The Best Temperature Ranges For Growing Succulents

Succulents have gained immense popularity among plant lovers for their unique and captivating appearance. With their fleshy leaves and adaptive mechanisms for water storage, succulents are well-suited to a variety of environments. However, to ensure the health and longevity of these remarkable plants, it’s crucial to understand the best temperature conditions that succulents require. In this guide, we will explore the ideal temperature range for different types of succulents, how temperature affects their growth, and how to protect them during extreme conditions.

Succulents growing in a warm temperature indoors

Understanding the Basics

Before delving into specific temperature requirements, let’s start by understanding the fundamentals of succulents and their relationship with temperature.

What Are Succulent Plants?

Succulents are a diverse group of plants known for their ability to store water in their fleshy leaves, stems, or roots. This water storage adaptation allows them to thrive in arid and semi-arid regions where water is scarce. Succulents belong to various plant families and encompass a wide range of species, each with its own unique characteristics and temperature preferences.

Temperature Tolerance

Succulents exhibit varying degrees of temperature tolerance, which can be broadly categorized into three groups: cold-hardy succulents, tender succulents, and temperature-tolerant succulents.

  1. Cold-Hardy Succulents: These succulents are well-suited to cooler temperatures and can withstand freezing temperatures, sometimes even surviving outdoor conditions year-round.
  2. Tender Succulents: Tender succulents are more sensitive to cold and require protection during winter months when temperatures drop significantly.
  3. Temperature-Tolerant Succulents: These succulents can adapt to a wide range of temperatures and are suitable for both hot and cold climates.

Now that we have a basic understanding of succulents and their temperature tolerance, let’s explore the specific temperature requirements for different types of succulents.

Temperature Requirements for Succulents

Cold Hardy Succulents

The cold hardy type of succulents are your best choice if you live in a region with cold winters or want to cultivate succulents outdoors year-round. These plants can endure freezing temperatures and are often native to cold climates. Some popular cold-hardy succulents include:

  • Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks): These rosette-forming succulents are incredibly cold-resistant and can thrive in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.
  • Sedum (Stonecrop): Sedums are versatile cold-hardy succulents that can tolerate temperatures as low as -20°F (-29°C).
  • Opuntia (Prickly Pear Cactus): Native to North America, prickly pear cacti are cold-hardy and can withstand temperatures below freezing.

Optimal Temperature Range: Cold-hardy succulents typically thrive in a temperature range of 40°F to 85°F (4°C to 29°C). However, they can endure lower temperatures if provided with proper protection.

Tender Succulents

Tender succulents, on the other hand, are more sensitive to cold weather and require special care during the winter months. These succulents are often native to warmer climates and cannot withstand freezing temperatures. Some examples of tender succulents include:

  • Echeveria: These beautiful rosette succulents are sensitive to cold and should be protected from frost.
  • Aeonium: Aeoniums are tender succulents that may suffer damage in temperatures below freezing.
  • Kalanchoe: Many kalanchoe species are sensitive to cold and should be kept indoors during the winter in colder climates.

Optimal Temperature Range: Tender succulents thrive in a temperature range of 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C). During the colder months, they should be kept in a warmer environment.

Temperature-Tolerant Succulents

Temperature-tolerant succulents are versatile and can adapt to a wide range of temperatures, making them suitable for a variety of climates. Some examples of temperature-tolerant succulents include:

  • Euphorbia: Euphorbias come in various forms and are known for their adaptability to different temperature conditions.
  • Agave: These succulents can tolerate both hot and cold temperatures, making them a great choice for many regions.
  • Sedeveria: A hybrid of sedum and echeveria, sedeveria plants are generally temperature-tolerant.

Optimal Temperature Range: Temperature-tolerant succulents can thrive in a wide range of temperatures, typically between 50°F and 85°F (10°C to 29°C). They can adapt to seasonal temperature variations.

Factors That Influence Temperature Tolerance

Several factors can influence the temperature tolerance of succulents, including their natural habitats, adaptive mechanisms, and individual species traits.

Natural Habitats

Succulents have evolved in diverse natural habitats worldwide, from arid deserts to high-altitude mountain regions. Understanding a succulent’s native habitat can provide valuable insights into its temperature preferences. For example, succulents native to desert regions may be more heat-tolerant, while those from mountainous areas may tolerate cooler temperatures.

Adaptive Mechanisms

Succulents have developed various adaptive mechanisms to survive extreme temperatures. These mechanisms include:

  • Thick, Fleshy Leaves: The thick leaves of succulents store water, which helps them endure periods of drought and extreme heat.
  • Shade-Acclimation: Some succulents can acclimate to high temperatures by growing in partial shade or developing protective outer leaves.
  • Dormancy: Certain succulents go dormant during extreme temperature conditions, conserving energy until conditions improve.

Understanding these mechanisms can guide your care practices during temperature fluctuations.

Individual Species Traits

Different species within the same succulent family can have varying temperature preferences. Therefore, it’s essential to research the specific requirements of each succulent species you own to ensure they thrive in your climate.

Temperature Protection Tips

To maintain your succulents’ health and beauty, it’s essential to protect them from extreme temperatures. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

Cold Weather Protection

  1. Choose the Right Location: Plant your succulents in a sheltered area with some protection from cold winds and frost. South-facing windows and sunny spots can provide warmth during the day.
  2. Use Frost Cloth: Covering your succulents with frost cloth or blankets during cold nights can provide an extra layer of insulation.
  3. Move Indoors: If you have tender succulents, consider bringing them indoors during the winter months to protect them from freezing temperatures.

Hot Weather Protection

  1. Provide Shade: In extremely hot climates, succulents may benefit from partial shade or shade cloth to prevent sunburn.
  2. Water Wisely: During hot weather, water your succulents early in the morning to prevent excessive evaporation and sunburn on wet leaves.
  3. Monitor Soil Temperature: Be mindful of soil temperature, as extremely hot soil can stress succulents. Use a soil thermometer to ensure the temperature is within an acceptable range.

The Role of Light Levels

In addition to temperature, light levels play a crucial role in the overall health of your succulents. Adequate sunlight is essential for photosynthesis and the development of vibrant colors and compact growth in succulents.

Natural Light

Most succulents thrive when placed in bright, indirect natural light. Placing them near a south-facing window or in a location with morning sun and indirect light during the rest of the day is ideal. However, be cautious of intense, direct sunlight, which can lead to sunburn and damage the leaves of your succulents.

Artificial Light

In situations where natural light is limited, such as during the winter months or for indoor succulents, grow lights can be an excellent solution. LED grow lights designed for succulents can provide the right spectrum of light for healthy growth.

Watering Considerations

Proper watering is another crucial factor in succulent care, and it is closely linked to temperature. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Adjusting Watering Frequency

Hot Climates: In hot climates or during the warmer months, succulents may require more frequent watering due to increased evaporation. Monitor the moisture level in the soil and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Cold Climates: Conversely, in cold climates or during the winter months, succulents should be watered less frequently to prevent overwatering, which can lead to root rot.

Ensure Good Drainage

Regardless of the temperature, it’s essential to plant your succulents in pots with a drainage hole. Well-draining soil is equally important to prevent waterlogged roots, which can be detrimental to succulents in any climate.

Be Cautious with Fertilization

During periods of extreme temperatures, it’s best to reduce or eliminate fertilizer application. Over-fertilizing succulents during stressful conditions can lead to nutrient imbalances and harm your plants.

Adapting to Seasonal Changes

Succulents are adaptable plants, and their care requirements can change with the seasons. Understanding these seasonal shifts is key to ensuring the health of your succulent collection.

Winter Months

During the winter months, when temperatures drop and daylight hours decrease, many succulents enter a period of dormancy. During this time, their growth slows, and they require less water. Here are some winter care tips:

  • Reduce Watering: Water sparingly during winter, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
  • Protect from Frost: If you live in a cold climate, provide extra protection against frost for sensitive succulents.
  • Monitor Light Levels: Ensure your succulents receive adequate light, either from natural sources or artificial grow lights.

Warmer Months

As temperatures rise in the spring and summer, succulents become more active and require more frequent watering. Here’s how to care for them during the warmer months:

  • Increase Watering: Succulents may need more frequent watering as temperatures rise, but still, ensure that the soil has good drainage.
  • Watch for Signs of Stress: Pay attention to your succulents for signs of heat stress, such as wilting or browning leaves. Provide shade or relocate them if needed.
  • Promote New Growth: Warmer months are an excellent time for succulents to produce new growth. Be patient and watch your plants flourish.

Choosing the Right Succulent for Your Climate

If you’re new to succulent gardening or planning to expand your collection, it’s crucial to select succulent species that are well-suited to your local climate. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zone map is a valuable resource for determining which succulents are likely to thrive in your area.

Here’s how to use the USDA hardiness zone map:

  1. Identify Your Zone: Find out which USDA hardiness zone you live in. The map divides the United States into zones based on the average minimum winter temperature in each region.
  2. Match Succulents to Your Zone: Research succulent species that are known to thrive in your specific zone. Many reputable nurseries and online retailers provide this information when selling succulents.
  3. Consider Microclimates: Keep in mind that microclimates, such as those around your home or garden, can differ from the broader zone. Be attentive to local conditions that may affect your succulents’ growth.

Indoor Succulents

If you live in an area with extreme temperatures or simply prefer to keep your succulents indoors, it’s essential to create the right conditions for their growth. Here are some tips for indoor succulent care:

  • Choose the Right Pot: Use pots with drainage holes to prevent overwatering. Well-draining succulent soil is essential.
  • Provide Adequate Light: Place your succulents in a location where they can receive bright, indirect light or use artificial grow lights.
  • Monitor Humidity: Indoor environments can be drier than outdoor ones. In low-humidity settings, consider using a humidity tray or a room humidifier to maintain an optimal environment.
  • Rotate Your Succulents: To ensure even growth, rotate your indoor succulents regularly so that all sides receive adequate light.

Maintaining Your Succulents

To keep your succulents thriving, it’s crucial to provide them with the right temperature, light, and watering conditions. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of stress, disease, or pests, and take prompt action to address any issues. With proper care and attention, your succulent collection can flourish and delight you for years to come.


Succulents are captivating and resilient plants that can thrive in a wide range of temperature conditions, provided they receive the right care. Understanding the specific temperature requirements of your succulents, along with factors like light and watering, is key to their success. Whether you’re a seasoned succulent enthusiast or just starting your collection, tailoring your care practices to your succulents’ needs will lead to healthy, vibrant, and beautiful plants that you can enjoy year-round. So, go ahead and create the perfect environment for your succulents, and watch them thrive in your care, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

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