Directly from the nursery
Directly from the nursery
You’re here because you want to know what temperature is too cold for succulents.
There are two answers to this question - because there are two types of succulents in the world - hardy and soft succulents. It depends on what the succulent considers to be too cold.
A few can handle below-freezing temperatures like a champ - these are hardy succulents.
It’s as if these succulents have this invisible built-in goose down jacket on or they are Melisandre from Game of Thrones - you know... that lord of the light lady who couldn't feel cold... if you don't know, may I suggest giving that show a try.
Most of what we carry are soft or tender succulents. These are spoiled-rotten by warm temperature. They built their entire anatomy to survive warm and dry environments, leaving them completely vulnerable to freezing temperatures.
If I was a succulent I would definitely be a soft succulent - I lived in Sunny Southern California all my life and made a move to New York City in January.
I was shocked at how cold it could be. Literally had to hype myself up to go outside.
Enough about that tangent - let’s get back to succulents!
The lowest temperature a succulent can handle depends on whether it is a soft succulent or hardy one.
Soft succulents will enjoy anything over 32 degrees F. Preferably 40 degrees and up.
Temperatures under freezing are simply too cold for these plants to survive. Their plump and fleshy leaves where they store water will freeze and rot the plant.
Frost hardy succulents will tolerate -20 degrees F. Zone 4 - 5 is the best it can do, and let me tell ya, that is pretty impressive.
The thing you must remember is that although they can handle temperatures to below freezing, they still want the soil to stay dry. That never changes.
Most winters across the continental US will not just be dry, they will be wet and snowy as well.
Depending on the species and hardiness of the succulent, the effects are all across the board.
Some will not change one bit, some undergo a dramatic change in colors, others will go dormant, and the rest will freeze and die if they aren't brought indoors.
Not everything is terrible about cold temperatures and succulents.
A winter in Southern California - where it almost never drops below freezing, the cold temperatures can affect the plants by either going dormant, and / or a seriously colorful change.
A consistent cold temperature can trigger a soft succulent to go dormant.
It basically says... okay, I'm cold, time to not actively grow right now. I'll wait until it warms up.
The stress that a combination of dry soil and a temperature that ranges between 40-60 degrees on a consistent basis - can have a gorgeous effect on succulents.
During this special time of the season, green succulents in the warmer months will sometimes turn pink or red, and purple succulents will turn darker purple hue in some cases.
The stress and colors aren't bad for the succulent, but it is something to take note of.
Check the weekly weather forecast - if you notice the weather dips below freezing at any point in the week, maybe bring them indoors or cover them with frost cloth overnight to keep them safe and preserve their cold weather color.
So far I have noticed the Anacampseros Pink Sunrise go through a dramatic color change in the fall and winter. When temperatures get between 45 - 60 consistently, the pink really pops.
I have also noticed the Graptoveria Debbie goes from a pale pastel purple to deep purple foliage in the colder months.
The outcome is never awesome when you leave soft succulents in freezing temperatures.
It always ends in a freezing to death situation - totally preventable.
Best to bring them indoors to a warm and cozy area in your home.
These succulents will do just fine in cold weather but will want the soil to drain fast and dry out quickly. Hardy succulents are still susceptible to root rot.
There are 2 species that do especially well in below freezing climates - all Sempervivum and some Sedum.
Not all Sedum are cold hardy though.
It’s important to look at a succulent’s hardiness zone to determine if it can handle the environment you are going to provide it outdoors.