Watering Succulents in Winter—Frequency and Quantity Guidelines

As the temperature drops and daylight diminishes, your succulent plants require a shift in care to thrive during the winter months.

It’s important to know when and how much to water your succulents in colder climates, as this can make a huge difference between a plant that thrives and one that just gets by.

These hardy yet delicate plants store water in their leaves, stems, or roots, which provides them with a reservoir to draw upon in times of drought. However, in winter, their growth slows, and their need for water decreases.

Watering her cute jade plant

Adapting your watering habits to the season’s change is crucial. Overwatering during winter is a risk you want to avoid, as it can lead to root rot and fungal diseases because the plants can’t take up water as efficiently, and evaporation rates drop.

So, it’s essential for you to watch your plants closely and adjust your care to their specific needs during these cooler, darker months.

In this article, we’ll share how to water your succulents just right in winter so you can help them through their dormancy period, setting the stage for a vibrant and healthy growth spurt come spring.

Understanding Succulent Dormancy in Winter

As winter sets in, you’ll notice your succulents undergoing significant changes.

It’s key to understand that many succulents enter a dormancy phase during this time, adjusting their growth and water requirements to fit the colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours.

Identifying Dormant Succulents

To spot dormant succulents, you should look for signs like slowed or paused growth. The leaves might look less plump and could even change color.

These changes are the plant’s way of conserving resources, a natural adaptation to the cold. Unlike during the active growth seasons of spring and summer, dormant succulents need much less water.

Factors Influencing Succulent Dormancy

Succulent dormancy during winter is influenced by a combination of environmental, physiological, and genetic factors. Understanding these factors can help enthusiasts and gardeners ensure the health and longevity of their succulent collections through the colder months.


Temperature is the main factor affecting succulent dormancy. Many succulents slow down and conserve energy in response to cooler temperatures.

Sudden changes in temperature, rather than the cold itself, can also trigger dormancy. Consistent cold signals the plant to slow down and prepare for a period of minimal growth.

Light Levels

The decrease in daylight during winter months plays a significant role—decreased photosynthesis activity due to less sunlight results in slower growth and reduced energy requirements.

Plant Genetics

Finally, what type of succulent it is”— whether it’s a summer grower or winter grower — also affects how it reacts to the changing seasons.

Some species are winter-dormant, while others may actually enter a growth phase in cooler temperatures if they are native to areas where winters are mild, and summers are hot and dry.

Seasonal Changes from Fall to Winter

The shift from fall to winter is a critical time for adjusting your watering schedule. A good rule of thumb is to cut back on watering, letting the soil dry out completely between sessions. It’s best to water lightly, especially during the coldest times, to avoid freezing.

By understanding these aspects of succulent dormancy in winter, you’re better equipped to care for your plants, ensuring they pull through until the return of spring’s warmth.

Water Requirements and Techniques

As we’ve shared, taking care of your succulents in winter means tweaking your watering methods and schedule to suit their dormancy needs.

Watering Indoor vs. Outdoor Succulents

Indoor succulents usually need water less often in winter due to lower evaporation rates and their slowed growth. Keeping them in spots with good indirect sunlight helps them make do with less water.

Outdoor succulents, though, might need a bit of water during warmer spells, particularly if they’re in full sun.

  • Indoors: Water once every 2-3 weeks or when the soil is dry to the touch at least 1 inch deep.
  • Outdoors: Monitor the natural precipitation; water sparingly if there is a month-long dry spell.

Determining Water Amount and Frequency

To figure out how much and how often to water, you should watch your succulents closely. Signs they need water include wrinkled leaves or a stem leaning towards the light. Here’s what to consider:

  • Arid climates: Less frequent watering as winter air can be drier, yet cooler temperatures moderate soil drying.
  • Amount of light: Succulents in dimmer locations need less water than those in bright spots.

Appropriate Watering Methods

To water your succulents correctly in winter, consider these methods:

  1. Soak and Dry Method: Water deeply until it runs out of the drainage holes, then let the soil dry completely before the next watering.
  2. Squeeze Bottle or Dropper: Use for precise watering, focusing on the base of the plant to avoid water getting trapped between leaves.

Adjusting your approach based on your environment and succulent type helps keep the right moisture balance through the cooler months.

How to Prevent Water-Related Issues During Winter

Watering succulents in winter is a balancing act to avoid issues like root rot while making sure they’re hydrated. You’ll want to focus on keeping the soil moisture just right and shielding the plants from too much water from snow and rain.

Gardener pouring water to a small echeveria succulent

Avoid Overwatering and Root Rot

To dodge root rot, keep tabs on the soil’s moisture. Overwatering can cause soggy conditions that succulents, adapted to dry environments, can’t handle for long.

Make sure pots have good drainage, and avoid letting the pot sit in a water-filled saucer. Again, you’ll need to reduce the frequency of watering, allowing the soil to dry out completely between sessions.

In winter, you might water as rarely as once a month, depending on your climate and succulent type.

Watch Out for Signs of Underwatering and Overwatering

Knowing the signs of both underwatering (like shriveled leaves) and overwatering (such as soft, discolored leaves) helps you adjust your watering routine as needed.

Protect Your Succulents Against Snow and Rain

For outdoor succulents in rainy or snowy areas, consider moving them under cover to avoid excess water, which can lead to rot.

If moving them isn’t an option, a clear, waterproof cover that lets light through but keeps precipitation out can be a good solution.

Post-Winter Care and Transition

As spring approaches, it’s time to shift your care strategy as your succulents wake up from dormancy and start growing more actively.

Adjusting Watering for Spring Growth

With the return of spring, you’ll need to start watering more frequently as your succulents kick back into growth mode.

Pay close attention to soil moisture, and when you water, make sure it’s thorough, encouraging deep root growth.

You can find out more about methods of checking soil moisture by reading this post!

Monitoring Post-Winter Recovery

As it gets warmer, keep an eye on your succulents for signs of bouncing back, like new leaves or buds. During this stage, it’s crucial to check the soil temperature and not just the air temperature, as cold soil can slow down plant growth.

So, again, you’ll need to keep an eye out for overwatering, as this can be detrimental, especially if the succulents aren’t growing at full speed. It’s a good practice to closely observe and adjust to each succulent’s individual needs for optimal care.