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Everything you need to know about succulent dormancy

1) What is succulent dormancy?

Dormancy is a time in which plants' development and physical activity are reduced temporarily. Unfavourable changes in the environment, such as extreme temperatures, dryness, and shortened daylight hours, might trigger this. When a succulent enters dormancy, it reduces metabolic activity to preserve energy until the environmental conditions get better.

Extreme frost can induce dormancy in succulents

Depending on the climate, various succulents grow at varying rates over a year. When the weather is excessively hot or cold, some of them can become dormant and grow more slowly, then turn active again when the conditions are right for their growth. Succulents are described as "opportunistic growers" because of this. The majority of succulent plants grow in the spring and fall when the temperature is mild, at around 15-20 degrees Celsius.

The majority of succulents may be divided into two groups: summer growers and winter growers. Succulents that thrive during the hot summer months of May to August and then become dormant in the winter are known as summer growers. Winter growers, on the other hand, are those who grow actively from November to February in the winter and then slow down in the summer.

Echeveria in “Stressed” colours at the right temperature

2) How do I know if my succulent is dormant?

Dormant succulents often do not have clear indicators, but some succulents such as aeonium lose their bottom leaves, the rosettes shrink, and the leaves start getting wrinkled. Dormant succulents have little to no growth.

Dormant Aeonium

Summer dormant succulents still need water during their dormant period to keep roots cool and viable. Some summer dormant succulents include Adromischus, aeonium, aloe, Anacampseros, crassula, cotyledon, Fenestraria, Graptopetalum, Graptoveria, Haworthia, kalanchoe, lithops, Pachyveria, Pachyphytum, Sansevieria, Sedum and Senecio.

Winter dormant succulents are like animals that go into hibernation. Leave them alone for the most part until the beginning of their growing period. Some winter dormant succulents include: Agave, Ceropegia, Echeveria, Euphorbia, Sempervivum and Tillandsia

3) How do I care for my dormant succulent?

There is no need to put your dormant succulent into a dark place while it is dormant. Succulents need plenty of light, even in their dormant state. If the average amount of light a succulent should receive is about 12 hours a day, it can be reduced to 10 or even 8 hours. If your dormant succulent is subject to sunburn, you might want to ensure it has some shade during the summer. Or if the plant is not cold hardy, you should protect it in the winter. But this is no different than for succulents that are actively growing.

An extremely cold hardy succulent, Sempervivum

Processing water takes a lot of energy, and a dormant succulent slow this process tremendously. When you see that your succulent is dormant, cut back the watering further, and water only when the lowest leaves show some signs of wrinkling, indicating the plant needs more moisture. It is far easier for your plant to draw on the water stored in its leaves when needed than to try to process waterlogged soil. Similarly, processing and utilizing fertilisers takes a lot of energy. Do not fertilize your succulents while they are dormant. Instead, wait until you see fresh, active growth and they exit their dormancy cycle, then you can start fertilizing them. It’s not recommended to repot your succulents during their dormancy and disturb their “deep sleep”.

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