Will Succulents Survive Frost

Yes, it is the answer. Although certain succulents can withstand frost, they are frequently thought of as drought-tolerant plants. They flourish in chilly, snowy conditions, and the extreme cold even brings out their magnificent, vivid colors. They are referred to as “Hard Succulents.” Sempervivum, Sedum, and Euphorbias genera contain some of the most hardy succulents. You may plant such succulents outside all year round because the majority of them can withstand temperatures as low as -20F (Hardiness Zone 5).

“Soft Succulents” are another group of succulents that are more susceptible to frost. When the weather drops below freezing, they must be winterized inside.

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.

Succulents: Do they require frost protection?

“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.

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.

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.

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.

I have succulents, when should I bring them inside?

Since most succulents are accustomed to hot, arid environments, they are particularly hard hit by winter’s frigid temperatures.

Some succulents, like Aloe, Echeveria, and Crassula, require frost protection when the temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The majority of the other species can endure temperatures higher than 40 °F.

No matter the genus, you should never leave your succulents in a freezer. The explanation is straightforward: because succulents hold a lot of water in their leaves, stems, and trunks, when the temperature drops below freezing, the water expands and bursts through the cell membrane. The plant will eventually expire.

The plants can sense fewer days and lower temperatures, which indicate the impending winter. However, by winterizing them, you can deceive your succulent. Before it becomes too cold outside, you can bring the plant inside and give it regular care.

Simply said, the fall is the ideal season to bring succulents inside. You need to keep your plants from detecting the shift in weather conditions, therefore don’t wait until the actual winter.

How can I avoid freezing my succulent plants in pots?

Knowing how to protect succulent plants from frost is crucial now that the weather is turning colder and I’ve added them to my garden containers. Perennial plants typically die to the ground in response to winter cold. Their roots produce new growth in the spring. However, many succulents native to warm climes lack this adaption and necessitate special care when planted in areas where the temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Debra Lee Baldwin, a talented photojournalist and author, has some advice for you. — Avoid removing the dried leaves that are affixed to a succulent’s stem or trunk. They safeguard it from harsh temperatures (cold and hot). Keep succulent plants as dry as possible. When the liquid inside of turgid cells freezes, they are more likely to explode. — Move succulent plants in pots under a deck, a tree, or the eaves. (I attempt to conceal them in places that are covered adjacent to the home)

— Position pots near hardscape, stones, shrubs, and/or walls that absorb and gradually release heat from the sun. The best exposures are to the south and west. — Use old bed sheets or frost cloth to cover succulent plants. Avoid plastic, which amplifies sunlight, retains moisture, and prevents plants from breathing.

If your succulents are damaged by frost, only remove collapsed leaves if it’s likely that they’ll stay damp and decompose. Leave them on, though, and prune in the spring if they will protect the plant from subsequent frost. — Avoid cutting straight across tip-burned leaves on slender-leaved succulents (like agaves and aloes) in order to preserve their geometric shape. — Just put it down to experience. Now that you are aware, you can find a safe place for that specific plant. (I’m attempting to get better at gardening and have joined the Solano Master Gardener program.)

What does succulent frostbite look like?

Frostbite causes the succulent leaves to look wilted and crunchy, which shows that your succulents are deteriorating over time. Can a frozen succulent be revived?

How can frozen succulents be revived?

I can’t seem to find a definitive answer on whether or not to trim the leaves/tips of my two Blue Agave succulents, which have been harmed by the cold winter we had in Texas this past March, writes Gwen Pickering in Frisco, Texas. They appear to be flourishing, although some of the lower leaves are dark green. When I do my investigation for an answer, I read both “yes cut” and “no don’t cut” the leaves. If you can, please give advice. I want to say thank you.

Gwen’s agaves recovered beautifully!

All that’s left of the damage is what you can see on the bottom leaves. The old is being masked by new growth. Basically, all Gwen needs to do is to cut the damaged leaves to a point to make the ugly tips go away.

What was the big Texas freeze?

According to Wikipedia, “in February 2021, the state of Texas experienced a significant power crisis that was brought on by three severe winter storms sweeping across the USA on February 1011, 1317, and 1520; a massive electricity generation failure in the state of Texas; and consequent shortages of water, food, and heat.”

By March 2021, I had already received a number of letters from Texans requesting advice on how to save their succulent plants. I suggested:

Your succulents’ roots may still be healthy enough for them to survive even though the top growth is severely damaged. For a number of months, you won’t be able to be sure. Spring, which is the majority of succulents’ primary growing season, can be very effective. As soon as there is no longer any risk of frost, take away any damp, collapsed leaves. By May or June, if you haven’t noticed any new growth, it’s probably time to pick up the plants and start again.

Here is my original entry for this page, which primarily discusses in-ground gardens in coastal and southern California (like my own). — Debra

Will succulents recover from frost damage?

It varies. Here are pictures of frost-tender succulents before and after temperatures plummeted to the mid-20s F:

The identical Euphorbia ammak ‘Variegata is shown here following a frost:

Zero chance of recovery. There was too much tissue injury. The Euphorbia tirucalli “Sticks on Fire” beyond it, though, is another story. Because only the top growth was frozen, there is tremendous prospect for a recovery. It shielded the healthy stems below, which were still intact.

This Portulacaria afra, sometimes known as elephant food, will be fine. Although the top growth was frozen, it wasn’t wise to trim it until all threat of frost had passed. It aids to safeguard the robust plant beneath.

If your plants—succulent or not—have experienced something similar, cut the dead top growth once all threat of frost has passed, and the plant will recover—albeit smaller, of course!

How about the aeonium that is frozen below? Basically hopeless Look instead at the Sedum ‘Angelina’ that surrounds it. It’s also a succulent, and it’s fine!

Why does frost not kill other succulents but destroy some? 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. However, some come from arid, chilly regions. See the piece I wrote about this in the Wall Street Journal.

If Your Succulents DO Become Damaged

If it looks like collapsed leaves may decay, remove them since the plant’s health is at risk. In contrast, if they get dry, they will aid in shielding healthy tissue from upcoming frosts. After the weather warms up, leave them on and prune.

Trim tip-burned leaves of slender-leaved succulents (like agaves and aloes) to a point rather than cutting them straight across to maintain their symmetry. (See underneath.)

Just put it down to experience. Now that you are aware, you can find a safe place for that specific plant.

How to trim a frost-burned Agave attenuata

This agave’s leaf tips start to melt at 32 degrees, but otherwise the plant is alright. Here’s how to quickly make things appear good once more.