“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:
numerous species and cultivars of sempervivums (hens-and-chicks, above); some cacti, yuccas, and agaves (such as Agave utahensis, A. montana, and A. parryi); and lewisias from the Pacific Northwest.
Can succulents recover after a freeze?
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.
When it freezes, what should I do with my succulents?
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.
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 extreme 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 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 you thaw out a frozen plant?
You can perform a few crucial things to help resuscitate your frozen plants if they appear to be dead. Start by continuing to water your frozen plants. Any plant needs water to stay healthy all year long. You might also try adding an enhancer to the plant. This can occasionally deceive the plant into growing again.
Recall to wait. To see what happens, give your plants at least another two weeks. When necessary, keep covering them, and take the usual precautions to ensure their survival.
How can frozen succulents be revived?
You won’t know the full amount of the damage for a week or two. If you see any new growth at the base, the succulent may be able to be revived. Cut off the unhealthy areas of the frostbitten succulent with a knife after disinfecting it with alcohol. Bacteria could contaminate your plant if the blade is not cleaned.
In the winter, should you cover succulents?
If you have a variety of succulents that can survive the winter outside, you might wish to do so. Your plump outdoor greens still require adequate care, though, otherwise the frost risked damaging them.
Not to mention that your plant’s roots could decay due to the winter’s damp soil. Additionally, if your region gets too much rain during the cold season, the succulents’ cells will swell. Additionally, the plant cell walls may rupture as a result of the frost. As a result, it is crucial to take precautions to safeguard your plant from all of these harmful situations.
Although some varieties of succulents can withstand below-freezing conditions, none of the species prefers frequent watering or excessive humidity throughout the year. Succulents prefer healthy soil that drains well, good airflow, and bright sunlight. Here are some precautions you should take to ensure your in-ground plants are taken care of over the winter.
Build a Greenhouse
The majority of succulents cannot withstand temperatures below 25 F during the winter nights. Bring your succulents into a DIY greenhouse if your area has the same winter temperatures, or if you have a gazebo, cover it with 5mm plastic and move your succulents there. Make sure to securely anchor the plastic, and tape the seams. You can even include a little heater if the temperature falls any lower.
Cover Your Succulents
Cover your outside succulent plants with bed sheets if your region occasionally suffers frost. Row covers and nonwoven fabrics, which are often constructed of spun nylon, are further options. Your plants will be protected when it is 2-4 degrees below freezing if you cover them with such blankets.
Additionally, don’t remove the dried leaves from your plants because they protect them from high temperatures. Move your plants that are sensitive to cold under a tree, deck, or eaves; this will prevent heat from escaping.
Succulents should be brought inside when?
When you should bring your succulents indoors depends on a few different factors. These elements include your residence and the crops you raise.
Generally speaking, succulents need to be moved inside before the first frost. Typically, this occurs at the end of September.
Bring your succulents indoors when the weather starts to cool down if you live in a hotter climate.
When nightly lows fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and daytime highs do not consistently reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days, it is time to bring them inside.
Typically, this is the time when they start to feel chilly and show symptoms of stress or illness, such as shriveled growths or falling leaves (especially if this has happened before).
Some species, such rosette forms, can tolerate colder wintertime temperatures, but the majority of species require warmer conditions year-round—at least 50 degrees F.
Any tropical kinds growing outside will need to be moved inside when the overnight lows reach the 40s.
When it starts getting darker earlier in the day, that is another consideration when deciding when to bring succulents indoors.
If your days are still long and sunny, it won’t be essential to bring them inside just yet. However, this becomes necessary when nightfall arrives earlier than anticipated (before sunset).
Which Succulents Need To Be Brought Inside During Winter?
Based on how well they tolerate cold temperatures, succulents can be split into two groups: cold hardy succulents and soft or fragile succulent plants.
Cold hardy (deciduous) succulents are the ones that can withstand frost when the temperature goes below a certain point. When the temperature is between 20 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit, these succulents can remain outside all winter (-28.88C).
Some cold-tolerant succulent plants may not be able to tolerate dry indoor heating when brought inside for the winter, and they may become dehydrated.
Tropical or subtropical species known as tender succulents must be brought indoors during the winter months because they cannot tolerate frost below a particular temperature.
When it is at least 50 to 60 F outside, soft succulents can be kept (28.88C).