How Cold Can Succulents Tolerate?

There’s no doubt that succulents can withstand high temperatures because of their ability to store water in their stems and leaves. However, most plant owners forget to consider whether these plants can survive during the cold season.

So, how cold can succulents tolerate? In general, succulents can handle 40°F. Anything lower puts them at risk for frost burns. Most of the time, it’ll ultimately damage your plants beyond repair, which ultimately leads to their death.

Stick around to find out more.

What Temperatures Are Too Cold For Succulents?

Before anything else, it’s necessary to know that there are two kinds of succulents: hard and soft.

Hardy succulents are those that belong to the Sempervivum, Euphorbias, and Sedum genera. These plants can tolerate subfreezing temperatures because they use the anthocyanins present in their bodies to protect them from extreme temperature changes.

Furthermore, hardy succulents are frost-resistant. You can leave them outside without worrying about your plants withering away in the cold.

On the other hand, soft succulents can’t tolerate subfreezing temperatures. It’s because the genera of this type, such as Echeverias, have adapted to dry and warm environments like the desert. So, whenever they get exposed to freezing temperatures, the water stored in their leaves starts to freeze.

As a result, they get frost burns. If it so happens that you have soft succulents, you have to go the extra mile and prepare them before every winter season. This will help ensure they can survive the sudden drop in temperatures.

Potted succulent

Effects of Cold Temperature on Soft Succulents

When soft succulents get exposed to freezing temperatures for long periods, it significantly affects their health. The following are a few possible effects that your plant might experience as a result:

1.   Winter Dormancy

Your succulent will experience stunted growth because of winter dormancy, which is an adaptive technique that plants use to make it through harsh temperatures.

In other words, your succulents will become inactive during this phase until weather conditions improve. So, don’t expect your plant to bloom or produce more leaves during the cold months.

Furthermore, you shouldn’t worry if the leaves change colors. It’s because, during winter dormancy, your plant also stops the production of chlorophyll, which is the pigment that gives plants their vibrant green color.

2.   Cold Stress

Cold temperatures are a stressor for all kinds of plants, including succulents. Aside from stunted growth, your plant may also experience cold stress.

In small amounts, cold stress may actually encourage the plants to become more colorful. However, this should only be temporary as too much stress can lead to more serious issues, such as frost damage and rot.

3.   Root Rot

If you accidentally leave your soft succulent outside in freezing temperatures, your plant might suffer from root rot. This issue happens not because of the frost but rather because of the excess moisture in the air.

Whenever moisture accumulates, it becomes a perfect breeding ground for mold growth. When the soil becomes too damp, it attracts fungus and bacteria.

Once the fungus penetrates the soil, it’ll slowly attack the roots of your succulent, which, if left untreated, can spread throughout the entire plant.

4.   Frost Damage

As mentioned earlier, succulents can store water in their leaves. So, whenever your soft succulent gets exposed to subfreezing temperatures, it’s inevitable for the water in their bodies to freeze.

When this happens, the leaves begin to wilt. They often become moist, sometimes leading to rot and decay.

Moreover, the plant might also change colors. If the leaves turn brown or black, this means it’s been burned and will eventually die.

Should your soft succulents get frost burns, remove the affected parts once you’ve confirmed new growth at the base.

Also Check: 7 Beautiful Indoor Flowering Succulents to Grow

Overwintering Hardy Succulents

You can make your succulents survive cold temperatures by overwintering. This is basically when you protect your plants from the cold by placing them in a sheltered area, like your home or a greenhouse.

Even though these resilient succulents can withstand extreme temperatures, you should still protect them by following these methods:

1.   Prepare the Succulent

If you want to transfer your hardy succulent indoors, you should prepare it first by spraying it with an insecticide. Do this three weeks before moving it indoors to ensure that your plant is pest-free.

Additionally, you should remove debris, dried leaves, and weeds clinging to your succulent. While doing this, also check for signs of infestation or mold growth.

Lastly, prepare well-draining soil and a pot with proper drainage.

2.   Transplant the Succulent

Repotting and transplanting the Succulent

After preparing your succulent, it’s time to transplant it. During winter, you should only water sparingly to keep the soil from drying out. Avoid overwatering as it’ll lead to mold and rot.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to move your hardy succulent indoors, you can transplant it to an area with warmer temperatures. However, you should do this at least a month before the first to ensure that the plant has time to acclimate to its new surroundings.

3.   Cover the Succulent

You have to cover your in-ground succulents with a cloth if you’re planning on leaving them outside. A nonwoven fabric or a floating row cover will suffice.

The cloth will serve as your succulents’ protection because it traps heat. Furthermore, it filters in light, so you don’t have to worry about your plants not getting enough sunlight.

You can use a rain cover if you don’t have a nonwoven piece of cloth lying around. It’ll protect the plants and soil against being overwatered once the snow starts melting.

Overwintering Soft Succulents

This kind of plant is much more vulnerable to the cold climate. Thus, there are three things you should consider when overwintering soft succulents: light, air, and soil.

Here’s how you can overwinter your soft succulents:

1.   Place the Soft Succulent Near a Window

Planting succulent terrarium near a window

It’s necessary to put the succulent near a light source, like a window, because it needs sunlight for photosynthesis. It’ll start stretching if you deprive the plant of any light source, which occurs when plants stretch and bend to find a light source.

If you don’t have any space in a room with a window, use artificial lights instead. Fluorescent light bulbs are ideal because they provide more energy than incandescent lights. They don’t produce that much heat, so they’re safe even if you leave them on for several hours.

Although LED light bulbs work just as well and they’re energy-efficient. Yet, they’re pricier than fluorescent light bulbs.

2.   Improve Air Circulation

Aside from a light source, your succulents also need good air circulation as it encourages transpiration and reduces the growth of fungal infections.

To improve the quality of air in your home, you can opt for a fan. Place it as close to the open window as possible to ensure that it doesn’t promote dampness and condensation.

You can also install an exhaust system to guarantee that fresh air enters your house. It also balances carbon dioxide levels, which can harm your succulents.

Lastly, you should avoid placing your succulents near walls, corners, and damp spots in your house. Provide them with ample room so air can pass through their surface from all sides.

Related: How to Revive Succulents – Simple and Straightforward Tips

3.   Check the Soil Regularly

You shouldn’t water your succulents often during the winter season. When temperatures drop, it takes a long time for water to evaporate. As such, you should only water them whenever the soil starts to dry.

Moreover, when you water your succulents, always make sure that the soil drains properly to avoid root rot, mold, and decay.

Wrapping Up

So, how cold can succulents tolerate? Well, soft succulents can handle temperatures as low as 40°F, while hardy succulents can take even lower temperatures.

Even though they can handle the cold, it’s always a good idea to overwinter them to ensure that the climate doesn’t compromise their health.