When I started growing succulents outdoors I always wondered whether it is a good call to leave the succulents outside in the winter cold or not. I have done extensive research on this & I share everything I have learned in this post! So…
Will succulents survive a freeze? Cold Hardy succulents can definitely survive freezing temperatures but most other succulents will find it hard to survive around temperatures of 0°C. So you should either bring those succulents indoors or use covering sheets to protect your succulents against frost, especially at night.
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What Happens if a Succulent Freezes?
Succulents mostly are found in drought-prone areas where rainfall is scarce. So they are naturally adapted to store large amounts of water in their body parts.
- So the problem with this is, when the temperature around them gets below the freezing point, the water in the leaves, stem, and other parts freeze as well. As a result, the surface area increases, and the cell walls of the succulent cells burst open.
The succulent will take damage both in the interior and in the exterior parts if it gets subjected to frost for several hours. This gives the succulent its characteristic mushy-like leaf appearance right after a cold night.
If the effect was low to moderate then only the borders and edges of the leaves will be damaged. This is called frost burn. The Frost burn is often followed by the discoloration of the leaves.
Also, most plants absorb water best around 20°C (68°F). If the soil temperature decreases the pumping mechanism of the roots which is important for absorbing the water and minerals from the soil gets hampered.
- Hence if the succulent is subjected to prolonged exposure to extremely low temperatures for weeks without any protection, you definitely run the chance of damaging the plant permanently.
What Temperature is too cold for succulents?
Most succulents prefer a night time temperature of 50°F-64°F (10°C-18°C) for optimum growth and well being. However, they can tolerate cold temperatures as low as 35°F-41°F (2°C-5°C).
- But their overall growth will be surely impacted under these conditions.
Anything below this range can impact the succulent health directly as the water stored inside the plant parts can freeze and injure the cells.
There are some cold-hardy succulents that are naturally equipped to handle cold temperatures and can even sustain severe freezing. So for these succulents, the cold tolerating temperature zone can be anywhere between -30°C to -0°C.
Will Succulents Die if they Freeze?
Whether the succulent will die or not depends entirely on:
- The Succulent type
- The Succulent age
- The Cold Weather of your place
The best thing is succulents are extremely adaptive plants that are known to put up with harsh conditions & still finding a way to grow back even if it looks like that it is done for.
In many instances, it has been found that even non-cold hardy succulents after suffering a considerate amount of damages to the leaves, get restored back to their earlier health when the growing season arrives.
However, it is always better to be safe than sorry so you should do everything can beforehand to protect your loving plants from any kind of distress.
How Can a Succulent Recover from a Frost?
The fact that Succulents and cactuses store water in their thick fleshy pads and other plant parts makes them more vulnerable to frost.
So Can succulents & cactuses recover from a frost? The hardiness and high adaptive features of the succulents make them highly suitable to recover from the frosting damages and enable them to thrive well in the next few months.
In the Case of Lighter to Moderate Frost Bite Damage
- If the succulent has taken so much damage that the majority of the leaves are worn out, pale or brown, then consider trimming them with scissors.
However, personally, I won’t go ahead with the trimming option unless I have to and would rather observe the succulent for a week or so to see how it is coping up. Just providing it with a proper warmer habitat can do wonders.
In the case of Major Frostbit damage
- If you feel the damage has also spread into the roots, you will need to carefully unplug the plant and look for the signs. If the roots look worn out and dead, you need to cut off the affected regions immediately and then plant them back in a new soil mix.
Watering Strategy after Frost Damage
Make sure you do not subject the succulent to dramatic changes in temperature or sunlight.
- Going through a heat or temperature shock is the worst thing that can happen to the plant right now.
- Keep the plant at room temperature and place it beside the window so that it gets 4 to 6 hours of indirect sun.
Which Succulents are more likely to survive a freeze?
“How do I protect my succulents from frost?”
- But in most cases, the temperature doesn’t fall below the 0°C-5°C mark. So this temperature range is the upper limit of low temperatures that most succulents can handle. Anything below this is a matter of chance which can affect their health.
Bring The Succulents Inside Right After the fall
This one is a no-brainer especially if your place gets really cold in the winter. This is something which is mandatory for non-cold hardy succulents and if possible you should also bring the cold hardy ones indoors.
Cold-hardy succulents can definitely survive the frost however it never hurts to be extra cautious. You can again move them outdoors in late February or in early March when the temperature becomes warmer.
Choose The Right Kind of Succulents to Grow
As Succulentsandsunshine suggests, you should first start knowing which zone you belong to, and then as per that you need to select the right kind of succulents which is suited to be grown outdoors in that zone all year round.
Then you won’t have the problem of bringing them indoors to save them from frosting.
Shield them from the frost
- Put some bricks on the covers or tie the covers down around the plants to make sure it is tightly bound.
- Avoid wrapping ropes around the succulent to bind it tightly with the sheet as that can harm the stem.