Succulent can freeze in the snow in winter

Will Succulents Die if They Freeze?(Protection+Recovery Tips)

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. 

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?

Will cold weather kill succulents? If the temperature in your place falls below 0°C ( 32°F) and you have got non-cold hardy succulents growing outside then chances are high that the cold will do irreversible damage to your succulents.

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.

However, this also depends hugely on the extent of frost damage the plant has suffered.
Here on it is important to make sure that the succulent is kept in a place that is warm, well ventilated, place and gets a sufficient amount of indirect sun, in short, make sure it is never again exposed to cold temperatures at least for the next few weeks.

In the Case of Lighter to Moderate Frost Bite Damage

If the succulent has suffered frost damage only on the leaf edges and its growing season is in the spring & summer, then there is no need to worry as it will shed its old leaves pretty soon.
  • 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

In case you notice the frostbite has affected not only the leaves but the stem and root system as well, saving the succulent can be hard. The best you can do is to trim the affected areas carefully and hope that they will recover (source).
  • 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.
Succulents are probably one of the toughest varieties of plants out there which can put up with any hardship. You have done the best you can do, here on you can only hope for the best. If you are lucky the succulent will again go back to its healthier self within few weeks if you put it under the right care.

Watering Strategy after Frost Damage

Also, make sure not to water the succulent at least for 2 to 3 weeks depending upon its condition. Succulents affected by frostbite are extremely susceptible to root rot and fungal infections.
During the winter most succulents go into a dormant mode so their water requirement by default will be very low.

Important Note:

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?

Sedums and Sempervivums are the go-to varieties of succulent you should opt for in case your place gets really cold in the winter. Both of these varieties are extremely hardy and can more or less grow under any condition and requires very little care to survive.
The best thing is both these varieties contain some of the striking-looking plants one can grow in their garden!
There are multiple cactus types( like Opuntia) that do really well below the freezing point. Other varieties of Succulents including certain types of Agaves and Yuccas also do remarkably well under low temperatures.

“How do I protect my succulents from frost?”

The best way you can make sure that your succulents are in good health is by providing them with conditions that are identical to their natural habitats. The majority of the succulents are from drought-prone areas where it gets quite cold at the night or in the winters.
  • 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.
So here are some tips you can follow to keep your lovely succulents healthy in winter and protected from cold:

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

“Should I cover my succulents in winter?” Covering your plants is one of the best ways to protect them from frosting. You can cover the succulents in the evening & then uncover them the next morning. If it remains chilly for few days at a stretch, then keep the covers on. 
However, make sure you never use plastic sheets for covering the plants. The succulents won’t be able to breathe under wrapped conditions if you use plastic sheets. You can use covers of burlap for this.
This is an effective solution in case you cannot bring the succulents indoors.
  • 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.
It’s also best if you can create some form of a temporary cage-like structure that will protect your succulents from the extreme cold.


Succulents are mainly xerophytes where sharp fluctuations of temperatures are seen during the day and the night. However, very rarely do temperatures drop below the freezing point. Hence the majority of the succulents growing in these drought-prone areas are not cold hardy.
However, there are quite a few varieties of succulents that are known for withstanding extreme cold temperatures. So if you plant to grow succulents outdoors all year round and it gets really cold in your place, think about getting one of those succulents for your garden.
If you liked this post then you can also read: