Troubleshooting Guide to a Frozen Snake Plant (+ Prevention)
A frozen snake plant can result from exposing your plant to freezing temperatures. In this article, learn how to treat a frostbitten sansevieria and prevent it from happening in the future.
- snake plants display specific symptoms when exposed to freezing temperatures
- treating frozen snake plants quickly is necessary to prevent the spread of rot
- it is easy to prevent snake plants from becoming frozen by familiarizing yourself with their temperature range limitations
Discovering parts of your beautiful snake plant have frozen can be devastating. While it is heartbreaking, the good news is your plant can be saved.
This troubleshooting guide will explain the symptoms to look out for and the following steps to remedying your damaged plant.
In the last section, we’ll look at ways to prevent a frozen snake plant in the future. So grab a hot cup of coffee, and let’s get into it.
Frozen Snake Plant: The Facts
Snake plants are renowned as one of the hardiest indoor plants. They can tolerate a myriad of neglect and still thrive – making them an excellent plant for novices or beginners.
However tough a snake plant may be, they still have a few weaknesses, like being overwatered and susceptibility to becoming frozen.
We’ll be exploring the latter of the two snake plant weaknesses in this section.
Why do Snake Plants Freeze?
Ironically, the characteristic that makes snake plants easy to care for and low maintenance is their biggest risk when exposed to freezing temperatures.
Snake plants are succulents and, as such, can store water in their leaves and roots. They developed these water reserves due to the sporadic rainfall they receive in their native environment on the continent of Africa.
As you may already be aware, when water freezes, it expands. A study by the International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam showed water expands by approximately 9% when frozen.
As you can imagine, this is not good news for snake plants.
When the water stored in a snake plant’s leaves begins to expand, it causes irreparable damage to the cellular walls of the leaf cells. Even when the water warms up and returns to a liquid state, it is already too late. The parts of the snake plant that suffered the frost will be damaged and begin to rot.
What are the symptoms of a Frozen Snake Plant?
You can recognize the parts of a snake plant that have suffered from frostbite by observing the following symptoms:
- The frozen parts tend to be off-color to other parts of the leaf. It will appear as if the leaf has become water-logged.
- Due to the damage to the cells in the leaf, the frozen parts will feel soft and mushy because the leaf has lost its integrity and structure.
- The skin will appear wrinkled because as the water expands, it stretches the skin. Once it returns to a liquid state, the skin becomes saggy and wrinkled.
If the frozen parts of the snake plant remain unnoticed and are left untreated, the rot will begin to set in. When your snake plant is rotting, the leaves will appear brown and soggy and may even smell rotten.
In the next section, we’ll explore the NEXT STEPS involved with remedying your frozen snake plant.
NEXT STEPS: What to Do with a Frozen Snake Plant
Okay, we hate to be the ones that break the terrible news to you. But once a snake plant’s leaf suffers damage, it will not return to its original state.
We’ll discuss the next steps you should take depending on the damage to your frozen snake plant.
Frozen Snake Plant with Minor Damage
The best-case scenario is you have caught the frozen leaf in the early stages, and only parts of the leaf have suffered frostbite.
The frozen parts of the leaf didn’t extend across the entire width of the leaf, leaving the vascular system (xylem and phloem) intact. The snake plant can still transport nutrients to and from the leaf, keeping it alive.
In this case, trimming the leaf to remove the damaged parts will keep your snake plant healthy. While also preventing the spread of any rot that may develop from the damaged frozen parts.
Frozen Snake Plant with Extensive Damage
The worst-case scenario is when your snake plant experiences frostbite across most leaves, including parts of the root system (primarily when the ground freezes outside).
You’ll recognize when your snake plant has suffered severe damage because all the leaves will be sagging and falling down. They will also be brown and look incredibly dire.
Unfortunately, we do not have good news. It is likely your snake plant will not survive.
We recommend saving your plant using propagation in severe cases such as this. Locate any remaining healthy leaves and cut them using a sterilized sharp knife.
You can choose to propagate them in water or soil – both are equally easy, and you can follow the step-by-step instructions in our guide HERE.
How to Prevent Snake Plants from Freezing
We are going to end this guide with a bit of positivity.
The good news is it is easy to prevent your snake plant from freezing in the future.
All it takes is a bit of research and proactivity, and you will understand how to safeguard your snake plant from becoming frostbitten.
Understand Snake Plants Temperature Tolerance
By taking the time to research the temperature tolerances of your specific snake plant varieties, you can ensure they remain in a safe environment, away from extreme temperatures.
In general, snake plants are able to tolerate temperatures between 65-90° Fahrenheit (18-32° Celsius).
We have a great general guide on snake plant tolerances in this ARTICLE.
Potted Snake Plants
If your snake plants happen to be housed in pots or containers, you can use their transportability to your advantage.
Bring them inside for the winter and place them in a position that receives plenty of bright light.
Be careful not to place them next to a heater, or you may end up at the other extreme and cook them instead.
Snake Plants in the Ground
If you have a beautiful snake plant collection in the ground, do not despair. You can still offer protection to your hardy plants.
We recommend sourcing and covering your snake plants with a frost protection cover sheet.
The sheets prevent the moist water from settling on your snake plant’s leaves, which then freezes and causes damage to the leaves.
It also provides an insulating layer to keep your plants and the ground warm and prevents them from being exposed to freezing ambient air.
Frozen Snake Plant – Closing Comments
Finding a frozen snake plant can be a confronting experience.
It is easy to throw in the towel and give up on your beautiful sansevieria. However, we have good news. Your plant is still salvageable.
Depending on the damage to your snake plant, there are different methods to ensure it continues to thrive.