Jade plant frost damage

kikeenDecember 10, 2009

I'm new here and checked the forum for the answer to my question but was unable to find any info. My beautiful big jade plant has suffered frost damage. I had brought the pot in closer to the house under an overhang but when I checked it yesterday it was very droopy so I brought it in the house. Seems like I had heard or read somewhere that a little water would help a plant with frost damage. This morning I gave it a small drink. It had been pretty dry prior to the frost. Will the water help or make the damage worse? It doesn't look much different tonight. The main trunk and branches seem to be OK. Should I put it back outside with a protective cover after I cut back the damaged areas? I read here that they like the cold. I just don't want to stress it anymore than I have to. It's my baby if you know what I mean.


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I leave mine outside right up until they're predicting the first frost, but they're inside after that. They don't take kindly to freezing temps, though I understand that very short periods of freezing or slightly under freezing temps won't hurt if they're kept dry. I don't take a chance with mine. If your temps are going to stay above freezing at night and warm up during the day, it would be ok to leave it out.

As for frost damage, don't be surprised if you lose a lot of your foliage. If it's obvious it's going to lose it anyway, I would simply whack it back - just make sure to go back good, healthy tissue. I've pruned many of mine right back to having only branches, no leaves, not usually due to damage, but to create a "look." They always bush out nicely after a good pruning, so don't fret - your plant will evenually look 100% better than it did before and it'll give you enthusiasm for pruning in the future.

Denise in Omaha

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 8:35AM
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Denise gives the inside dope like the champion she is.

Your Jade (Crassula ovata, part of the Crassulaceae) can withstand freezing temperatures for a little while, but it has to be dry. It and frosts will cost the plant some foliage, but as she says, that's temporary, as long as the trunk/limbs are healthy. Put it somewhere warm and water it after it appears to be on the mend - you should give it as much natural light as possible and temps of at least 65F (more is better) - and it should start growing those little leaves of green in two weeks or so.

I've only experienced plant-killing cold temps in San Diego once, and it was of course after a rain - it probably got to at freezing. Many Kalanchoes died (mainly from Madagascar) but other Crassulaceae plants just dropped their leaves, but the stems remained solid and there were new leaves in a few weeks.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 10:28AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Christine, we've actually been discussing frost and freeze damage quite a bit lately...I'm surprised that your Search didn't turn up any of these recent Threads.

Keep your plant inside and allow it to dry out, especially the roots. Resist the temptation to water until you see new foliage growth. And, as Denise said, pre-emptively prune off any foliage that you think is already dead. This will help prevent rot in the limbs damaged by frost.

I left my Jade outside a few nights ago (at 28°F), and I lost all of the foliage. I could literally see the frozen, burst cells in the leaves. The next morning, the foliage was a soft, weeping, brownish green, and had begun to smell like spoiling seaweed.

So I removed the damaged foliage and branch-tips, and I pulled the Jade from its container. Then I spread out the roots on a pile of dry potting mix in a cardboard box. The Jade's branch-tips are now drying and collapsing, but I don't know how much branch I'll lose - I'm hoping that it doesn't go much further, otherwise I'll be left with a nub. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Here's a pic of the pruning, before I'd removed the Jade from the container


    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 10:30AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi Josh, I think GW was experiencing some technical difficulties with some of the search engines...and if you look at most of the forums on the front page...they have this written in red.I read on some of the post from a few days ago of people not being able to do any "searches". Hopefully, it will be fixed soon?

"Wednesday, December 9: We are aware that there are pages missing on some forums. We are checking into the issue."

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 10:49AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I've too heard water helps with frost. But its for regular plants/gardens.

I've heard to water well before a frost so the plant is stronger to withstand it, and to wash off frost as soon as possible.

true or not? never tried it.

But I dont think it would work with succulents, to water first because you dont want them wet.

The only ones i have that get frost are desert natives, and I let nature do its thing.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 10:59AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

No, don't water Jades when it's cold.
Cold and dry is marginally okay, but prolonged cold and wet spells tissue death.
If a Jade is plump with water, the water freezes and expands and ruptures the plant's cells.

Yay, the search function seems to be up and running.
Nancy, I read the message atop the Forum, but didn't think it would apply - considering
that the pertinent Topics are located right here on the very first page of Cacti & Succulents.
A cursory scan for the word "Jade" would have sufficed.....


Here is a link that might be useful: Search results: Jade frost

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 11:29AM
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With apologies to Nat King Cole...

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jade Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.


Not true.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 11:52AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Now, now, that's rather insensitive, Jeff ;)
I believe they prefer the term 'esquimaux' these days....
(Nice verse, btw)


    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 12:15PM
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You didn't think I was otherwise, eh?

The original didn't have the term capitalized. I saw your search criteria and the lyric popped into my head.

None sang it better than Mr. Cole.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 12:50PM
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This is what one of my large C. ovata looked like about a week after the Big Freeze of 2007 during which temps dropped to the high 20's for several nights. On the last day of five, temps dropped to about 25F, and stayed below freezing for more than 12 hours. Most plants came through with no damage, but some Aeoniums, a large Euphorbia ammak, and this large Jade in the ground had non-fatal cosmetic damage. This is what the Jade looked like about a week after the freeze:

There is no need to take any action at all until the frozen parts make themselves apparent. Then you can snip off the dead parts, or simple let them fall off on their own. I call it Freeze Pruning. This plant looked like nothing had happened a few months later.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 2:14PM
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My Jade has seen freezing temps many times,unfortunately twice this year.Prolonged cold even if not near their threshold is worse then threshold temps.
My Jade stayed at or near freezing this spring for a day,then was covered with snow,it looked like the pic above and had to be trimmed back like greenmans,(BTW greenman,your will be fine)when the branches are trimmed and there is no green color is when the damage is fatal.
Last fall my Jade(on a covered porch) saw 23(F) it had no damage as it was dry and temps recovered with sunshine back to the lower 50s.
Prolonged cold near freezing is worse.
I don't think watering after is the issue as much as keeping it "warm"if you want a speedy recovery.Water as usual,as mentioned-more water more cell wall rupturing during cold!
Hope this helps-JIM

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 3:22PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hey Josh, you are so right! After all you just posted that other thread and it was on the very first page...but glad that the search is now working :o)

Brad...OUCH! I am so glad that your Jade only suffered minor damage and bounced back soon after. Gorgeous Jade!!

Cactusmharris, love the "Jade Frost" verse,lol...

Christine, good luck with your Jade and hope it recovers.

Jojo, I was told to water my tropical fruit trees right after a freeze...but I can see where its not a good idea to do it for Jades/Succuelents.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 3:35PM
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Thanks everyone for the encouraging remarks. Yes, I had looked around for frost damage using the search and found some older threads but nothing pertaining to watering or putting them back out after a freeze. I really don't know much about the jades, just a beginner here starting out with a new love for succulents and cacti. Been doing lots of reading and researching for what's best in my area (zone 7 in the No. Calif. foothills) I had thought my jade was "large" until I finally saw some pics here. Mine is just a baby compared to those. It's about 2 1/2 feet tall but had been pruned like a tree with beautiful twisty, knarly thick trunk and branches. I think mother nature decided it needed to be a little fuller. I'm hoping it will come back even more beautiful and interesting than it was before. I actually just got it earlier this summer from a Craig's list add from a woman getting rid of a lot of old plants left from an nursery that had gone out of business. I only paid $2.50 for it. I bought a lot of stuff I know nothing about just because it was so cheap and cool looking. Now I'm trying to figure out what they are and how to treat them. Since I'm handicapped I can't really do much "in the ground" gardening but I do have lots of container plants on my decks. They looked so beautiful during the spring and summer months. I think this new hobby may turn into an obsession if I'm not careful!
Thanks again everyone.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 7:16PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Christine...Wow! What a great price you paid for your Jade, if you can Please post a picture if you have one before it was damaged...the twisty, knarly trunk sure sounds like a beautiful shaped Jade "Bonsai" like.

I'm pretty new to Jades myself and come here often to read and ask questions. Most here are very willing to help!

Please keep us posted on its progress...and Please post pictures if you can....I'm sure we would all love to see it!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 11:12AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, we love progress reports and updates!

I'm over in Nevada County, eastern Northern California, a few miles above Auburn. Our growing experiences in this environment should be fairly similar. How high up in the foothills are you? (I'm assuming Sierra Nevada foothills?)


    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 7:14PM
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Hi all. I'm sorry I don't have a pic of the jade when I first got it. I did the whack job this morning and now it looks like the one posted above. Just naked with no leaves. I'm hoping I got all the damaged areas and will continue checking in case I have to cut more back. I put it in a room I closed off with no heat next to some windows with blinds partially opened along with some other cacti I've accumulated. Greenman, I live over here just above Paradise. You're right, we probably have similar growing environments about the same elevation (2700 ft). I bought a baby Euphoria Frangapanii (Medusa) which I put in a lovely heat pot I got off eBay. It was growin like a weed outside all summer but now some of the branches (or stems, if you will) are turning yellow and shriveling. I had brought it in the house about a month ago but it doesn't seem to like it in here. I moved it alongside the poor jade in the cooler room. I sure would hate to lose it. It's pretty cool looking growing out of the top of the head vase and is now about 8 inches across. I also cut back on the watering but will have to do somemore research to see if they go dormant in the winter. Like I said before, I'm really a noob at this stuff and I sure appreciate all the info here.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 7:40PM
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Well I am going to go ahead and make recommendations for further help during frost. Do not trim off the frosted leaves, it helps protect it from further damage, and if you have no place to put it set in under another plant in the garden, like a orange tree, apple gree, anything with leaves still on. It will help protect it, if you are not having any rain, just drap it with plastic or several layers of newspapter, or prop up a old screen door, slant it against the wall and cover it with a sheet of plastic, and set your plant under it. I have used construction bricks three high or taller, in the same way. and draped platic over it to make a mini greenhouse, the Russians make mini whoop houses this way and bend plastic pipe in a U and plant them up side down like wickets an put plastic over and nail then down with rocks, so the platic doesn'g blow away, I hear just putting them in a garage will work as well, if they are cactus they are dormant, and don't need the light. You can acatually take cactus out of the pot and wrap in newspaper, as well as Sansevieria that are dormant. Cacti are dormant, they just need the cold to flower in Spring, they are full of water, that is why we can do this. Any one else with ideas? Norma

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 1:05AM
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