Encourage good drainage. Use a coarse potting mix, even a special cactus and succulent mix, and make sure it is evenly moistened before adding it to your container, which should have drainage holes.
  • Choose an appropriate container. The pot should be 10% larger in diameter than the width of your succulent. For example, if your succulent is four inches wide, put it in a pot that's 4.5 inches in diameter.
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  • Fertilize at least once a year. Do so in spring as new growth begins and perhaps again in late summer. Be sure to choose a succulent-specific fertilizer formula.
  • Succulents love sunshine. If they don’t get enough of it, they can grow “leggy,” which is when they become long and stretched out since they tried to reach for the sun. In general, succulents with traces of pink, purple, and red need more sun — six or more hours each day — rather than those without colorful foliage. Although succulents love the sun, they can still burn. Look for signs of discoloration on the leaves, which can indicate a stressed plant.
  • When watering, soak the soil, then let it dry. This makes sure you’re not overwatering the plants, reducing the risk of root rot.

We love these versatile plants since there seems to be a succulent for every gardening need! Stop by one of our locations to pick up some succulents for your home.


About SummerWinds Nursery: SummerWinds Garden Centers is a leading high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, SummerWinds operates retail nurseries in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, and in Silicon Valley, California, making it one of the largest independent retail nursery companies in the west. SummerWinds appeals to both the serious and casual gardeners, with a broad selection of premium gardening products and a friendly and knowledgeable staff.