“Frost tender” succulents may experience variable degrees of damage, depending on how long the temperature is below freezing (32 degrees F). A sensitive plant’s cells expand, burst, and transform its leaves to mush when liquid inside them freezes. In a “light frost,” only the tips of the leaves may be harmed (“frost burn”). A “hard frost” is characterized by sustained temperatures below freezing, which can cause entire plants to die. Typically, succulents do not recover from roots.
Ones that are among the most fragile succulents include crassulas, aeoniums, euphorbias, and kalanchoes. Some succulents, in particular, have an inbuilt antifreeze that allows them to endure temperatures considerably below 32 degrees Fahrenheit—in fact, below zero.
Are your outdoor succulents at risk over the winter? Depending on where you reside, Please refer to “Cold Weather Care for Outdoor Succulents, By Region.”
Your area is frost-free (lucky you!) if…
This soft-leaved agave in my garden is the canary in the mineshaft when it comes to cold. Many succulents may survive a brief cold (less than an hour), but Agave attenuata’s leaf tips immediately reveal damage.
Although ugly, this damage rarely results in death. See how each leaf’s healthy green portion is? Cut each leaf to a point using scissors to remove the tissue-paper-like frozen tips. The harm won’t be very evident when you’re finished. Those shorter, clipped leaves will be buried by new growth during the summer. (Note: Such damage is comparable to scorching brought on by excessive sun and heat, which is common of desert conditions, and by wildfire, which, believe it or not, does occur.)
What about a succulent or agave that only suffers damage from frost on the tips of its leaves? Don’t even try trimming them. In a few months, it will shed those oldest leaves nevertheless.
areas with sporadic, light frosts (like Southern California’s interior):
If there is a “frost advisory” for your area, keep an eye on the weather forecast, and before it gets dark, go outdoors and cover your sensitive succulents. After midnight, frost is more common, and temperatures increase colder as dawn approaches. Warm air is lighter than cold air, which travels down hills and gathers in low areas. Succulents in swales are therefore more vulnerable than those on top of berms. You may have heard that Christmas lights slightly increase the temperature. Yes, if they are the traditional variety. LEDs in current use don’t produce heat. You should be concerned about succulents that are exposed to the elements and have nothing over them. I occasionally lean over a succulent and look up. It becomes draped if there aren’t any tree limbs or eaves directly above.
I reside at 1,500 feet in the foothills NE of San Diego (Zone 9b). And yes, after seeing the weather forecast on the late-night news, I have been outside at 11 p.m. in my pajamas and slippers, freezing while I place blankets on delicate plants while my husband holds a flashlight. I may leave the plants covered if several nights of frost are expected; otherwise, I take the sheets off the next morning. I fasten them with clothes pins and rocks to make sure they won’t blow off. AVOID using plastic. The plants are unable to breathe because of it.
In my yard, jades and other delicate succulents are covered in frost cloth. WATCH THE VIDEO
Why cold damages some succulents and not others
The origin of a certain plant type affects it greatly. Most succulents are native to dry, hot areas where they can store water in their leaves to survive drought. The ones that don’t freeze, however, are from dry, cold climates. See my essay, Showy Succulents for Snowy Climates, in the Wall Street Journal. The “hardies” include:
several species and cultivars of sempervivums (hens-and-chicks, above); some cactus, yuccas, and agaves (such as Agave utahensis, A. montana, and A. parryi); and lewisias from the Pacific Northwest.
THE IMPACT OF TEMPERATURES ON SUCCULENTS
Succulents typically prefer climates with temperatures between 60 and 80 °F. Some people can withstand temperatures as high as 90°F or as low as 40°F. These severe temperatures are occasionally used by gardeners to “stress” their succulents into changing color. Many succulents, especially soft succulents, can often benefit from high temperatures between 80°F and 90°F to keep their beautiful hues. You’ll notice that many hues will start to get more intense when the temps fall (but remain over 40F). The chilly (but not freezing) temperatures over a prolonged period of time intensify these colors. Be mindful that your succulents can suffer from temperatures that are too high or too low. Never recommend a temperature of 40°F or greater than 90°F.
Your succulents may suffer from sunburn in the summer due to the combination of high temperatures and direct sunlight, which can harm both the leaves and the root systems. You should move your succulents to a shaded place during the warmest part of the day or cover them with shade cloth. People who reside in regions with extremely hot climates might think about planting their succulents directly into the ground as opposed to in containers since soil temperatures remain largely stable regardless of fluctuations in the weather. If you want to grow succulents in containers, pick materials like concrete, terracotta, ceramic, or wood that are excellent at protecting plants from rapid temperature changes. Avoid using metal and glass containers.
Keep the temperature above freezing to prevent frost damage to your succulents over the winter. You can do this by covering them with a cloth or bringing them inside. While some tropical species like Euphorbia and Lithops demand temperatures of at least 50-60F, some cold-hardy species, like Sempervivum, can endure frost and love cool temps from 30 to 40F. Check out the Hardiness information on each of our plant product pages, where we provide thorough information on the USDA Hardiness Zone for each plant, to discover precisely whether a certain succulent variety is suitable for the climate in your location.
Do succulents recover from freezing?
Can a frozen plant still be saved? This truly depends on the kind of plant and how long it was exposed to the cold. On all save the most tropical plants, light freezes are typically something that a plant can recover from.
Remove damaged plant material from woody plants in the spring. In the late winter, you can detect which stems are dead by scratching the bark. The tissue is still alive if the substance is green below. They will lose their leaves as a result of the freezing, but they normally re-leaf in the spring. After all threat of frost has passed, maintain the plants’ moisture and apply a mild fertilizer.
More delicate plants won’t be able to endure the freezing damage and will turn into annuals. Perennial plants that have been frozen-damaged may only have little root damage, in which case you can divide the plant and replant the pieces. The ones that recovered from the root area’s cold did not deal a fatal blow.
How can I keep my succulents safe from the cold?
The first step is to relocate them somewhere warm to prevent further exposure to the subzero temperatures.
Next, let them to dry out for many days or even weeks, depending on how badly they were frostbitten. All of the mushy frostbite lesions should be allowed to dry up and scab over. Your succulent will be operating in emergency mode as it attempts to stop additional harm.
Your succulent is more likely to rot and die if you water it too soon after it develops frostbite.
If you can, clip off the frostbitten parts once they have dried out. This may require you to remove significant portions of the plant. Sometimes, you might only be trimming the ends.
For instance, the ends of a fragile Aloe or Agave plant may become dry. In that instance, you may simply trim the leaf so that it resembles a typical Agave or Aloe leaf while also removing the dried-out and crispy portions.
The center of your succulent plant is typically unaffected by frostbite, which typically affects the plant’s outer edges first. In a way, this is the “best case situation” that you would hope for.
It’s likely that the succulent won’t be able to be salvaged if the frostbite extends into the stem. Your succulent is more likely to survive if you cut off and clean out any damaged areas of the plant.
Wait another two to three days before watering once you’ve clipped off the damaged areas. You should allow enough time for these wounds to callus over and heal.
Then, when everything is once more dry, you can begin watering your succulent. To promote healthy root growth, make sure you’re employing the soak and dry technique I recommend.
It’s crucial to understand that the damaged sections of your succulents you’ve plucked won’t regrow. However, if everything goes as planned, the new growth on your succulent should be strong and appear natural.
The succulent will need some time to recover its stunning appearance, but as with most succulent gardening, your persistence will be rewarded. As your succulent grows over the coming weeks and months, it will begin to resemble its former, joyful self once more.
Make sure the succulent is covered from cold, as well as from intense heat or sunlight, when you put it back outside (or in the spot it was growing). You need to gradually reintroduce your succulent to the growing circumstances it was accustomed to before it was in a protected area.
Also problematic is shocking your succulent with abrupt changes in temperature or light.
Should I protect my succulents from the cold?
Succulents that are native to warm, arid climes can perish in wet soil, dim light, high humidity, and freezing temperatures. You can use these products to protect your succulents from the harsh, wet winters in North America. (Advertising connections.)
You could just require frost cloth if you live somewhere where frost is sporadic. (Old bed sheets also function.) This helps keep warm air from dispersing into the higher atmosphere and stops ice crystals from falling from the atmosphere from falling on plants. Don’t cover your succulents with plastic sheets that resemble trash bags; whatever material you use should let air to circulate. If plants are covered for extended periods of time, translucent cloth is a must. However, removing the frost cloth throughout the day is ideal.
Below: This 6-by-50-foot, reusable “winterization fabric freeze blanket” from DeWitt. $28 or so on Amazon.
Floating row covers made by Agribon and Pellon nonwoven fabric can both be used. Spun nylon, often known as “floating row cover,” is similar to fusible interfacing but lacks the fusible component. It can be used as a sunscreen, insect barrier (against cabbage moths, etc.), and frost protection. It is permeable to water and allows vapor to pass through. It will provide protection from -2 to -4 degrees below zero. Use C-9 Christmas light strings for added warmth.
Succulents that are in pots can be covered or moved to an overhang till spring. Depending on how cold it gets, beneath your home’s eaves or on a deck or patio (near the house) may be sufficient. The warmth that walls give out may be sufficient to elevate the temperature above freezing.
Consider purchasing a compact walk-in greenhouse that can be disassembled and stored during the warmer months if you live somewhere where the temperature drops into the 20s. Put it in a location where a portable electric heater’s cord may reach from your home.
If you must (or choose to) keep your succulents inside for the winter, equip a basement, sunroom, spare room, or alcove with shelves and tables that can handle wetness as well as timer-controlled lights and a fan. Fortunately, the bulk of dormant succulents—those that fall dormant in the winter—need relatively little water. Every three weeks or so, dribble a small amount at the base of each plant, just enough to water the roots but not enough to create pools on the ground.
mount grow lights. Light is a plant that loves it. T-5 grow lights are advised by experts in indoor gardening and growing succulents in environments with low visibility. These will maintain the color of your echeverias!
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.
Succulents should be brought inside when?
Before you even plant your succulent in your yard, this is the easiest way to find out if it will survive the winter in your region. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is referenced on the labels of the majority of plants that are sold in retailers. The label will indicate whether or not the plant will survive the winter depending on the zone you live in. The zones are separated by a difference of 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit in their lowest annual temperature. There is minimal likelihood that it will survive the winter in that area if your zone is lower than the recommended zone on the label.
Tip #2: Bring Them Indoors
Bring your succulent indoors during the winter even if it is in the right climate zone. Even though sudden temperature dips are uncommon, one chilly night is all it takes to harm your plants. They can be kept in your garage if the temperature there doesn’t fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t forget to give them three to four hours of indirect sunshine each day. Checking for insects like mealybugs and aphids is a crucial factor. Spray the leaves with a mixture of 1 part water and 3 parts rubbing alcohol to kill the bugs because you don’t want them inside your house.
Although it’s frequently overlooked, preparing your put for indoor play is crucial as well. Your succulents’ containers are probably a little muddy if they have been playing hard outside. To prevent them from spreading around your home when you transfer things inside, first clear the pot of any dead leaves and other debris. Second, clean off any extra dirt from your pot; you want a clean transition from the inside to the outside! Lastly, look for bugs. Creepy crawlies taking over your house is the last thing you need. You should be well on your way to your indoor succulents thriving after following those three steps.
Tip #3: Reduce Watering in the Late Fall
Winter is the period when succulents go dormant, so watering is even less necessary. So once the weather becomes colder and the days get shorter, stop watering them. Reduce it to once a month, but you should also check the soil’s moisture content first before watering. When the ground is entirely dry, only do it. It only takes a good five minutes to water. To prevent succulents from dying from moist roots, check that the soil has excellent drainage. Sand or organic matter with good drainage should be added to the soil for indoor plants. Mulch shouldn’t be used near the base of outside plants since it can trap moisture.
Before you fully stop watering your succulents, here’s a short tip: identify them! Winter is when most succulents go dormant, however some are winter growers. The plants that don’t go dormant will require more water than the others. Keep an eye on things at least to prevent your freshly indoor succulents from becoming overly dry. (Succulents will dry out more quickly than others if they are close to vents or heaters.
Tip #4: Sunlight
When putting your succulents indoors, sunlight is absolutely crucial! Making sure they receive adequate sunlight in the winter is challenging. To get the most indirect light, place your succulents close to your home’s brightest window. Try to provide succulents with at least 6 hours of sunshine each day for the healthiest results. They’ll begin to slant toward the window if you’re not providing them with adequate sunshine. Simply turn them the other way to straighten them out.
Tip #5: Cover Up Your Succulents
If you are unable to bring the plants inside due to impending cold weather, you can cover them with various forms of protection. Snow covers are beneficial because they provide protection from snow, frost, and strong winds. You can buy them from your neighborhood garden supply store or online. Bushel baskets can be used to cover and safeguard succulents if you have any lying about. Just be cautious not to leave them covered for an extended period of time. The plants require ample sunlight and clean airflow.
These straightforward suggestions can help you keep your succulents happy and healthy throughout the winter. Give your friends and neighbors the information so they can preserve their succulent plants as well!