How Winter Cold Affects Your Succulents

Mountain Crest Gardens Team
2nd Dec 2014

In this article, we discuss how your succulents will be affected by the winter cold. Effects range from little or no change, to color change, to partial or total loss of leaves. Check out the video below to see examples of these changes.

Succulents with Minimal or No Winter Change

Any plants considered Soft Succulents (Echeveria, Crassula, Aeonium, Kalanchoe, etc) do not change much at all during the winter. These are semi-tropical plants and generally will not survive temperatures below 25-30 F. They need to be indoors during the winter in any location that regularly freezes. Fortunately, they do make great house plants.

For hardy succulents, Rosularia and Jovibarba heuffelii plants exhibit very little change during the winter.

Succulents with Winter Changes

Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks)

Sempervivum respond to the cold primarily by changing color and closing up. Using Tectorum f/Isella as a common example, this succulent appears as a fully open green rosette with red tips when grown in warm conditions. When outdoors during the winter months, it turns mostly red because the pigment helps protect it from the cold. For additional protection, it closes up tight like a little rock. When you open the closed up rosette, you can see that the same green color is still inside.

Thymus

These succulents don't change drastically, but their foliage will thin out somewhat.

Delosperma (Ice Plant)

Ice plants go semi-dormant and lose some of the foliage but not all. They tend to look a bit spindly and ragged by mid-winter.

Hardy Sedum

About half of Hardy Sedum succulents are significantly impacted by the winter cold. Here is how cold affects some of the most common Sedums:

Reflexum - These sedums remain mostly unchanged year-round.

Spurium - In the spring and summer they are lush and green. Starting mid-fall, Spuriums will lose all of the leaves along their stems, but remain evergreen at the tips of the stems through the winter.

Kamtschaticum - These sedums die back completely to protect their roots during the cold months. They drop their leaves, just like a deciduous tree would do. Then all their stems die back. However, if you pull away dead foliage, you will see new growth starting to appear right down at the base of the plants.

Orostachys

Like the Kamtschaticums, these succulents completely die back; that is how they survive the winter. In the spring, they will come back with the large lush rosettes that they have all summer long.

Mentha

These plants also go completely dormant; they will lose all their leaves and the stems will die back. However, under the soil the roots continue to grow vigorously all winter long, so in the spring they will return stronger and denser than the year before.