How to care for outside succulents in cold winter

How to care for outside succulents in winter

As we all know, the succulent is a ''lazy'' plant that can be easy to care for. However, winter is coming, and it is tough for some succulent plants to survive. Suppose you prefer to keep them outside. Then, you must take some protective measures to help them, or the cold and frosty weather will kill them, especially the soft succulents!

This guide will introduce succulent types and cover detailed guidance, allowing you to learn how to care for outdoor succulents in winter and help them survive.

Mexican Fence Post Cactus

Soft Succulents & Hardy Succulents

All growers should know the meaning of soft and hardy succulents before expanding their collection or garden designs. Generally speaking, soft succulents usually grow in warm spring and fall, and they need protection in cold winter. Hardy succulents can tolerate winter frost. 

hardy succulents

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It's critical to be aware of what growing zone you live in, which you may determine using the USDA growing zones by your zip code.
Soft succulents survive in zones 9 and above (11.11 ℃ or 20 ℉), while hardy succulents can survive down to Zone 4 or 5 (-11.11 ℃ or -20 ℉).

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So Does It Mean You Can't Grow Soft Succulents Outside in Winter?

Of course, not! Please keep reading and let us help you! The most challenging problem you must conquer is providing suitable heat for plants. Thus, your succulent plants would appreciate your care after this protection before frost.

How to provide heat for potted succulents?

1. Potted succulents should be repotted underground before the first frost, at least a month in advance, as it takes time to establish roots and adjust to their surroundings. 

2. Prepare plant stands and the greenhouse outside. Set them in a sunny location if available. This helps you create more space to organize potted succulents. 

Cover the greenhouse with winter cloth. You can add two layers as necessary, or use one blanket instead of one layer of winter cloth in cold winter. The covers help live succulents keep more moisture and warmth. 

Good air circulation is also essential in winter. Ensure the greenhouse has an open window or circulated holes while shopping.

Winter Protection for Succulents

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Cover your potted succulents individually if you only have a few plants. And move them far away from the water ponds.

cover succulents with winter cloth

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3. If you have enough budget, you can put a heater in the greenhouse and try to avoid the heater facing succulents. Please turn it on only on nights, or the degree is down to 20 ℉(for soft succulents). 

Attention here! Using the heater to provide a constant 25℉ for your live succulents. Please do not rush to give them a lot in a short time, quickly causing extreme temperature differences in winter, which will damage the succulents far sooner. 

How to provide heat for the grounded garden?

1. Removing the dead/dried bottom leaves before frost is essential for grounded planting as it can prevent the bottom leaves from getting moldy after snow or rain. You know this isn't good for growth. 

2. You can drive wooden or metal stakes into the ground and cover them with plastic fabric. A simple greenhouse is done! Cover it with a blanket and ensure good air circulation is also worth attention!

green house outside for plants

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Other Care Tips

Besides providing enough heat for succulent plants in winter, you need to know the watering behavior.

Soft succulents can store some water in the leaves and roots. Keep the potting soil dry; no water in this period is recommended, even if the leaves are shriveled. And only water your hardy succulents on sunny days; probably once a month would be fine.

One more care tip here! You can grow your plants or succulents in black planter pots or cover the surface with black top-dressing rocks. This does work! You can click here to learn more benefits of top dressings


Soft succulents in winter will grow higher to beg for more sunlight. If the etiolation is not terrible, this doesn't kill your plants because it can be fixed in spring. You can learn How to Fix Leggy / Etiolated Succulents here. You can use grow light to fix this condition to keep the compact and beautiful shape.


I hope this care guide is helpful for those colder area growers because I've been through succulents frost in winter!  Suppose you want to order some succulents but are concerned about the succulents being affected by frost in transit. We offer a 72-hour heating pack that will protect succulents for sure, and you can add it to your order at checkout. Happy winter planting!

soft succulents


1 thought on “How to care for outside succulents in cold winter

Laurie G Shuldt

I have a Bunny Ear succulent that came frozen. I am not sure what type of soil to use. I now have it indoors under plant lights. I fell in love with these for Easter gifts, but I don’t know how to revive 😔😔😔

March 24, 2023 at 06:30am

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