Autumn is knocking on our doors, and the world is undergoing an amazing transformation. Trees are painting the land with stunning shades of yellow and summer breezes are turning into chilly autumn wind. Nights are frosty, mornings are foggy, and every living creature is preparing for the arrival of cold, dark days. It's time to bid farewell to the sunny and radiant summer days.
For our leafy friends, this is a crucial period. Fall marks the moment when plants gear up for the coming winter, and for us plant enthusiasts, it's time to tweak our care routines to accommodate the natural changes in our houseplants' growth patterns. If you're a succulent lover, this is especially important because, with a few exceptions of winter-growing succulents, these hardy plants often go into a restful dormancy during the cold months. So, as autumn arrives, it's the perfect time to ensure your succulents get the care they need to thrive through the changing seasons.
[Common Problems in Fall]Why Do Succulents Need A Special Fall Care Routine?
Fall acts as a bridge between the energetic growth of spring and summer and the quiet dormancy of winter. It is a period of transformation, during which both outdoor and indoor succulents adjust their growth patterns and physiological functions.
- Change in Light: With autumn's progression, daylight hours dwindle, and the intensity of natural light decreases. This shift affects how succulents photosynthesize and process energy. To ensure they receive enough light to support their reduced growth, you may need to relocate them to areas with more suitable light conditions or introduce artificial grow lights.
- Temperature Changes: As the fall season settles in, outdoor temperatures begin to drop. If you've been keeping your succulents outdoors during the warmer months, it's essential to bring them indoors to shield them from the cold. Most succulents are tropical or subtropical and can't tolerate frost or extreme cold.
- Pest Concerns: Fall can usher in increased pest activity, as critters seek refuge indoors from the cooling outdoor temperatures. As light decreases and temperatures fluctuate, succulents become more vulnerable to pest infestations.
- Transition to Dormancy: Fall represents a natural shift for many succulents. As they prepare for the upcoming winter, their growth rate slows down, and they enter a period of dormancy. During this phase, they conserve energy to endure the colder months.
- Yellowing Leaves and Wilting Flowers: Towards the end of the growing season, succulents naturally show signs of reduced vitality. Shorter days and cooler temperatures slow their metabolic processes, causing leaves to turn yellow and flower stems to wither. This process is a strategy to recycle resources back into the plant before the changing seasons take hold.
A carefully adjusted fall care routine is essential for succulents as they head into winter. Healthy, well-nourished succulents are better equipped to face the challenges of colder temperatures and reduced light levels in the winter months. Adapting their care during this period helps them save energy and resources, promoting their overall health and resilience through the dark, chilly winter.
Care Tips For Succulents In The Fall
Adjust Light Exposure
With the transition into fall, the changing daylight patterns become a crucial consideration for your succulents. The days grow shorter and the intensity and duration of natural light decrease, significantly impacting the way your succulents photosynthesize and process energy. Therefore, it is essential to manage your plants’ light exposure thoughtfully.
- Relocate to a Brighter Spot: Consider shifting your succulents to a brighter location indoors. Finding a sunny spot that offers abundant light to provide your succulents with the essential illumination they need to thrive in the autumn and upcoming winter months.
- Clean Your Windows: A simple yet highly effective method to enhance the available light for your succulents is by ensuring your windows are free from dust and debris and thus allow more sunlight to reach your succulents.
- Regularly Rotate Your Succulents: To ensure each side of your succulents receives its fair share of light, you should rotate your plants regularly. This measure helps prevent lopsided, leggy growth and ensures that every part of the plant has enough light for healthy development.
- Gradual Acclimation: Gradually decrease the duration of direct sunlight or bright conditions for your succulents each day. This gradual adjustment eases them into the reduced light levels of the season, helping them adapt to the dark, cold winter.
- Use Grow Lights: In cases where natural light is notably reduced during the fall, especially for indoor succulents, it is recommended to invest in some full spectrum grow lights. Place the lamps at the appropriate distance and duration to mimic natural daylight hours.
- For Outdoor Succulents: Consider moving your outdoor plants to a sunnier spot, so they can have enough sunlight during the day. If you find that the natural sunlight is insufficient for their needs, you might want to bring them indoors and boost their light intake with a grow light.
Finding a sunny spot that offers abundant light to provide your succulents with the essential illumination.
Adjust Watering Schedule
With days becoming noticeably shorter and temperatures gradually cooling down, succulents, like many plants, respond by entering a phase of slower growth and reduced metabolic activity. This shift is a fundamental part of their adaptation to changing seasons. It's during this period of adjustment that your succulents have different requirements than they did during their active growing phase in spring and summer.
One of the most crucial shifts in care relates to watering. With the decrease in daylight and the gentle cooling of the environment, succulents generally need less water. This is because their reduced metabolic activity and slowed growth mean they're not as thirsty as they were during their growing season. This transition in their water needs is vital to grasp and act upon because overwatering can become a significant challenge.
Overwatering, a common issue in succulent care, can lead to problems such as root rot. When soil stays consistently moist and doesn't have a chance to dry out, the roots of your beloved succulents can suffer, making them more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections. To ensure the health and longevity of your succulents, it's imperative to be mindful of this seasonal transition.
The approach to watering in the fall should be characterized by a gradual reduction in the amount of water you provide. Allow the topsoil in their pots to become completely dry to the touch before even considering giving your succulents a sip. This ensures that you're not introducing excess moisture into the root zone, which could harm your plants. The goal is to mimic the conditions of their natural habitat, where periods of drought are followed by periods of thorough hydration.
One of the key adjustments to make relates to fertilization. As succulents respond to the fall season's reduced growth rate, it's important to halt all fertilization of your plants during this period. Receiving excess nutrients during a time when succulents aren't in their active growth phase can be harmful to your plants.
Fertilizing your succulents in autumn may result in an accumulation of surplus nutrients in the soil. While these extra nutrients might seem beneficial, they can disrupt the internal balance of your plants, affecting the health and appearance of your succulents.
- One potential outcome of over-fertilization is root burn.
- Moreover, fertilizing during the slow-growing period may also lead to leggy and weak growth.
- Additionally, leaf discoloration is another sign that the balance has been disrupted, with leaves potentially changing color or showing signs of stress.
- Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that an excess nutrient load can make your succulents more vulnerable to pests and diseases.
Fertilizing during the slow-growing period may also lead to leggy and weak growth.
It becomes evident that the fall season is a time for your succulents to conserve energy and resources rather than put them to work on excessive growth. This strategic pause in fertilization aligns with their natural cycle and helps maintain their internal equilibrium.
Prune, Repot and Propagate
Pruning: A well-pruned succulent is better equipped to withstand the harsher conditions of winter. By reducing the burden of dead or yellow leaves and spent flowers, your succulents can redirect their resources toward root development and other key functions. This prepares them to survive lower light levels and cooler temperatures in the winter.
Repotting for Fresh Soil and Space: Fall is an excellent time to consider repotting your succulents. As they've been actively growing over the summer, they might have outgrown their current pots or used up the available nutrients in the soil. Repotting allows you to provide fresh, well-draining soil and potentially a slightly larger container for your succulents. Make sure to choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent waterlogged soil.
Propagation: Fall often provides ideal conditions for propagation. The weather is typically milder than in the scorching heat of summer or the harsh cold of winter. This moderate climate can be beneficial for the development of new plants from cuttings or offsets. Fall is an extension of the growing season for many succulents. While they may slow down in their growth, they're still actively engaged in growth processes. This means that the new cuttings or offsets have some time to develop and strengthen before winter's dormancy sets in.
The fall season heralds a time when certain pests become more active, making it essential to be watchful for any signs of infestation. Detecting and addressing pests early can prevent damage to your succulents. Here's how to keep an eye out for these intruders:
- Discolored Leaves: Inspect your succulents for any leaves that show unexplained discoloration or unusual markings. Pests often leave behind distinctive traces, such as tiny holes, stippling, or discolorations, which are telltale signs of their presence.
- Tiny Webs: Some pests, like spider mites, create fine webs on your succulents. These webs are visible if you look closely. If you notice these silken structures, it's a clear indication that you have a pest issue.
- Unusual Markings: Keep an eye out for any unusual markings or patterns on the leaves or stems of your succulents. These markings can be a sign of pests at work.
- Taking Prompt Action: If you find signs of infestation, it's crucial to act swiftly to control the pests. Start by isolating the affected succulents to prevent the infestation from spreading to others. Then, depending on the type of pest, you can choose the appropriate treatment method, which may include manual removal, insecticidal soap, neem oil, or other remedies. By maintaining a vigilant watch for pests in the fall, you can protect your succulents from potential harm and keep them in optimal health as they transition through the changing seasons.
The fall season can bring unpredictable weather changes, affecting even indoor houseplants. Indoor conditions may fluctuate due to heating, cooling systems, drafts, and open windows, so it is important to monitor temperatures and adjust it for your succulents.
- As the temperatures drop in the fall, it's advisable to transition outdoor succulents indoors. Before doing so, inspect your plants for signs of pests and diseases.
- Monitoring indoor temperature is essential, especially if you use heating systems. Maintaining a consistent and comfortable temperature range, typically between 65°F to 75°F, is ideal for most sucuclents.
- Avoid sudden temperature fluctuations, as they can stress plants. Keep your houseplants away from drafty areas, heating vents, or air conditioning units that might cause rapid temperature changes.
- Proper air circulation is vital to prevent stagnant air and control humidity levels. Ensure there's adequate ventilation in the room where your succulents are located.
Grouping plants with similar temperature and humidity requirements can create microenvironments that cater to their specific needs.