Succulents and cacti prefer to reside in the “sweet spot” of temperature, just as is the case with sunlight exposure. These hardy plants can suffer irreparable harm from either extreme of the temperature range, so it’s important to monitor their health and adjust the environment as necessary.
Succulents and cacti thrive most effectively in temperatures between 40 and 80 °F. Outside of this range, little temperature swings are tolerated, but swings of five or more can result in permanent harm. Even more intriguing is the fact that temperatures that are on the edge of the bearable range (about 40°F or 80°F) can operate as “stressors,” positively affecting the plant and encouraging the expression of more vivid hues.
Succulents and cacti should ideally be kept above freezing during the winter to prevent frost damage. While more tropical types like euphorbia and lithops demand minimum temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, other cultivars are actually frost hardy and prefer cooler overnight temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees. Searching for “ideal temperature for insert plant name here” on Google is currently the quickest approach to find out what temps are optimal for your plants. Each plant product page will eventually feature our own documentation.
Extreme Cold and Extreme Hot
Succulents and cactus can, you guessed it, freeze when exposed to freezing or below-zero weather! The water that has frozen inside the plant’s cells expands as it thaws, killing the cells by rupturing them. When the plant finally thaws out, the damaged regions will start to decay or scar permanently—a symptom that could take a few days to manifest. To stop the rot from spreading, the best course of action in this circumstance is to remove the afflicted region with a clean razor blade.
It is preferable to relocate your collection under a patio cover or inside of your home while the freezing conditions last in order to prevent damage from frost and freezing temperatures temporarily. A “frost blanket,” which is just a thin piece of fabric designed to protect plants from cold, can also be used to cover your plants. Plants should be taken indoors for the winter or placed in a sunroom or greenhouse with plenty of natural light in regions of the country where cold temperatures last for months at a time (essentially everywhere else save California).
However, heated temperatures can also do harm if they are not controlled, so they are not the only bad guys in this tale. A variety of things can happen to your plants when it becomes too hot (90 degrees Fahrenheit and above), especially when combined with full sun exposure. For example, leaves may shrivel and/or burn, water inside plant cells may steam and explode, and root systems may become fried.
Because soil is not a very good conductor of heat or cold, succulents planted in the ground with developed root systems can withstand high heat and cold more better than those planted in containers. On the other hand, containers easily conduct heat and cold, focusing such extremes on the roots of the plants.
There are always exceptions to the norm, just like there are in everything else in life. Succulents can withstand temperatures well below freezing and temps as high as 100 degrees. Drive about and observe what sorts of succulents your neighbors are successfully cultivating to find out what varieties work best in your specific climate.
Moisture and Extreme Temperatures = Bad News
Extreme heat and dampness are among the most troublesome environmental conditions. You should never put your plants in a situation where they are both hot and damp or cold and wet. Whether in the ground or in containers, plants that are grown in dry soil perform far better than those that are not. The water in the soil might start to steam in exceptionally hot weather, thus “cooking” your plants. Water can obviously freeze in freezing or subfreezing temperatures, harming the root system and producing rot. If you absolutely must water your plants when extremely high temperatures are predicted, try to do so as early as possible, ideally before 7 a.m.
The TLDR (too long, didn’t read) Summary
Average temperatures are much preferable to harsh ones for succulents. Frost damage can occur in cold conditions, whereas scorching and atrophy can occur in hot temperatures. Paying attention to what your plants are saying is the simplest method to make sure they are content. Bring them indoors or wrap them in a frost blanket if they are suffering from frost damage. Move them to a sheltered spot or cover them with shade cloth if they are scorching or wilting.
How cold should it be for succulents?
Whether a succulent is a soft or hard succulent determines what temperature it can withstand.
Anything warmer than 32 degrees F will be enjoyable for soft succulents. preferably over 40 degrees.
These plants cannot endure colder than freezing temperatures. Their hefty, thick leaves, which serve as water reservoirs, will freeze and destroy the plant.
Succulents that can withstand the cold can sustain -20 F. The best it can manage is a zone 4 to 5, and let me tell you, that is very impressive.
You must keep in mind that even if they can withstand temperatures below zero, they still like dry soil. That remains constant.
The majority of winters in the contiguous US will not only be dry but also wet and snowy.
What temperature is ideal for succulent plants inside?
A fast-draining soil and at least six hours of bright, direct sunlight should be provided for these residents of the highland region. With less light, their color can deteriorate. Although they can tolerate very cold temperatures at night, they thrive at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 and 23.9 degrees Celsius) during the day. Water lightly, let the container fully drain, and wait between waterings to let the soil dry out (water again if the plant shows signs of shriveling). During the spring and summer, fertilize four times at a quarter strength using a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. The mother plant will die off in four to six years, but once the “chicks” emerge, you may easily repot them to begin new plants. Advice: Hen-and-chick arrangements of Echeveria elegans and hybrids are also available. They can be treated similarly and have very similar appearances.
Succulents enjoy heat, right?
Don’t allow the hot, harsh sun hurt your succulents! Unlike frost (temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower), heat normally poses no threat to succulents. The majority of plants can tolerate temperatures higher than you’re comfortable with, as shown by greenhouse temperatures that rise into the triple digits on hot days, despite the fact that some don’t seem to thrive in temperatures above 80 or 90 degrees F. Succulents, though, can succumb to heat and sunlight. All smooth-leaved succulents, excluding desert cacti and agaves, require sun protection in the summer, especially when the temperature rises beyond 80 degrees.
If you live in an arid climate ~
- Identify the sun’s position relative to your property. In North America, plants growing on the north side of your house will receive the least solar exposure while those growing on the south will receive the most. My garden, which faces east, receives early sunlight and midday shade. West-facing gardens receive early shade and afternoon sun.
- When temperatures are at their highest in the middle of the day, “bright shade” (no direct sun but not deep shade) is great for non-desert succulents. For low-light succulents like haworthias, bright shade is needed. Visit our website’s Shade Succulents page to learn more. View my video about Shade Succulents.
Above: Although robust, the echeverias on the left in the brilliant shade have lost their color. The borders of those exposed to more sun are red, but they are smaller due to some stress.
- Keep track of where each new plant you purchase was situated in the nursery. Was it in the open or covered by a tarp? It will need to be “hardened off” (shaded, especially in the afternoon) until it acclimates, even if it is a “full sun” succulent like an agave. This kind of exposure is like tanning: Start with 30 minutes of sun, then gradually increase it by about an hour per day.
- Aloes and crassulas need at least a half-worth day’s of sun to turn red and orange, but not so much that the tips of the leaves shrivel or burn. (Read “How to Stress Succulents and Why You Should. “).
Above: Dryness and heat stress this jade (Crassula ovata). To maintain its life, the plant is gently draining its leaves. However, leaves will be plump and greener after irrigation or rain (which could take months).
- Cover exposed, horizontal stems of trailing succulents (aloes, senecios, othonna, and the like) with dry leaves or mulch to prevent burnt stems from impairing the ability of the plants to transfer moisture from roots to leaves.
- Use floating row covers (preferably), shade cloth, old sheets, or temporary shade structures to protect newly installed plants and in-ground succulents prone to sunburn. I employ rusty window screens. In an emergency, place upright leafy tree trimmings next to a plant you wish to preserve, on the side that receives the most sunlight. Or, in keeping with the sun’s movement throughout the day, use outside furniture.
Above: Aloe brevifolia, a stunning but stressed plant, has closed its rosettes and changed color from blue to pink.
- Learn how plants defend themselves. When the sun becomes unpleasant, succulents can’t flee to the shade, so some species create their own. Succulents with rosettes, such dudleyas, aeoniums, and some types of aloe, close their rosettes to save their critical cores. Lower leaves that become dry but don’t drop off serve a service by protecting flimsy stems from the sun in the summer and the cold in the winter.
- Where shade will be needed during the long, hot summer afternoons, plant trees and plants. (The Companion Plants chapter in Designing with Succulents, 2nd ed., has information on low-water cultivars suitable for succulent gardens.)
What sunburn looks like
The floppy leaves of this agave stretch (and weaken) the cells in those areas that are most exposed to sunlight.
Succulents with white, beige, or black patches have been sunburned, which causes irreparable cell damage comparable to frost. The plant is alright, but scars will endure just as long as the leaf.
These aeoniums generally have sunburn on the underside of their lowest leaves, which they will shed in a few months anyhow. Very effective, wouldn’t you say?
Several months later, the same aeoniums. Only a few scorched leaves are still visible.
It is preferable if the damaged parts are on the outer leaves because fresh growth from the rosette’s center will eventually cover up burnt spots. In any event, lower leaves naturally wither and fall off, damage or not. Recovery from a sunburn could take several months to a year, depending on the succulent and the time of year.
Summertime Succulent Watering. Okay, everyone is aware that succulents require little water. They aren’t “no-water plants,” though. Even though they might make it through the summer without irrigation… [Read more…]
A heat wave shouldn’t ruin your succulents. Succulents that are exposed to the scorching sun may burn when a heat wave follows cool weather. The beige or brown patches that develop as a result of sunburn cannot be removed. [Read more…]
Succulent Stress Management (and Why You Should). Some succulents exhibit beautiful reds and yellows when exposed to lots of sunlight, but how much “stress” the plants need depends on… [Read more…]
Are succulents too cool for 50 degrees?
You might be curious about the lowest temperature at which succulents cannot survive when taking care of them. Warm, arid regions are where these plants are native. Nevertheless, while some succulents can endure colder temperatures, others cannot. What degree of cold is therefore too much for your succulent?
Any temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit is too chilly for succulents, which typically require temps between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the species, a succulent’s lowest temperature tolerance varies.
I have succulents, when should I bring them inside?
Again, a lot of this depends on where you reside and what you’re growing. You should generally bring your succulents inside before the first frost. In the US, this occurs during the end of September for many people.
Naturally, if you are raising cold-tolerant succulents, they can spend the entire winter outside.
Knowing your local growth zone is crucial. You should at the very least be aware of your region’s typical low temperature. For instance, we were in Zone 5 when I lived in Utah. The majority of my succulents at the time were Zone 9 plants.
All succulents with a Zone rating higher than 5 must spend the winter indoors since they cannot withstand the cold.
Since I currently reside in a Zone 9 region near Phoenix, most of my succulent plants perform well year-round outside. Only a few succulents classified as Zone 10 or 11 will require spending the winter indoors.
Therefore, begin by classifying your succulents. Afterward, ascertain which growth zone you are in. Look how how the two contrast! Plants that are rated higher than where you reside should be brought inside.
You can use this video to decide whether you should bring your succulents indoors for the winter.
Do succulents survive the cold outside?
There are many succulents that can endure the winter outside, even in extremely cold locations. These
Succulents that are hardy thrive in chilly, snowy winters. Sempervivum heuffelii, which maintains vivid colors for Winter Interest, is one of our favorites. The frost-hardy Sedum cultivars are especially recommended since they create excellent ground covers in practically all regions.
Can cacti be left outside?
Succulents are drought-tolerant plants because they can retain water in their large, irregularly shaped leaves. Succulents have a broad variety of eye-catching shapes and textures, which provide any landscape aesthetic interest. Can succulents live outside? is an often asked question. The quick response is “yes”! Growing succulents outdoors is an excellent alternative because they do well there and can withstand some neglect. They also do well in sunny areas with warm, dry weather.
Succulents can be grown in the ground, in pots, or hidden in unexpected planting locations. Take the uncertainty out of caring for these wonderful conversation pieces with stunning foliage by reading our suggestions for growing succulents outside.
How frequently do I need to water my succulents?
During the months that are not winter, when the temperature is above 40 degrees, you should water your succulents every other week. You should only water your succulent once a month in the winter (when the temperature falls below 40 degrees), as it goes dormant at this period.
A few situations constitute an exception to this rule. Because their tiny leaves can’t hold as much water as other varieties with larger leaves, some varieties of succulents need to be watered more frequently. In the non-winter months, feel free to give these small leaf succulents a water if they appear to be thirsty. When they are thirsty, succulents generally exhibit a wrinkled appearance. But always keep in mind that being underwater is preferable to being overwater.