Succulents originate in desert settings. While temperatures are hot during the day, they can also get very cold at night.
But, if you’re living in a wintry place, you might hesitate in growing a succulent as you’re unsure whether it can survive the cold.
Also, it can be hard to determine exactly how much cold each species can tolerate.
So, if you’re curious to find out if succulents can survive the cold, better keep reading.
Can Succulents Survive the Cold?
Depending on the type of succulent, they can survive the cold. The best way to identify a succulent’s cold tolerance is by placing them in the refrigerator or freezer while watching for signs of cold intolerance.
How to Tell if Succulents Will Survive the Cold
If you know the species name of the succulent, you can simply look this information up online.
Some succulents, like Agave and Aloe, are important for food and medicine.
There are also some good studies available related to cold weather tolerance for these species and ones commonly kept as houseplants.
However, the only other way to find out if succulents will survive cold temperatures is to test each plant out for yourself.
Here are the basic steps:
Identify signs of poor cold tolerance
When temperatures get too cold, some succulents won’t produce as much chlorophyll. As a result, the leaves may change color from green to purple, red, or some other color.
A succulent that changes color can still be hardy enough to make it through the cold temperatures. It may not grow as fast, or it may go completely dormant.
As temperatures get colder, succulents will attempt to get rid of some water. You may notice the plant seems to get smaller.
The leaves may also shrivel a bit and turn inward.
If the plant is unable to withstand cold temperatures, the leaves and stems may rot. This occurrence can occur for a few weeks.
Even if the leaves and stems rot, don’t conclude that the plant is absolutely dead.
If the plant went into dormancy when it got chilled, it may not put forth new leaves or shoots until all the damaged ones are dead and gone.
Just be patient with this process. Remember, some succulents can take months on end to grow just a little bit.
It may take slow growers even longer to emerge from cold-related dormancy. That doesn’t change the fact that new growth may be going on beneath the soil.
During this time, just make sure the plant has optimal light, water, and temperature conditions.
Test the succulents for cold tolerance
The surest way to determine succulent cold tolerance is to test each plant that you have.
Start off by using a leaf or stem to make a new plant. Some succulents will root within just a few days and grow very fast, while others take even weeks and months.
Once you have a thriving test plant, start exposing it to colder temperatures.
Since the optimal temperature for a refrigerator is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, try putting the succulent in there for a few hours.
From there, you can increase the time gradually to see what happens.
If you are interested to check its survivability in below-freezing temperatures, then go ahead and put the succulent in the freezer.
Follow the same time intervals that you would use for the refrigerator testing.
Just make sure that you have some kind of light set up in the refrigerator or freezer to meet the plant’s lighting needs.
This is also a good way to practice reviving cold or frozen succulent plants.
Factors That Affect a Succulents Cold Tolerance
Sometimes, if you buy a new succulent plant, or receive one as a gift, it may not be labeled accurately.
It helps when you can look at a succulent and be able to assess its cold tolerance based on physical characteristics alone.
When water freezes, it expands. Therefore, succulents with thick, fleshy leaves or stems will be damaged when the water freezes.
Even if the temperature is at or below freezing for a short time, the cells that make up the plant may burst and die.
From there, the leaves and stems will rot.
Water Amount in Leaves
Succulents that are low on water will have soft, wrinkled leaves. If they are exposed to freezing temperatures, the water will still expand.
Since there is a little extra room, cells in the leaves and stems may survive. The plant may still recover slowly from the overall damage.
For some succulents, leaves may emerge from the roots, or from below the soil.
In this case, if the roots are in good condition, they may put forth new leaves when the temperatures warm up.
Life Stage of the Plant
Many succulents propagate by producing new shoots that emerge from the soil.
If the plant has shoots that are still below the soil, they may emerge with warmer temperatures.
Frequently Asked Questions about Succulents Surviving in the Cold
How do you save frozen succulents?
Start off by putting the plant in its optimal temperature, moisture, and light range as quickly as possible. Wait a few weeks. By this time, you may see new shoots or leaves emerging from the plant.
Can you propagate frozen succulents from the leaves?
As with non-frozen succulent leaf propagation, use a sterile knife to cut a healthy-looking leaf from the plant. Let the cut end scale for a few days, and then plant in moist succulent soil. For Ghost Plants and some others, roots may form within a week.
Can you prepare succulents for cold temperatures?
Start off by choosing a planting location near a warm outdoor wall, or some other sheltered area. Succulents may also survive in a temporary cold frame that has a heat-retaining cover. In an emergency, try covering succulents with plastic or something else that will help them stay a little bit warmer than the air temperature.
Succulents can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. It may still be a challenge to figure out if the plants in your care can withstand cold to freezing temperatures.
Others, however, may need a lot more care during cold weather to keep them alive.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.