While many Instagram photos show succulents growing happily indoors, they tend to do better in outdoor conditions over the summer. When Chicago's winter temperatures roll in, even the hardiest varieties tend to shrivel up and disappear under the snow. Just bringing your succulents indoors can keep them alive, but a little extra care will help them thrive until spring returns again.
Invest in a Quality Light
Don't expect even the most south- and east-facing windows to provide enough light for strong and healthy succulent growth. Most succulents commonly kept as houseplants require a lot of sunlight each day, and they rapidly lose leaves and their unique coloration in dimmer environments. You don't need an expensive or specific plant light for good results. One or two daylight LED bulbs offering at least the equivalent of 100 watts each in clamp lights provide plenty of light for a collection of succulents. For larger collections or more stylish lighting options, look for LED and fluorescent fixtures offering a few hundred equivalent watts of output.
Grab a Watering Tray or Use Your Bathtub
When you're overwintering succulents indoors, they only need a fraction of the water required for outdoor summer growth. Still, when it's time for a good watering, you'll need to soak each pot until water runs heavily through the drainage holes to ensure the roots are evenly supplied. This is easiest when you can move the plants to a high-sided storage container, watering tray or even your bathtub, so the pots can soak and drain over the course of 15 minutes or so.
Reduce Watering Significantly
Succulents only need the occasional watering when overwintered indoors, even in very dry and warm environments. Try to feel the weight of a freshly-watered pot and then wait until the plant is significantly lighter as you lift it — a sign that the soil is dry and ready for water. Keeping your succulents in thinner plastic pots over the winter makes this easier. Other signs a succulent is ready for water include slightly drooping leaves or wrinkling.
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