Overwintering Succulents — Need Grow Lights?

Overwintering Succulents — Need Grow Lights?

You’ve learned a lot and — finally — all your succulents are thriving.

Don’t let winter’s chill kill off your succulents!

It happens literally overnight. A fat and happy echeveria you’ve loved for months suddenly becomes a soggy, wet mess. It’s dead and nothing of it can be saved. Ugh!

As fall advances, succulent lovers the world over are carrying their plants indoors to protect them from the cold. Exposing a succulent to temperatures too cold for it is the fastest and most certain way to kill these tough little plants. Even an over-watered succulent can be saved if you act quickly. But death by freezing leaves a succulent good for nothing but compost. Overwintering succulents indoors can be crucial for their survival. It’s that simple. Once you have saved its life — do you need a grow light for it? If so, what kind, and what kind is best for your home? These questions are more complicated. Let’s figure them out, together!

{Please note, some links in this post may be affiliate links to sites that pay me a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase. This commission is at absolutely no cost to you. I only recommend products and companies that I have worked with and truly love! ~Kat}

Want to skip straight to the grow lights? Shop my recommended succulent grow lights here!

Shop Kat's Recommended Grow Lights

Overwintering Succulents — Which Ones?

bringing tender succulents indoors for the winter

While winter hardy succulents like sempervivum, opuntia, jovibarba and some sedum will thrive outdoors despite sleet and snow, most are tender to frost. So you bundle them indoors over the winter months. If your garden experiences freezing temperatures — even occasionally — you’ll want to bring in the following succulents: Adromischus, Aeonium, Agave (most), Aloe, Anacampseros, Crassula, Echeveria, Euphorbia, Faucaria, Fenestraria, Graptopetalum, Graptosedum, Graptoveria, Haworthia, Kalanchoe, Lampranthus, Lithops, Pachyphytum, Pachypodium, Pachyveria, Peperomia, Portulacaria, Sansevieria, tender Sedum, Senecio and Stapelia. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. If you have a tender cactus or succulent, protect it from freezing temps.


When you bring outdoor-acclimated succulents into your home, their needs will change because their environment has changed. They won’t go through water as fast indoors as out, so you’ll cut back on the water. But what about light? Will your overwintered succulents need a grow light?

When Overwintering Succulents, Do You Need a Grow Light?

succulents stretching in need of more light

The short answer is no. Strictly in terms of your overwintered succulent’s survival, a grow light almost certainly is not required. While some few succulent varieties can thrive in indoor lighting, most will etiolate — stretch for more light. This is unattractive and hard on the plant. But unless the etiolation is very extreme, over many months, it will not kill your plant. Come spring, you’ll move it outdoors again, back into abundant sunlight. The stretched stems and leaves cannot un-stretch. At that point, you can cut off the stretched growth and re-root it. New growth will be compact.


However, if you don’t want to lose this time in your succulent’s growth and development or you want to keep it as healthy as possible all winter long, a succulent grow light is important. Even a sunny window gets less light in the winter (and may be quite cold). A succulent grow light supplements the light for the plant, facilitating photosynthesis. This keeps the plant’s growth healthy and compact.

Prevent Succulents from Stretching with Grow Lights

sedeveria letizia shown stretching for light and grown in good light

Succulents need light to live. When they are grown in a location without sufficient light, they stretch, reaching for more light. When succulents stretch for light, it is called etiolation. Learn all about succulent etiolation, its early signs and how to fix it here. To help keep overwintered succulents healthy and compact, supplement the natural and artificial light in your home with a succulent grow light.

Choosing Grow Lights for Succulents

For my deep dive into succulent grow lights and how to use them, read here. For this article, let’s bottom line it.

Fluorescent or LED?

Your main choices for succulent grow lights are between fluorescent and LED light fixtures. Each has pros and cons.

  • Both Fluorescent and LED fixtures do a good job for succulents
  • Fluorescent lights use more energy, and are more expensive to run, over time than LEDs
  • Fluorescent bulbs also get quite warm
  • The white light of fluorescent lights is easy on your eyes and in your home

As lighting technology advances, fluorescent lights are more energy-efficient and run less hot than they used to. But LEDs are still far and away more energy efficient and inexpensive to run.

Red/Blue LED Lights vs White LED Lights
white led grow lights are best for succulents and people
  • LED grow lights are very energy efficient and inexpensive to run
  • Red/Blue LED grow lights provide the specific spectrum of light your succulents need to thrive
  • Red/Blue LED light is quite hard on the eyes
  • White LED grow lights provide red and blue light for succulents and the rest of the spectrum for you.
  • Red/Blue LED grow light fixtures are much less expensive than the white LED lights.

White LED grow lights are the best of both worlds. They are highly efficient and inexpensive to run. White LED light includes the spectrum your succulents need and it is easy on your eyes. Perfect for enjoying your succulents while they are indoors. These are my favorite choice, but the price difference is real. Fortunately, the price is coming down.

Shop my recommendations for succulent grow lights here. Each of these grow lights does an excellent job for succulents!

Shop Kat's Recommended Grow Lights

Once you’ve chosen your grow lights, plan to have them on for 14 hours/day. I like to use a timer for mine.

succulent showing signs it needs more light

Keeping your overwintered succulents from freezing is job one this winter. Learn how to winterize succulents with this free e-course from DroughtSmartPlants.com. If you’re wondering whether you need a grow light, I hope this review of the question has been helpful! If you have any questions, please leave me a comment. I’ll be happy to help!

Happy (indoor) Gardening!

P.S. For more succulent care information, please subscribe to The Succulent Eclectic! I’ll send you my FREE e-course 7 Steps to Succulent Success!

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Do overwintered succulents need grow lights?

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Patty

    Hi Kat,

    I put most my favorite pots of cactus and succulents in my garage for the winter. It is pretty cold in there but I do have hanging individual LED grow lights on them. Do you think that will be okay? I guess I could put them and all my overwintering plants in the house but I’d rather have them in the garage.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Patty,
      So long as they won’t be exposed to freezing temps and you get them enough light – they should do great!
      Keep an eye on them. Before they start stretching, they will tilt their leaves down to maximize the amount of light on their leaves. If you see this happening, try adding another light.
      ~Kat

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