Six tips to prevent a disastrous demise.


People love succulents – plants that store water in their stems and leaves – because they look cool and need little care. Please note, however, that "little care" does not mean "no care." Even stalwart plants like these require certain conditions or they will die. Assuming you're not a fiendish person who kills cool plants on purpose, the following directions will prevent a tragic and needless end.

Find out if your plant takes freezing cold.

Some succulents – sedums, hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum sp.), prickly pear, many yuccas, and some agaves – tolerate temps well below freezing. You can leave them outside for the winter. Most, however, will quickly turn to mush if you do that and must spend winter indoors.

Place them near a bright window.

They don't need direct sun, but they do need bright light. A south-facing window is best, while a north-facing one is the least desirable. But even a north window is better than none at all.

Do not fertilize succulents now.

Shorter days, cooler temps, and dimmer indoor light sends succulents into winter dormancy. Sleeping plants do not need food.

Water very little.

Succulents need little water when they're growing in the summer. It therefore follows they need even less when they're not growing in fall and winter. Keep the soil on the dry side. By that, I mean water no more than once a month or if you see leaves shriveling. Overwatering is the number one killer of succulents.

Make sure the pot has a drainage hole.

If the soil stays wet for long, the roots will rot and it's bye-bye, succulent.

Keep these cool plants cool.

Temps between 55 and 65 degrees are want you want. In a warmer room, they may wake up prematurely.