My aloe vera plant froze. Now what?

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Unfortunately, freeze damage is a severe problem for aloe vera plants. Whether it can recover depends on when the plant has been exposed to freezing weather. It is probably damaged beyond repair if the plant turns brown with a squishy consistency. However, it might be recoverable if you can see some surviving green leaves.

Read on to know why aloe vera plants are susceptible to the cold and what you can do to solve and prevent those from happening again.

Reasons why aloe vera is susceptible to damage from the cold

Aloe vera is a plant known to originate from the Arabian Peninsula that thrives in both tropical and semi-tropical climates. In hot environments, the plant can thrive outside all year round and peak during the spring and summertime in most areas.

Many gardeners often grow them due to their unique properties, aiding personal hygiene, health, wound relief, and even freshening your garden. More about that is covered in this detailed article that I wrote on aloe vera benefits and even their harvesting, linked here.

However, in colder weather, several factors make it hard for the plant to survive.

Ale vera plant components and why they are susceptible to freeze

The leaves of an aloe vera plant contain a gel that is clear and composed of water. This gel includes specific glycoproteins but is around 99% water.

This fact explains why the plant is not capable of withstanding freezing temperatures. The chemical content of the plant means that if it is left outside in the cold, it will quickly freeze due to the high water content of its leaves.

If proper precautions are not taken, the gel-like substance inside the leaves will succumb to the cold and freeze. The only question at this point is how much damage has been done.

How to tell if the aloe vera plant has been damaged by frost

A few clear signs indicate that an aloe vera plant has been subjected to frost damage. Its leaves will usually turn brownish or yellow, and the consistency will turn squishy and mushy.

Another sign that the frost has damaged your aloe vera plant is that the leaves start to have a certain glassiness to their appearance.

This is caused by the tender, soft tissue of the plant being killed by frost and is usually followed by inevitable rot and the death of the healthy parts of the plant.

These symptoms will be initially visible on the outer leaves of the aloe vera plant. The inner leaves are more likely to retain their natural green complexion because the frost generally takes more time to reach them.

If the core of the aloe vera plant is still looking reasonably healthy, this is a good indicator that it could be saved.

The stages of cold damage in aloe vera plants

When exposed to cold weather, two types of damage are done to an aloe vera plant, and these can be categorized as either frost damage or freeze damage.

I will explain these two in more detail below, but in short, if an aloe vera plant has frost damage, there is a good chance it can survive with the necessary treatment. On the other hand, if the plant has freeze damage, this is more likely to render it impossible to save, and the best option is to dispose of it and start again with a fresh plant.

Frost Damage in aloe vera plants

Due to aloe vera being a delicate plant and its natural habitat being warmer climates, it’s no surprise that it struggles to survive in cold weather.

Frost damage occurs when the plant is exposed to temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Thankfully, the aloe plant won’t necessarily die when frost damage occurs. Don’t be too alarmed if the leaves have turned brown and begun to fade; as long as there is some green left on the plant, there is a chance that it can be salvaged.

Freeze Damage in aloe vera plants

Freeze damage is a more serious matter than frost damage. If succulent plants like aloe vera are kept below freezing for hours, there is a strong chance they will not recover.

A tell-tale sign of freeze damage is the leaves turning black, becoming crisp and fading over time.

A frustrating part of freeze damage is that you will have to wait a few weeks and observe the plant to see if the damage has penetrated too profoundly for recovery to be possible.

Whether or not the aloe vera plant can recover depends on how long it was exposed to freezing temperatures. A few hours is the limit, but if it has been a whole night, the chances are it will not recover despite your best efforts.

Things you can do if your aloe vera plant has frozen

In this section, I will discuss your options when dealing with a frozen aloe vera plant and how to get the best outcome. In an ideal world, this information will give your aloe vera plant the best chance of recovering and thriving again.

Let’s start with the bad news. Aloe vera is not an exceptionally durable plant and is not well suited to colder climates.

If temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the aloe vera plant will struggle to cope with the cold.

All that we can do when our aloe vera plants are frozen is give them some care, then hope for the best.

Check the amount of frost on the aloe vera plant.

If the plant had just a touch of frost, we could remove the damaged leaves, which usually recover quickly. If the whole plant has succumbed to the ice, it is probably time to get rid of it and start afresh with a new one.

Check the leaf color of the aloe vera plant.

The only natural way to know whether the damage done by a frost is fatal to your aloe vera plant is by examining its appearance. If the leaves have wilted and turned brown, but some remain green, there is a good chance they can be saved.

Unfortunately, it is likely to be unrecoverable if the whole plant has turned brown after spending a significant amount of time in freezing conditions.

Set aside and stop watering the aloe vera plant.

The aloe vera plant is especially susceptible to damage from the cold due to its growing natural climate being warm. It is not biologically adapted to dealing with frosts due to its natural ability to retain much water.

This is why putting the plant aside and resisting watering it for a week or two if you suspect frost damage is a good idea.

The soil will remain moist for an extended period, so watering it further would hinder its recovery.

Aloe vera is a succulent plant – meaning it doesn’t require much water and will not respond well to moist soil. This explains why frost can be so damaging to the plant. The following section will look further into what measures can be taken when an aloe vera plant has been exposed to freezing weather.

Revival techniques for aloe vera plants

Now that we’ve got the doom and gloom out of the way, it’s time to discuss some techniques you can use to revive your aloe vera plant, providing the damage done by the frost isn’t irreparable.

Consider pruning your aloe vera plant.

Usually, the recommended time for pruning an Aloe Vera plant is in May after the April flowering season.

If the aloe vera plant has been exposed to frost, pruning it earlier than expected may be the only way to aid its survival.

Using a sharp knife, we can remove the dead and discolored leaves from the plant while being careful not to cause further damage to the still green and healthy parts.

Place your aloe vera plant in a warm environment.

Removing the affected leaves is a case of keeping the plant in a consistently warm environment and revisiting the temptation to provide it with water.

Over weeks, it will become clear whether the aloe vera plant is on the road to recovery, as new leaves will appear and the brownish color will gradually disappear.

Consider using agricultural sulfur.

Another technique that may help revive the plant is to dust the cuts made from removing the decaying leaves with agricultural sulfur.

This, combined with not watering the plant for a week and finding a warm spot out of direct sunlight, is your best effort to keep it alive.

Aloe Vera plants can be grown quickly and propagated using basic information. The video below will provide that information about tips for increasing Aloe Vera and avoiding other problems besides freezing your Aloe Vera Plant.

FAQs on My aloe vera plant froze. Now what?

How much water does an aloe vera plant need?
An aloe vera plant tolerates droughts, so they do not require much water to survive. Overwatering them will cause them to die. A small amount of water each week will be enough for an aloe vera plant to thrive, but this varies depending on other conditions, such as temperature and soil quality.

What are the health benefits of an aloe vera plant?
Aloe vera is an antibacterial plant with many antioxidants. It’s known to accelerate the time it takes for a burn to heal and can be added to natural toothpaste to reduce dental plaque. It’s used in skincare products, especially after sun moisturizers, as it is known to combat sunburnt skin.

How can you preserve aloe vera gel?
The are three main ways to store aloe vera gel. You can freeze them in an ice cube tray. You may also mix them with honey at a 1:1 ratio and keep them at room temperature for up to eight months. You can blend the aloe vera gel with a crushed vitamin C tablet and store it for a month in the fridge.

What is the lowest temperature an aloe plant can tolerate?
It is said that aloe vera plants can survive at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit throughout summer, while they should never experience below 40 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures during wintertime. Bring it indoors during the said time to prevent it from being frosted over.

How do you keep an aloe plant alive in the winter?
Growing aloe vera plants outside is okay for areas with mild and no-freeze winters. But if your winters are harsh with freeze, bring them indoors before temperatures dip below 40 F. They will undergo dormancy and have little growth, if any, and limiting watering them during these times is best.

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Conclusion on aloe vera plant freezing

If your aloe vera plant is looking worse for wear after being frozen, removing the damaged parts of the plant and leaving it for a week or so is a good idea. It would help if you did not water it during this period, which may harm it further.

Hopefully, the plant will slowly recover, and you can start to give it small amounts of water if there are signs of re-growth.

When they do under your watchful care, you can slowly boost their growth process by looking into their soil needs, sunlight hours, and possible fertilizer needs, which are explained in this article of mine on caring for aloe vera plants. Feel free to check it out here.

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