How to Save Houseplants from Frost Damage


It's no secret that most house plants do well if offered occasional ventures out into some fresh air. A journey outdoors allows indoor plants a chance to "breathe" by aerating the soil and leaves and soaking in natural sunlight. But even the most green-thumbed of plant keepers has made the occasional mistake of leaving delicate houseplants out overnight, exposing them to temperatures tropical dispositions can't handle. You may not have to throw out that lovely specimen just because of a little frost damage. With some careful preening, you may be able to revive your plants.

Step 1

Bring the plants inside immediately to avoid further exposure. Place them in a warm area without direct sunlight. It is critical that the frost-damaged plants be kept inside until any danger of frost is past. Additional damage at this point may finish them off.

Step 2

Cut off any frost-damaged leaves at the base of the stem immediately. Frost damage cannot be healed by most plant species; cells that have been exposed to freezing temperatures may never be capable of photosynthesis again. Remove the entire leaf, not just obviously injured portions.

Step 3

Water the plant thoroughly. Continue watering as you normally would for the next two or three weeks. Do not fertilize the plant.

Step 4

Keep a close watch on the plant. Remove dying leaves and stems as needed, even to the point of razing the plant to the soil. Recovery from frost damage is tricky. Frost not only harms plants' photosynthesis capabilities -- slowing down the re-growth process -- but can cause damage to cell walls that takes weeks to show its full effect.

Step 5

If new growth begins to appear, fertilize the plant and move it to a sunnier location indoors.


  • Gardening Know How: Tips for Saving Cold Damaged Plants
Keywords: save plants, frost damage, frost plants

About this Author

Nicole Galipeau has been writing professionally since 2005, when she got her start submitting articles for a local community paper, The Moon Valley Times. She has since worked on web content and SEO writing for sites such as BadArmadillo, Times Ten, Inc., and Rapid Productions. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in liberal studies from Arizona State University.

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