Succulent dormancy in a nutshell

Introduction

With the seasons changing so quickly, some succulents are waking up, while others are going to sleep. Truth be told, succulents love spring and fall best. In this post:

  • We’ll explain succulent dormancy 
  • Provide care tips for dormant succulents
  • Show examples of succulents just waking from dormancy 

Crassula ovata ‘Lemon & Lime’ waking in October from summer dormancy, their lemon-yellow variegation starting to appear.

What is succulent dormancy?

Dormancy refers to the plant’s growing season. In simplest terms, dormancy means that they have hit the pause button and have slowed down. 

Succulents are categorized into two groups:  winter growers and summer growers. 

  • Winter growers are succulents that are summer dormant. They thrive in late September and grow until freezing temperatures set in, then pause until late February/early March, when they’ll thrive again until May.  
  • Summer growers are succulents that are winter dormant. They’ll pause from late October to mid-February.

Why is succulent dormancy Important?

Knowing when your succulent is dormant is important so that you can provide proper care. For example, a winter dormant succulent requires much less water than a summer dormant succulent.  

What are the signs of a dormant succulent?

Identifying a dormant succulent can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for. Some tell-tale signs include:

  • Little to no new growth
  • Leaves change color
  • Drooping leaves

How do you care for a dormant succulent?

Some basic rules apply when caring for a dormant succulent, but it depends on whether the species is winter or summer dormant. Sometimes indoor succulents won’t go dormant at all!

Here’s the general rule of thumb:

  • Winter dormant succulents need little to no water. If they’re in indoor containers, you may need to water very minimally every 2-4 weeks.
  • Summer dormant succulents need to be watered much like you would water a non-dormant succulent. Remember, it’s hot outside, so dirt and soil will dry quicker! 

Waking from dormancy. Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ leaves turn black in late spring/early summer, then begin waking late September/early October, their centers turning green.

Which succulents are winter dormant and which are summer dormant?

The table below categorizes popular succulent species into winter and summer growers.

Winter Growers
(Summer dormant succulents)
Summer Growers 
(Winter dormant succulents)
AdromischusAgave
AeoniumEcheveria
AloeEuphorbia
AnacampserosLithops
CotyledonMonadenium
CrassulaPachypodium
DudleyaSempervivum
Gasteria
Graptopetalum
Haworthia
Kalanchoe
Pachyveria
Sansevieria
Sedum
Senecio

Key takeaways

You might not even notice that your succulents have gone dormant and have been caring for them as if they weren’t taking their yearly pause. As long as they’re looking good, keep doing what you’re doing! Just remember:

  1. Succulents prefer spring or fall—if it’s summer or winter, check our table above to see if your succulent might be entering dormancy.
  2. Dormant succulents may change color, grow much slower, or have drooping leaves.
  3. Water winter dormant succulents sparingly—less often and not too much at a time.
  4. Water summer dormant succulents regularly (similar to your summer growers), since it’s hot outside and water will evaporate.
  5. Indoor succulents might not even go dormant, but you know what to look for if they do–slower growth!

Visit us!

Stop by The Cactique to see what we’re potting this month!



Categories: Succulent Care, Succulent Dormancy

Tags: ,

1 reply

  1. This is so interesting. Very helpful in knowing how much water to give my plants and when depending on the time of year.

    Liked by 1 person

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