Frozen succulents

Succulents are habitual to temperature drops at night time, but they do get frostbite in winters when the temperature drops are sudden and much lower than what they can stand. A lot happens to the inside of frozen succulents but, outward signs can be insufficient to tell the real story. But, one needs to take care of their succulents and look for the frost signs carefully after the cold season. If the damage signs are not extensive, succulent is revivable. 

What do frozen succulents means?

Succulent is the species that store water for rough conditions; they hold this extra moisture in their cells. When the temperature drops a lot, water in the cells freezes; expanding them to the maximum and ultimately leads to their bursting. As the cells burst, the growth process of the succulent gets badly hurt and rotting starts. However, succulents have got their defense mechanism, as they sacrifice their top leaves and parts to save the lower ones, as to have hope for future revival. But, if the temperatures are too low, it can lead to frozen succulents, reducing the chances of revival by self.  

If the drop is sudden or your succulent witnesses a snowfall, hailstorm, or a shower before temperature drop, it may catch the frostbite. Its leaves will freeze from inside to outside, below water freezing temperatures will solidify the water storing cells, and a layer of ice will cover the leaves. Leaves of frozen succulents turn crisp and the edges of the leaves go blackish or purple in some cases. And, when the ice will melt, the succulent may collapse, as all the growth and maintenance systems will be dead if the freezing extended for a time. 

You can imagine now what it means; it merely says that we are going to have a dead succulent in our garden if the freeze is severe. 

Can we revive frozen succulents? If yes, then how?

Succulent revival from frostbite depends very much on the extent of damage that has happened to it. As you must have read on top, exterior signs do not tell the complete story of freeze damage, so wait till the inner signals show up, based on which, we will improvise our steps to revive the frozen succulents. So, before taking any action, the first wait for a week or more to assess the damage, don’t pull off the dead succulent right away. 

After the waiting period is over, start with the leaves and parts that are brownish and show no signs of life. First sanitize your knife with rubbing alcohol or soap and water, and cut off the pieces that are soft and squishy. If after removing the dead tissue, you see signs of new leaves and growth, consider the succulent to be alive and recoverable. Else, you remove the dead frozen succulents from the container and throw it away, as they will rot more and will attract bugs and infections, which may hurt the lives ones also. Now, put the salvaged succulent away from the direct sunlight, to acclimate it to the temperature changes. Refrain from watering, till it starts to show callus formation at the places where you removed the damaged part. It will heal slowly and will come up with more calluses all over.  

But, in case the core of the plant is also damaged and feels mushy and black at the base, then saving it will be challenging, and you will need a brand new plant to replace the older one.

Why some succulents freeze and some don’t?

The behavior of succulents for the winter months majorly depends on their capability to hold cold. Some varieties of succulents are suitable for winters, as their origin is from the areas that witness sharp temperature drops. The structure of succulents also plays a role in keeping the cold away; some succulents follow the strategy of dying from outside, to save their inner growth. Water storing capacity is also different for varieties of succulent.

How to acclimate frozen succulents to outdoors after revival?

The succulents you saved from the frost need to be in outdoors now, and along with the other succulents that you moved indoors for winters also need the fresh air and sunlight. But, driving them back needs to be done in an organized way, and should not be done haphazardly.    

Make frozen succulents habitual to sunlight slowly.

Bringing frozen succulents to sunlight is a step by step procedure, you can’t put them out to harsh sunlight at one, and this will harm them more instead of doing good. It would be best if you do it over a couple of weeks. First, you should put them out in the shade, where they are away from direct sunlight, but feel the heat. Then you can move them to a partially shaded area, and after they have become comfortable to it, you can proceed further to the brighter location. 

But, all this process depends heavily on the type of succulent that you had selected to move. As some succulents prefer direct sunlight, but some like indirect heat. Some may bear the afternoon sun, but some like the morning-evening rays only. Also, small and young succulents prefer indirect sunlight, as their parts are more susceptible to sunburn. 

Keep a watch on sunlight needs of succulents.

Your garden may contain different varieties of succulent, of which some prefer more sunlight, but some do great in lesser. But, you will have to understand these needs, as after the frost months urge is to put all the succulents in or near the excellent sunlight area. As you put them in the shaded area, you will have to notice the changes in them, as to which are looking comfortable and which are looking stretched or leaned towards sunlight source. 

Depending on that you will have to move them in the direct exposure, as to normally behaving succulents in the shade might be customary to lesser sunlight than the stretched ones that want more. So, you might have to move the leggy succulents to brighter place and succulents that are showing the sunburn sign to shade, all that depends on your watchful and learning behavior.

Scale-up watering gradually

As now the dormant time is over, the water requirement will increase now, with the increased sun exposure. The growing period demands more water; the base temperature is more direct and also the daytime duration. Water storing cells will become active now to stock up extra moisture, as there will be no signs of frost season soon. 

However, that doesn’t mean to do watering in excess; care is essential about over-watering, or you may end up with frozen succulents. And use the watering method of soak and drying or whichever you are comfortable with; the only thing to care about is soil base is dry when you’re adding water to it. 

Start the nourishment schedule.

Dormant time is over; new growth is around the corner with spring coming in; it is an excellent time to give the succulents their much-needed nutrition. After you have balanced out the watering schedule, you can continue with the fertilizing schedule to speed their growth. As now the succulents have adjusted to the new surroundings and schedule. However, over-fertilization is harmful; it’s a welcoming invitation to infestation and infections.  

Realizing the old proverb, ‘prevention is better than cure,’ we must practice the ways to avoid the problem of freezing, that’s the best thing we can do to evade this deadly situation. This video will help you understand it better.

  • Choose your succulents wisely; do not choose the succulents from warm areas if your region receives chilly months. 
  • Do less watering before the winters, as more water means more moisture in soil means, more water in cells which increases the chances of freezing.
  • Use frost cloths for the outdoor succulents, as they don’t get wet like sheets in a shower before cold and also they are better than a plastic cover which holds moisture. 
  • Move you succulents to indoor if the weather is too cold, you can also have artificial lights and airflow mechanism to look after, keep the watering to a minimum.
  • Use warm carriers like cars, enclose the plants in cardboards before moving too far places.
  • When moving, use plastic pots instead of clay pots as they are cold. And also keep them in cardboard boxes as it saves them from freezing and retains heat. 
  • Prepare a structure in advance, for the succulents in the outdoor garden, or give them the cover of other plants. 

Final Words on frozen succulents

Getting back your succulents back after a disaster feels excellent, but the recovery becomes tough if frozen succulents had too much damage. With the learning of method to revive them and to prevent this situation in advance, succulent lovers will feel more positive about putting efforts to glorify the beauties in their garden!