This page is a collection of information that might help succulent and cactus growers understand which plants should be dormant and when.
The intention is to keep tweaking this page as more is learned, please help us refine the quality of the information, input is welcomed.
Dormancy is one of the most difficult concepts to learn for newcomers to growing succulents and cacti.
It is best to re-pot or transplant plants just before or during their growth period(s).
Bear in mind that Winter is usually colder than summer although on or near the Equator there is less seasonal temperature variation.
Succulents have developed in regions where there are long periods without rainfall and have learned to grow during wetter months.
Most succulents, especially cacti, are also affected by temperature with less growth in colder months.
In regions where it only rains in Winter months it follows that growth also depends on how low temperatures are. In colder regions growth will only occur in the Spring and Fall.
Note that the list includes mainly genera, there are cases where a species within a genus has the opposite dormancy to the majority in that genus.
Also note that when some plants are grown outside of their native habitat, especially in the opposite hemisphere, they can change their dormancy habits.
Plants from extremely hot and dry parts of the world like Conophytum and Lithops go dormant in the heat of Summer but cannot be allowed to be cold and wet in Winter.
WINTER DORMANT (Major growth is in summer)
This group is usually referred to as “summer growers.” They are dormant from November through February (June through September in the southern hemisphere). Many of these will also enter a rest period for a few weeks during the hottest part of the summer (called estivation) before putting on a final burst of growth in September and October (March and April in the southern hemisphere). Genera fitting better in this category include:
SUMMER DORMANT (Major growth is in winter)
Usually referred to as “winter growers” these genera are mostly dormant during the warmer months of May through August (November through February in the southern hemisphere). Their primary growth actually occurs during the autumn and spring while slowing considerably during winter. Genera fitting better in this category include:
Genera such as Agave, Aloe and Haemanthus (to name a few) include some species that are summer dormant and some that are winter dormant, and with genera such as Agave and Aloe, some species do not appear to go dormant at all.
Dioscorea can have periods of dormancy at any time.
Sun intensity increases in summer. When moving plants from shadier to sunnier places, be sure to acclimate them by covering them with a piece of shade cloth or window screen. The covering may be removed after a few weeks.