Cold Hardy Succulents for Northern Climates

I wonder why succulent gardens are only popular where the climate is extremely hot. Succulents are great for using in the outdoor gardens, balconies or placing out the large window sills; in addition to the fact that they make the perfect houseplants.


These drought tolerant plants like the hot weather and full sun. Even though many of them don’t like to stay outside in the freezing colds, there are also a lot of species of succulents that can survive through very low temperatures.

How to Care for Succulents in the Winter?


Most succulent plants require less watering in winter. I wait longer than I usually do while watering mines. But that does not mean every type of succulents has the same seasonal change of behavior.

You basically apply the same method when watering your succulent in winter. Once you give it a good soak, it will take the water from the roots to the leaves where it has the storage for long periods. The only change is this time period between irrigations. In my case, it takes about two months generally speaking.

Check my watering guide if you didn’t.


Sunlight is extremely important for the succulents, even they can stay alive with indirect sunlight if they are in dormancy during winter. Best is when they get 6 hours of daylight everyday. The dormant succulents also need – at least – 3 or 4 hours of light per day ideally.

For the outdoor succulents, poor lighting is generally not a problem because the sun is always brighter than indoors.

Photo via Flickr


No matter what is the temperature, succulent plants do not like to stay inside the soaking wet soil. They require a grainy and airy soil type with great drainage. Humid and compacted soil will cause the roots to rot and the plant dies quickly.

The soil is better to be protected from rain if the succulents stay outside during the winter months. Plants should be placed somewhere protected like a porch or an eave. If not, other protective shelters should be used.

Learn more about succulent soil from my succulent soil guide.


Succulents should be fertilized when they are actively growing. Since many of them will slip into a dormancy period, there is no point to use fertilizers in wintertime.

Usually fertilizing succulents once a year in Spring will be just enough for many of the species. But if yours like to be fed more than once, fertilize it at the end of the summer one last time.

So, I searched for the cold hardy succulents and collected the best 12 of them for you. I think they will look great in your gardens even if you live in the Northern climates.

1. Sempervivums (Hens and Chicks)

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Sempervivums are known as one of the most resistant types of succulents. They are hardy for the cold as much as they resist the hot. The genus contains about 40 species and many of them could grow outdoors in every climate.

Other common names for these plants are “Liveforever” and “Hens and Chicks”. Because they can stay alive in tough conditions; plus, they multiply so quickly just like hens and chicks.

Sempervivums form in a large rosette and develop countless offsets covering the ground of outdoor gardens. Flowering rosettes are monocarpic, which is meaning the mother plant dies after it gives flowers.

Some popular cold hardy species of Sempervivum succulents are Sempervivum heuffelii, Sempervivum calcareum, Sempervivum tectorum, Sempervivum arachnoideum, Sempervivum ‘Pacific Blue Ice’…

It is also possible to find some rare species if you know where to search for them. This post about where to buy succulents online might be helpful.

2. Sedum Dasyphyllum (Corsican Stonecrop)

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Sedum Dasyphyllum, Sedum Burnatii or commonly known as “Corsican Stonecrop”, this low growing shrub is native to rural areas of Mediterranian.

Sedums are a large genus containing up to 600 species, and the cultivators refer to them as “stonecrop” because only a stone could be easier to grow. These succulents are used ornamentall as garden plants or as roof cover for the green roofs.

In addition to mint green foliage, Sedum Dasyphyllum produces very pretty lilac purple. The leaves are small and fat with rounded at the tips. Newly growing leaves in the middle show a green color, and then they turn purple with time as the mature leaves. These Sedums bloom tiny pink-white flowers during June and July.

3. Sedum Spurium (Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop)

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Sedum Spurium is an evergreen perennial succulent plant forming in two rows of fleshy and rounded leaves in bright green. This mat-forming plant grows small shrubs which are drought tolerant.

Like a lot of Sedum succulents, Sedum spurium is a cold hardy species that can be maintained outdoors without any trouble.

These short growing plants are really striking around summer and fall. The burgundy color of the leaves is deepened in summer with the sun exposure and turns into a bright red in the fall.

Clusters of little red flowers in the shape of tiny stars show off when the summer season arrives.

4. Aloe ‘Blue Elf’

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Aloe is a flowering genus native to Africa, Madagascar and Arabia. Some Aloes are popular for their medical uses.

Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ is more tolerant to cold weather than other Aloe species, so it could be grown in various zones all year long.

The upright spikes of blue-green leaves and the orange flowers appearing in the winter time, make this large growing succulent a favorite of outdoor gardens.

5. Euphorbia Rigida (Upright Myrtle Spurge)

Euphorbia Rigida is a spurge family plant which is also called “Gopher spurge” or “Upright myrtle spurge”. The evergreen perennial succulent grows up to 50 centimeters wide and tall.

Euphorbia Rigida is popular for moderate temperatures of Europe and North America, but it is actually tolerant to cold winters for a while.

The blue-grey spiky leaves arrange around a tall stem and a big cluster of bright yellow flowers are produced at the top of every stem in late Spring.

Be careful that this succulent is toxic when ingested and irritating to the skin if touched, like all the species of Euphorbia genus.

6. Dasylirion Texanum (Texas Sotol)

Dasylirion Texanum or Texas Sotol is a grass-like succulent native to Texas deserts as you may tell from the name of it. However, it is also great for the colder Northern climates.

This species of Daslirion is smaller than the others, grıowing up to 100-150 centimeters tall. It produces flowering spikes much taller than its upright leaves that are opening up as a hemisphere.

7. Agaves

Agaves are generally known as large desert succulent plants that grow around Central America and Mexico. They are seen at outdoor gardens usually. Most common species are Agave americanaAgave attenuata, and Agave tequilana.

Some types of these desert plants are more resistant to cold temperatures. Queen Victoria Agave and Parry’s Agave are two common Agaves that can survive winter outdoors. Although they can resist below zero degrees, it is better to bring them indoors if the weather is extremely freezing.

Parry’s Agave
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Agave parryi, or Parry’s Agave is a cabbage-like type of this genus. Perennial and evergreen succulent is preffered for the gardeners who live where the winters are harsh. It is reported these plants survived -20 Celcius Degrees.

Agave victoriae-reginae is a perennial species known as Queen Victoria Agave or Royal Agave which has really interesting geometrical formed leaves. That is why it makes a great accent piece in the gardens.

8. Hesperaloe Parviflora (Red Yucca)

Red Yucca is originated from the deserts of Texas and Mexico. These succulents grow very long and narrow leaves from a central clump and around the leaves, you can see long, white threads.

Plant can grow 1.5 meters tall with the flower stalks it produces in mid-summer. The red tubular flowers attract many insects and flies. Some Red Yucca succulents can withstand to -29 degrees Celsius.

9. Yucca Rigida (Blue Yucca)

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Blue Yucca has very beautiful sword-like leaves in grey-blue, that are growing from a thick stem. These succulents are huge; some can grow up to 3 meters.They are hardy for both hot direct sun and cold weathers.

10. Lampranthus Deltoides (Pink Ice Plant)

Oscularia deltoides, or the deltoid-leaved dewplant is a South African succulent from the family Aizoaceae. Silver-blue foliage grows 30 centimeters tall and spreads horizontally. Flowers of these plants are extra intense with vivid pink color.

Although they are found in mountains of South-West Africa, they can require winter protection in extreme colds.

11. Echinopsis (Hedgehog Cactus)

Echinopsis is a common species of cacti, originally found in Southern America. These spiky balls are super popular because of their large and white flower looking like a pretty bell with a yellow stamen in the middle.

There are a lot of species of Echinopsis that can keep alive almost everywhere.

12. Mammillaria (Pincushion Cactus)

Mammillaria is the largest genera of cacti, usually called as Pincushion Cactus. These plants are so popular with 200 species and many more cultivars.

They form in globes with spikes changing size in every species, and many different flowers in various colors and shapes.

These cacti are spread because they are forgiving neglection. They can stay alive whether it is extremely hot or extremely cold.

Photo via Flickr

All of these succulents are perfect for growing outdoors, since they are tolerant for the colder temperatures that many other succulent plants would not withstand to. By choosing the right types, you are free from the worries when the winter arrives every year. So you can enjoy these pretty gardens even it is freezing outside.

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