Soft Succulents & Hardy Succulents

Soft Succulents & Hardy Succulents

Succulents are some of the most popular plants out there. Echeverias, aloe, yucca, there are dozens of these plants, although that means there are a few things that you might not know about them. That includes the two major types of succulents: soft succulents, and hardy succulents.


While they’re pretty similar in several ways, soft succulents and hardy succulents aren’t actually different physically. It’d be pretty easy to assume soft and hard succulents are, well, soft and hard. It’s a bit trickier than that, with the two groups having different temperatures, climates, preferred seasons, and more. It can be hard to know how to need to take care for your succulent, or even what group it falls into.

So, let’s look at the differences between the two: 

Soft and Hardy Succulents

The biggest difference between soft and hard succulents are the conditions where the plants can survive. After all, succulents grow across hundreds of countries in thousands of slightly different climates. Hot, cold, wet, dry, humid, and much more, there are countless little differences.

That’s why some succulents have grown to like either colder or warmer climates. The group that’s adapted to colder temperatures are hard (or hardy) succulents. These grew or evolved from plants in conditions near to mountains or colder areas. 

As for soft (or tender) succulents, they’re native to warmer climates, or those that don’t have many cold seasons. Soft succulents don’t do well under cold temperatures, oftentimes even dying when it gets cold enough. Unluckily, while hardy succulents can survive both hot and cold climates, soft succulents can only survive in warmer climates.

You can usually tell whether or not a plant is hard or soft with a USDA Hardiness Zone Map. Soft succulents survive in zones 9 and above (-6.7 degrees C or 20 degrees F), while hard succulents can survive all the way down to Zone 4 or 5 (-34.4 degrees C or -20 degrees F).

Through this, you’ll be able to see you and your succulent’s home’s.

Is Your Succulent Soft or Hard(y)?

Soft succulents, as knowns as Tender succulents, are featured by the wide range of shapes and colors. They are less tolerant of low temperature compared with hardy succulents. Some of the most common soft succulents are Echeverias, Crassulas(Jade Plants), Aeoniums, Tender Sedum, and Senecios. Most of them can't survive outdoor in frost area. In USDA Zone 10+ areas(frost free area), nearly all soft succulents can be grow outside. So it's important to figure out which zone you are in before picking up varieties especially in winter.

Hardy succulents can tolerate freezing temperatures down to 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit, or lower. Popular hardy succulents include: Sepervivums(hen and chicks), Queen Victoria Agave, Pink Ice Plants, Parry's Agave, etc. Unlike soft succulents, they thrive and shine in winter, which makes them as great additions to rock succulent garden and grouded succulent garden. 

hen and chick succulents

Care Guide

It’s not really important to know whether you have a soft or hard succulent, until winter or a colder season arrives. While hard succulents can survive both hot and cold temperatures, soft succulents quickly die in these conditions.
It’s important to know whether your succulent is hard or soft, to make sure it survives the cold season. Using the USDA Hardiness Zone Map above, you can usually find your temperature or where your succulent’s from (letting you know whether it’s hard or soft). Afterwards, you can care for your succulent as a hard or soft one.

USDA hardiness zone map


Hard succulents are pretty easy to care for during a cold season. With these plants, you just need to make sure you don’t ignore them when it gets cold. Hard succulents reduce their water intake when its cold, so you’ll need to water the plants less than normal. Other than that, they’ll just go dormant, as they’re built to survive cold temperatures.

Soft succulents are a bit harder to water, so you’ll need to be careful to watch how much water you give them. These plants aren’t just sensitive to the air, but they’re also overly sensitive to water. Cold water can quickly lead to rotting, alongside putting them at more risk to snap, freeze over, or put them into cold shock. When watering soft succulents, you must water a little lighter, usually when the plants are insulated or indoors.



Thanks to how hard outdoors can be for soft succulents, they are much harder to care for during the cold seasons. The number 1 easiest and most effective way to keep them safe is to move them indoors when it gets cold.

The hardest part of keeping them indoors is making sure they get enough sunlight. You obviously don’t have a massive ball of gas shining bright in your home, so you’ll need to make sure both soft and hard succulents get the light they need. Late Fall, around October or November, you can set succulents up indoors, with a growth light or near a window to keep them warm and well lit.

In places with just a few hours of sunlight every day, you’ll likely need a grow light or lamp to keep your plants alive during the cold season. For those with more sunlight, oftentimes leaving succulents near a window is just enough. It’s important to be safer than sorry though.


Click here to learn succulent summer care!