Succulents include a huge variety of types from cactus to hen & chicks to sedum in tons of different colors & shapes. What they all have in common is that they have thick, fleshy leaves that hold moisture to keep the plant growing during times of extreme drought, like in the desert.
Succulents are one of the easiest plants for any gardener (beginning or advanced), as long as they don’t get too much water. During the winter this is especially critical, as plants aren’t getting enough sunlight & heat to actively grow, so they won’t be needing much water then. Like any plant, it depends on the size of plant & temperature, but it may not need watering more than once a week or even once a month. Plants only need fertilizer when they are actively growing, which usually means don’t worry during the winter.
If at all possible, succulents will do best with as much sun as possible during the winter, such as a south window. Many will tolerate just a few hours of sun a day, but they may get stretchy & gangly looking. If that happens, plants can always be cut back in the spring when there is more sun to create new growth.
Temperatures can be anywhere from 34-80’F, as most succulents will survive down to frost, but of course they won’t be growing much. Ideally would be to keep them around the same temp as what you like. If you want to leave them in a very cool location, then it’s best to make sure that they stay on the dry side & get as much sun as possible (so the basement is probably not the best location).
If a leaf drops off, don’t worry, that’s the plants natural defense mechanism to create a new plant. As long as the leaf drops on moist soil & gets sun, the leaf with develop roots & new leafs on it’s own, since the leaf contains enough moisture to survive until roots can start drawing water out of the soil (see above pic).
Succulents may flower once a year, typically during the winter, but the flowers are usually not that attractive & definitely not what they are grown for. Succulents can be grown on their own in small or large pots (2-14″) or baskets (yes, there are even trailing succulents), but often they are most interesting mixed together, like the picture at top.
Whether for yourself or a gift for someone else, succulents are a great plant any time of year. They also make a great “pet” for a child to learn about taking care of plants!