Getting To Know Winter-Loving Aloes

It is during the cold winter months when we seek colors in our garden. We want that pop of color to remind us that spring and summer will come soon and everything will be bright and cheery again. If you love succulents, aloes are a great choice. While all the other plants are taking a rest and going dormant, the aloes will bloom with their spires of flowers in fiery colors.

Though not all aloes flower during the winter, many of them do. These range from tall plants with trunks such as the Aloe barberae (Aloe bainesii) or Aloe ferox, to stemless rosettes such as Aloe vanbalenii or Aloe microstigma and finally, to dwarf plants such as Aloe humilis.

These winter-blooming aloes come from South Africa, which lies in the southern hemisphere and has its winter season at the opposite time of the year. This means that while the States is suffering from the harsh winter cold from December to March, South African flowers are blooming. Regardless of which hemisphere the plants are in, they flower in response to the changing day length so the plant flowering in January in our gardens would be flowering in July back in South Africa.

Why do so many species bloom in the winter? We believe that part of the reason lies with their primary pollinators, the nectar-loving sunbirds. During the summer season, there is a lot of competition for the birds’ attention and they would not prefer aloes over the other flower-bearing plants. By flowering in the winter, when the competition is gone, the aloes are assured that they would get noticed by the sunbirds. This is crucial because the sunbirds need fuel to make it through the winter. On top of that, the aloes will get pollinated.

In the US, we don’t have sunbirds but we do have hummingbirds and the nectar-producing flowers also appeal to them. If your garden is full of aloes, rest assured that you will attract as many hummingbirds as your garden can accommodate during winter.

All aloes are native to Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and islands in the Indian Ocean (principally Madagascar), and it is not a coincidence that many of the species in cultivation are specifically South African. Because South Africa is farthest from the equator, the seasons are more pronounced like in North America—this means shorter days and cold spells in the winter months.

An aloe that grew in the tropics could turn to mush when the temperature drops to a freezing point. On the other hand, many of the South African varieties will survive during the coldest of months. There are limits to this to how much cold they can take, of course. Very few aloes (even those from South Africa) can tolerate the temperature if it dropped below 25 degrees Fahrenheit but many can take as low as 29 degrees.

If you leave near a coast, you have a better chance of growing more varieties of the aloe because the winter temperature is less extreme than when you go farther inland.

5 Tips On Caring For Succulents in Winter

When the temperature drops to below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, it might be a signal for you to bring your succulent plants indoors. This will allow the plants like CAL Farms 2″ Beautiful Assorted Variety Succulents to grow healthily without being subjected to the harsh weather conditions that winter brings. Though you can choose to grow cold-hardy succulents if you live in areas that have cold weather all-year-round, the lack of diversity might bore you.

Start deciding which succulent plants you want to bring in around August or September. Of course, transferring your plants inside is not as easy as it sounds. We don’t have as much space indoors as we have outdoors and it might even be a logical nightmare to bring the plants indoors, water them there, and find enough sunlight for them.

Here are 5 tips on providing proper care to your succulents in winter:

1. Water the Plants Outside Before Bringing Them In

It will be a hassle to water the plants indoors because where will the water go once it drains? It will take a lot of your time to bring the plants to the sink and wait for them to stop dripping. What you can do is to water them outside for one last time before bringing them indoors. That way, you’ve saved one water cycle and your house will stay nice and dry.

2. Use a Well-Draining Soil

To make it easier for the plants to transition from your outdoor garden to the insides of your home, you must use a well-draining soil and ensure that your container has drainage holes. Succulents will grow better indoors if they have the right soil and the right container. You can mix your own well-draining soil or you can use some premixed ones, so you won’t have to slave for hours finding the right balance.

3. Prepare the Pot for Inside Use

You are not only bringing the succulents inside, you’re bringing the pots and containers, too. Prepare the pots by removing any leaves or debris from the pot. If the pots and containers have dried out leaves in them, remove those and reapply your top dressing. This will make sure that the pot looks nice; as if it is new again.

4. Use the Right Amount of Water

Many succulents are dormant during the winter, so they don’t really need that much water. Some can grow actively and demand less attention during the winter. Isn’t that the best? Before winter even comes, you need to check the variety of succulents you have, so you can read about the best way to care for them during the season. If your succulents grow during the winter, they will most likely need water more often. But keep in mind that the general rule is to water the plants only when the soil is completely dried.

5. Get Plenty of Sunlight

The most difficult thing to provide to your plants during the winter is sunlight. Place your succulents near a window that gets the most light. Ideally, the window should get the brightest light all day. The winter days are shorter, so you need to make sure that the succulents are exposed to whatever kind of sunlight there is for at least six hours a day. You can also use grow lights, though that will be a lot of work.

How to Successfully Take Care of Succulent Plants in Winter

Many people don’t consider the rising and dropping temperatures in their areas when they decide to take care of succulent plants. This could be your biggest mistake. In order to better take care and maintain these plants, you have to understand that subjecting them to varying degrees of temperature will invariably affect their growth and their aesthetics.

Basically, there are winter-hardy plants, which means these succulents can take care of themselves even in the lowest of temperatures. If you have Sedum (Sedum sp.), Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum sp.), Ice Plant (Delosperma sp.), Lewisia (Lewisia sp.), or Yucca (Yucca sp.) in your collection, there is no need to worry at all. You may notice them wither, shrink, and change color during the colder months, but this is part of their process in preparation for the winter temperature.

For less hardy varieties of succulent plants, the problem remains to be their capacity to survive in the combination of cold weather and wet and soggy soil. One of the few true enemies of succulent plants like CAL Farms 20 of 2” Beautiful Rosettes Succulents is wet soil, and this is not impossible during the winter season because the land and the surroundings are wet with melted snow and rain.

Don’t fret, though, because succulent plants can still live through the winter season as long as you can keep the soil somehow dry. Here are some other tips on how you can take care of succulent plants in winter at freezing temperatures:

1. Keep the soil dry.

When you are about to enter the winter season, you should keep the soil dry by not supplementing with water and feeding around fall. Remember that once the winter season starts, there is a very good chance that the air, the soil, and the surroundings will be damp and moist. This is certainly not something succulent plants need. Since they hate too much water, feeding them with it when the soil they are planted in is about to be damp and moist will not help with their health.

2. Make sure of adequate air circulation.

Place the succulent plants in areas where they can get as much air as possible. Prevent putting them in dark, dingy, and cramped spaces because they won’t be able to grow and survive the cold temperature there. Adequate air circulation means there is enough “room” for your plants to breath.

3. Put the plants in sheltered areas.

If your winter season is a rainy one, it is best to look for a shaded area where you can place your succulent plants. There might be a sunny location in your porch. This is a good place for your succulents because they can get the needed vitamins from the sun even amid the harsh conditions of winter.

4. Improve the soil’s drainage.

All succulent plants require the kind of soil with good drainage. This means that your succulents’ soil must have proper drainage in order for the soil not to get soggy and wet. You need to improve the conditions of your succulents’ soil because this can determine the overall health of the plant. Not only that, during the colder months, a soil with proper drainage will allow the succulents to survive. You can add sand or Perma-Till to improve the drainage conditions of the soil.

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