Succulents are amongst some of the most interesting plants you can add to your garden.
They come in a variety of interesting shapes, sizes, and even colors which can help to add a touch of uniqueness to your garden, which it absolutely craves.
The great thing about being a succulent parent is that caring for these plants is so easy.
They do not die out easily and require minimal maintenance while being an absolute delight to look at.
However, the winter months are one time when the succulents might require a bit more attention than usual.
Dealing with a frozen succulent is something that many succulent owners are afraid of since it is assumed that once the plant is frozen, it will die out.
This is not necessarily the case, and we should take a look at how we can revive a succulent that has succumbed to low temperatures.
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Why Do Succulents Freeze?
Many succulents are sensitive to cold temperatures. Some succulents such as the Adenium, Agave, Euphorbia, and Ferocactus are winter-dormant succulents.
These plants slowly become dormant as winter approaches and go back to their original, vital forms once the warmer months start pouring in.
Many other species of succulents, especially those that are used to warmer climates, are not easily adjusted to cooler temperatures, though, and freeze damage can take a much harsher toll on them.
Not all cacti will freeze up, though, winter dormant or not. Whether your cacti suffer from frost damage or not is dependent on factors such as the kind of climate you are facing, where there is snow or hail, and how low the temperatures can truly go.
It is also dependent on the type of soil your succulents are planted in, along with how much you have been watering the plants over the past few months.
Some people make it a point to gradually expose their cacti to lower and lower temperatures to get them used to the outside climate; those plants tend to face much less cold damage than plants that do not.
Remember that just because a succulent is going through freeze damage, it does not mean that it cannot be revived.
There are many measures you can deploy to ensure that your plant recovers and comes back to its original health.
What Is A Dormant Succulent?
Dormancy is a minimized state that plants often take up during very cold months to ensure that the water and sap in their cells do not freeze up during the colder months since this can potentially kill the plant.
Dormant succulents are easily recognizable since they often become smaller and sometimes even change color, like some cacti turning purple, brown, or yellow during dormancy.
For succulents with rosettes, their leaves curl inwards to prevent exposure to cold temperatures because of large surface area exposure.
Essentially, dormant plants appear limp and dead, but this is only a protective mechanism and they often return to their original state once the warmer seasons arrive.
To see if the succulent you own is dormant or truly damaged, you should check its roots. Dormant plants have healthy roots while dead plants do not.
Dormant plants can still receive freeze damage when exposed to very cold temperatures. It can usually be seen on the tips of the plants or the leaves.
You can still revive the plant during the warmer months if you stop the damage from worsening.
How To Revive A Frozen Succulent?
Take a clean, sharp, and sterile knife, blade, or scissors for this purpose. Carefully take note of any visibly frozen parts of the plant and carefully remove them with the knife.
This also includes any wet or mushy areas on the succulent. These mushy or frozen areas will hinder the normal growth and proliferation of the plant and might even kill the plant if not removed properly.
Once the damaged and frozen parts are removed, you should allow your plant to live in a warm and sunny place so it can recover.
Another issue we commonly notice with frozen succulents is desiccation. Desiccation refers to rotten, mushy, and dead leaves on a plant which can hamper the plant’s growth or even kill it if not treated properly.
If you notice desiccation on your succulents, you should start by bringing your plant into a warm space and removing all the desiccated parts from it.
You can use a pair of scissors to cut these parts out, or you can even pluck them out with tweezers.
Also, take a look at the roots of the plant and remove any mushy and frosted roots you see.
Once you have removed all the desiccated parts from the plant, you should allow the plant to rest to ensure that no more leaves turn to mush and fall out.
Once you do not see any more leaves fall out for a day or so, it is time to assist the plant in recovery.
To help the plant recover, you should begin giving it a controlled amount of water with a syringe or bottle.
As soon as you notice that the top two inches of the soil are dry, which could take a week or more, you should give the plant more water as well.
The water will help the roots to recover and bring the plant back to vitality.
Once this is over, you should put the plant into a warm and sunny area which will further assist in recovery.
Another issue that we notice with plants is called frost heaving. Frost heaving happens when the soil and the plant contract and repeatedly expand due to freezing and thawing continuously.
This can kill the plant if not dealt with immediately.
A plant undergoing frost heaving will often show exposed roots.
To prevent frost heaving, you should cover any exposed roots with soil and make the temperature of the plant consistent by either growing it indoors or moving it away from the harsh conditions.
If you have managed to recover any plant with frost damage while it’s still cold out, it is advisable to grow the plant under a grow light indoors instead of exposing it to the harsh climate outside again.
How To Warm A Dormant Succulent?
Dormant plants require little to no water during their period of dormancy.
However, as the temperatures begin to rise, you can slowly allow these dormant plants to return to vitality without facing any difficulties.
If you notice any freeze damage on the dormant plant, you should first eliminate that since it will hinder the return of the plant to its original state.
After that, you should gradually expose the plant to warm temperatures by bringing it inside or allowing it to take up more sun in a day.
Other than that, you should also slowly start watering the plant more frequently as well. Try to make sure you water it every time you notice the top two inches of the soil being dry.
You can use moisture sticks to determine this or just stick a finger inside the soil as well.
Essentially you should start watering the plant once in two weeks or even once a week in some cases.
Make sure you are only adding a controlled amount of water to the soil, though, since succulents are very easy to overwater.
Lastly, as soon as succulents begin reviving after winter, it is the growing season, which means that they will be preparing for blossoming as well.
So you should also begin introducing small quantities of fertilizer into the soil which will help with the blooming.
How To Prevent Frozen Succulents
Of course, you would much rather prevent your plants from being frozen at all in the first place.
To ensure that your succulents breeze through the harsh winters, you should try to move them away from the harsh climate.
This is easy to do when the succulent is planted in a movable container since you can easily push it out of the cold, harsh environment and either take it indoors or put it on a window sill.
Other than that, you can also use a grow light to grow the plants. It is highly recommended that you grow your succulents indoors, under a grow light, to prevent them from undergoing frostbite and other such damage.
You can adjust the temperature inside to be ideal as well.
Lastly, you can also try to adjust the frozen succulents to cold temperatures so that they become more resilient when winter rolls around.
You can do this by slowly exposing the plants to colder temperatures during the fall months. Gradually lower the temperature further as well.
This way, they will withstand a large amount of cold damage when winters actually come by.
Having a frozen succulent on your hands is truly a conundrum. However, you should be able to revive it easily and even prevent freeze damage to your succulents if you take proper care of them.