Succulents are known for their ability to survive without water and thrive in the heat of summer.  There are some succulents that will survive extreme heat ‘and’ cold temperatures.  There are some succulents that can survive snow and therefore there are some succulents that also can survive frost!

This is not surprising as many succulents originate from the mountainous areas of Europe.  So which succulents can survive frost?

In the Garden
For those of you who are growing succulents in the garden – there are a lot of succulents that survive frost. They will get frost damage and look unsightly for quite a few months but will eventually grow new leaves and the old frost damaged leaves will die back.  The succulents below were victims of a hailstorm (see post: Succulents DO NOT like hail!! ) Hail is like frost so far as freezing water is deposited on the leaves of the plant.

Hail damaged echeveria succulent

Echeveria

Echeveria Succulent hail damage

Echeveria

Succulent dying

Graptoveria

The same succulents below 8 months later looking healthy with no signs of the hail.  (This would be the same for frost.)

Echeveria Succulent, Colour Change Graptoveria

In pots
For those of you who are growing succulents in pots.  If you are worried about your succulents getting frost damage the best course of action is as follows:

  1. Do not water
  2. Move your pots under the eaves of your house

There are some general points to observe when it comes to frost and how to avoid damage to any succulent.

  • Do not water
  • Keep the soil as dry as possible (they are more likely to survive freezing temperatures if the soil is dry)
  • Ensure adequate ventilation
  • Make sure your soil has good drainage

Aloe
It always surprises me how hardy the Aloe species of succulent is. Aloe is a very frost hardy succulent. However,  there are some Aloe species that survive frost but if they are flowing when they are hit with frost their flowers will not survive.  Cut the flowers off as soon as you have noticed they have been effected.

Aloe succulent Aloe Succulent

Sempervivum
Sempervivums are hardy succulents once grown on roofs to protect against storms. They are native to the mountains of central and southern Europe and therefore are used to cold temperatures, snow and frosts. These are one succulent species that should survive frost without incurring any damage.  They can withstand extremely cold temperatures. Most will be fine even in temperatures that plummet down to -30. This is for Sempervivum growing in the ground or rock crevices – ie in the garden.  If you are growing your sempervivum in pots you should still move pots under the eaves of the house. The temperature of soil in a pot can drop very quickly AND be a lot colder than soil in the ground.

Sempervivum in Snow

Sempervivum covered by snow

Sempervivum

Sempervivum

Other succulents that are frost hardy are Sedums, Lewisia and Delosperma

What to do if a frost is forecast
When a frost is forecast, do not water succulents. They are more likely to survive freezing temperatures if the soil is dry. If you  have time to plan ahead, keep the plants on the dry side well before the weather cools. If it is a succulent that stores water in their leaves they are plump with water, their cells are more likely to burst when the temperature drops.

Point to note:  succulents that do survive frost and cold temperature tend to struggle with very hot summers.

What can I do if my succulent has been damaged by frost?
If your succulents are damaged by frost, the affected leaves will probably turn white or a very light colour within a day or so. The damaged leaves then turn black and mushy as they rot.  If only part of a plant is damaged, then the rest of the plant should survive.  Usually it is only the top leaves that will be layered with frost and therefore the under leaves should not be affected.

When my succulents were affected I left the leaves on the plant rather than prune them so if another frost/hail incident happened the leaves that had already been damaged protected the leaves below. They do look unsightly but this is better than more leaves being affected and rotting the plant.

Once the risk of frost or hail has passed and warmer weather has arrived you can prune the affected leaves.

 

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Mathew.

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