Succulents have a reputation for being homebodies. Charming on bookshelves and perfect on window ledges, they’re frequently thought of as indoor plants. But succulents can also make great additions to outdoor gardens. “You can grow succulents outside in almost all climates,” says Marianne Hugo, director at Coastkeeper Garden, a nonprofit conservation garden in Orange County, California. “If you live in colder parts of the country, it just takes a little more planning and rotating.”
The vast majority of succulents won’t survive a frost. With the exception of a few extra-hardy varieties-such as hens and chicks, which go dormant in freezing temperatures-outdoor succulents will die once cold weather moves in. Unless you live in the warmest parts of the country, you’ll want to plant your outdoor succulents in pots that can be moved inside once the mercury drops. Potting succulents also allows you to control how much water your plants receive. Although they’re celebrated for being low-maintenance, succulents have delicate roots that can rot when overly saturated.
“There’s only one way to truly kill a succulent, and that’s too much water,” says Hugo. “If you live in an area where it rains frequently, such as Portland, or if it’s an unusually wet season, planters allow you to bring your succulents inside to keep dry.” Even in sunny Southern California, where conditions are ideal for succulents, Hugo finds planters helpful. “When we’re having a terrible heat wave, I move mine into the shade,” she says. “Even succulents can get too much sun.”