Today I have a few tips for overwintering succulents indoors. I’m not an expert here, it’s just that me and succulents? well we get along!
When people tell me they can’t grow succulents, and ask how I keep them alive, I’m like… well how do you kill them?
I’ve had this jade plant for at least 6 years. It lives outside from early spring to late autumn when I have to bring it in. It’s been beaten by summer sun, hailed on, and endured several light frosts. I have to admit it’s becoming too big to handle, and I’m contemplating what to do with it.
Everyone who sees this giant says it looks like a bonsai tree, and perhaps I could trim it and encourage it to take on more of that form. Well, I’m thinking that may be fun and I might give it a go (a secret tip to follow.)
And then there’s this strange fellow (in a spittoon no less:) I believe a quirky plant deserves a quirky container, don’t you?
Near the end of season, a lot of succulents will put out shoots with flowers on top. Here are two lovelies, one in a thrift-store pottery find, and one in a beaten up rusty enamel cup. I adore enamel, especially the blue.
I was carrying a bit too many items, and unfortunately my lovely set of four teeny tiny terra cotta pots is now three. Argh. But as luck would have it, I recently found two other utterly gorgeous terra cotta pots that might help ease the pain.
OK! lets get to the tips for overwintering succulents, shall we?
Tips for Overwintering Succulents Indoors
- Loosen up! Not the plant … you. Take a “we’ll see what happens” approach. If it doesn’t work, so what? Toss the dang thing! (this was the secret tip ;)
- But yes, when digging a succulent out of the garden or a large outdoor arrangement, loosen the soil around it completely with a trowel. Succulents do not have a deep root system and are quite easily lifted.
- Lift it out of the soil and inspect the root ball. How big is it? With that in mind, gently lower it back into the ground/container and go find a pot to put it in. It should be large enough to hold the root ball plus 1/2 inch of drainage material such as rocks or broken clay pots (see my last photo :( and on top of that, several inches of soil. It should also have holes in the bottom.
- You can purchase special potting soil for cacti and succulents and I’m sure it works perfectly and is probably what you should use. But I use what I have on hand; which is any kind of potting mix I’ve picked up during the summer, or dug out from our compost pile, or stolen from dumped pots!! eek. yes. I did say that. ahem.
- The key thing is good drainage. I can’t say that enough. Your pot has to have holes in the bottom and it has to have good drainage.
- Choose your pot, and then:
- Place rocks or broken clay pieces in the bottom.
- Add enough soil so that when you put the succulent in the pot, the top of the root ball sits about 3/4″ from the top of the pot.
- Carefully lift the succulent out of the ground being careful to not touch it’s leaves and set it in the pot.
- Fill in the sides with soil, gently packing it in until the plant sits firmly upright.
- Pour water over the whole shebang, giving it a really good drink and a good bath at the same time. Set it somewhere safe to drain and dry off.
- Bring it indoors and set it in the sunniest window you have. Water when it feels dry to the touch, but there’s a fine line; I never let mine dry out completely, giving it a good drink and then making sure the excess has drained away.
I should mention that if your succulent has one of those shoots with a bloom forming, you must watch it closely. Sooner or later, teensy tiny black bugs will appear on the buds. I immediately take it out to the garage and shoot it with Raid. I’m not one to play nice with these bugs. After a day or two, spray the dead bugs away with a sprayer filled with water and keep your eye on it in case there are more.
So there you go! Just have fun and enjoy your quirky friend. If it doesn’t make it through the winter, so what … you’ve enjoyed it as long as possible.