Succulent Temperature Requirements

Succulent temperature requirements differ depending on the species. Based on their tolerance towards various conditions, these plants are classified as soft or hardy.

Generally, succulents thrive best in the range of 60–80°F. Outside of that, soft succulents can withstand a low of 40°F to a high of 90°F. On the other hand, hard succulents can survive freezing temperatures as low as -20°F.

In the next sections, we’ll detail the ideal succulent temperatures and the effects of extreme heat and cold on these plants. We’ll also give you insights into managing these conditions. So, keep reading!

Ideal Succulent Temperature

The ideal succulent temperature depends on their classification—soft or hardy. This is a reflection of their natural habitat and will tell you how to handle them. If there’s a way to know the exact species you have, the better.

Soft Succulents

Most soft succulents originated from desert-like or semi-desert areas. As such, they’ve adapted to the scorching heat and dry climate. They accomplish this by storing excess water in their fleshy leaves.

In this regard, these types don’t do well in freezing temperatures. Instead, they thrive between 60–80°F. Yet, they can handle drops to 40°F and peaks of up to 90°F if need be.

However, these deviations can bring about color changes. For example, in colder weather, the leaves of the Anacampseros Pink Sunrise can turn from green to shades of pink or red.

Since temperatures outside the optimal range induce color changes, gardeners sometimes intentionally subject succulents to these less than ideal conditions. It should be noted, though, that exposure for extended periods could be damaging and detrimental to your plants.

Hardy Succulents

Hardy succulents are native to mountainous areas that experience dry and freezing climates. So, they’ve grown accustomed to the cold.

Some of these kinds can withstand freezing temperatures of -20°F, particularly in USDA Zones 4 and 5. Plus, they prefer dry soil, which mimics their natural habitat.

Perhaps the most popular of these hardy succulents are the Sempervivum species. They have outstanding frost resistance and can survive even at -30 and -40°F.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide for Grafting Succulents

Effects of Extreme Temperatures

Succulents can tolerate minimal drops and elevations in temperature but beyond that, the results can be detrimental.

Here’s what you need to know about the effects of extreme temperatures on your succulents:

Extreme Heat

thermometer in hot temprature

During the summer, the extreme heat can cause a lot of water loss, which can dry your plants. This process is further aggravated when coupled with full sun exposure.

These factors may result in the reduction of chlorophyll production and sunburn of the leaves and the roots as well. They may develop yellowish to brown spots, appear lighter, wilt, or droop. In the case of prolonged exposures, leaves may turn into different colors altogether.

Hence, leaving your plants out in the open without protection should be avoided at all costs.

Extreme Cold

Extreme cold is as damaging as extreme heat, especially to soft succulents. As temperatures drop to freezing levels, the water molecules within the cells begin to expand as they turn into ice crystals. Eventually, this swelling can rupture the plant walls.

Furthermore, thawing out these crystals creates a pressure difference. This leads to the formation of air bubbles. In turn, this acts as a barrier preventing efficient water movement in the vascular system.

In other words, the slightest hint of ice crystal formation in soft succulents should be cause for concern. If left unchecked, leaves may turn purple or brown, or wither in the long run.

How to Deal with Extreme Heat

Now that the effects of extreme temperatures are established, it helps to know how to go about fixing them. This will prolong the life of your succulents.

Here are a few helpful tips to deal with extreme heat:

1.   Use Well-Draining Soil

You can plant succulents either in containers or directly into the ground. If you plan on the latter, make sure to use well-draining soil. This will help maintain stable soil temperatures even with external changes.

For a good soil mixture, you can use a combination of well-draining soil and sand, as well as perlite or pumice for aeration.

2.   Use Pots Made of Insulating Materials

Succulents in a pot

If you intend to plant in pots, make sure to check what they’re made from. It’s recommended to use containers like terracotta, concrete, ceramic, or wood. These are insulating elements, so your succulents will be less affected by changes in temperature.

Metal and glass pots should be avoided as they’re thermal conductors. As such, they could easily pass heat on to your plants.

Moreover, there should be sufficient drainage holes in the containers. These will prevent waterlogging and keep root systems healthy.

3.   Provide Shade

In the summer, your succulents may experience extreme heat, especially when kept in an open space. Hence, avoid overexposure to sunlight by moving them to a partially-shaded area or indoors.

This is particularly convenient when you plant succulents in containers, as they’re much easier to relocate. However, if you’ve directly planted in the ground, you may need to create a temporary shade to dampen the heat.

4.   Water

Although succulents need less water than most plants, it’s still a requirement for their survival. Hence, watering your succulents in too-hot climates is a must. This makes up for the losses from evaporation.

Just make sure that the soil is rather dry and crumbly whenever it’s time to water them. This prevents root rot.

Also Check: The 3 Most Common Pagoda Succulents: Care and Propagation Guide

How to Deal with Extreme Cold

Below are some tips to help you take care of your succulents during the winter season:

1.   Bring Succulents Indoors

The best way to protect your soft succulents from extreme cold is by bringing them indoors. This way, they’re subjected to more favorable temperatures and can avoid freezing.

Once indoors, provide your succulents with proper air circulation. This improves humidity levels. Too humid conditions can lead to undesirable moisture content. This will damage the roots and may cause the plant’s death.

Plus, it creates an environment for fungal growth that’s equally destructive.

2.   Sunlight Exposure

The warmth of the sun somehow eases the winter cold. Plus, as you know, it’s essential for food production and other plant processes.

So, make sure your succulents still get ample sunlight during the day. Aim for at least four hours daily.

That said, locate them near windows or patios that receive daylight. Without this exposure, they may exhibit etiolation or legginess, bent growth, drooping, and pale leaves.

3.   Use a Frost Cloth

For succulents planted in the ground, you can overwinter them outdoors. This is a good option if you experience milder winter climates.

However, you still need to minimize the effects of the cold. To do so, you can provide them with a frost cloth. This also prevents too much moisture from getting into the soil, which causes rotting.

4.   Water Less

Watering succulents

You should be extra careful when watering during the winter season. Since there’s less evaporation, your succulents require less replenishment. So, make sure the soil is dry before sprinkling some water.

Take note that when your plant experiences root rot, it doesn’t manifest immediately either.

Summary

Optimal succulent temperatures and tolerances depend on the species. Soft succulents prefer temperate climates. On the other hand, hardy varieties can thrive even at temperatures below freezing point.

Nevertheless, too hot and too cold conditions can be detrimental to these plants. Thus, during the summer and winter seasons, actions should be taken to keep them healthy.

This includes balancing water needs, sun exposure, and time indoors or in shaded areas. Additionally, providing the right soil and potting materials help maintain stable temperatures too.