Succulents are resilient and can look beautiful all year round, but there are some times of the year they become inactive. You need to know when to expect their active growing season and the dormant period to adjust appropriate care techniques.
Different succulents grow at different rates within a year, depending on the temperature. Some of them can become dormant and grow slower when the weather is too hot or too cold and turn active again when the temperatures are ideal for their growth. Most succulent species tend to thrive in the temperate weather of the spring and fall.
Most succulents can also be put into two categories: summer growers and winter growers. Summer growers are succulents that grow in the hot months of summer and become dormant in the winter. On the contrary, winter growers grow actively in the cold of winter and slow down in the summer. It is not recommended to repot your succulents during their dormancy and disturb their "deep sleep."
Check out this succulent dormancy table below to get a rough idea of the dormant period for different succulent genera.
The temperatures at which succulents go dormant vary depending on the species. Sempervivums are cold-hardy, can tolerate frost, and might go dormant at below-freezing temperatures. But Echeverias are more tender and can go dormant at a higher temperature. Some signs indicating that a succulent starts "sleeping" is that it stops producing new growth completely. The leaves might turn yellow or brown and either drop or hang limply off the sides of the succulent stem. In some rosette succulent species, the rosettes might contract.
It is important to research and determine which time of the year your succulents tend to go dormant, so you do not give it too much water and accidentally kill it. When a "summer growing" succulent starts its dormant period in the winter, it enters a survival mode and stops growing actively. Therefore, it does not need a lot of water. Give it a little water if you notice the leaves get dry and wrinkled. Otherwise, in most cases, you do not even need to water it at all and just leave it alone until its growing season comes around.
It is different for "winter growing" succulents. They go dormant in the heat of summer but still need water during this time to help their roots remain cool and prevent the leaves from drooping. More importantly, if you grow your succulents indoors, they most likely never go dormant. You can continue to water them on the same schedule all year round.
Understanding succulent dormancy is a critical part of providing great succulent care. If you are concerned about the health of one of your succulents, check the calendar and succulent dormancy table. If you find the plant is often dormant at this time of year, do not make any dramatic care changes. Wait for it to resume active growth before you cut it back or change its care. You may well discover that it was not suffering but simply dormant.
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus