How to treat a plant that has been exposed to cold, wet conditions

How to treat a plant that has been exposed to cold, wet conditions

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Cold stress can severely damage your plant’s overall health, as it can lead to both overwatering and frost damage.

WHY CAN THIS CAUSE PROBLEMS?

Placing a plant in a drafty or low temperature area or a place where temperatures that are too low for it will reduce the amount of water your plant needs. Therefore, if you continue to keep it on the same watering schedule as normal, it can easily be overwatered.

Some plants are more sensitive to cold than others, and each plant has a certain temperature range that it is able to withstand. You can check this by looking at your plant’s ‘Info’ tab under ‘Ideal temperature’. For the most part, houseplants are typically tropical, meaning that they are best-suited to warmer temperatures all year round - between 65 - 80 °F (18 - 24 °C). If a plant is kept in conditions that are much too cold, it may suffer so much stress/damage that it dies. A plant might also get cold stress and damage due to sudden, drastic changes within the range it has potential to tolerate, if not acclimated slowly enough.

Some plants go into a state of dormancy during the winter, which is also an important factor when considering its watering need, as it is greatly reduced when in a dormant state. Being aware of this can you prevent damage from overwatering.

As well as keeping an eye out for potential signs of overwatering, you should try and monitor your plant’s growth - if it’s kept in the cold, growth will likely slow or may even stop entirely.

Frost cold damaged snake plant sansevieria

WHAT TO DO NOW

To help your plant recover, first remove it from the source of the cold stress - attempt to find a less drafty area and move it to a warmer location in your home.

If it's showing signs of having been overwatered, you'll also need to make sure that your plant isn’t sitting in water - this is never good for your plant! Ensure that your plant has sufficient drainage by checking that there are holes in the bottom of the pot, and consider changing the potting material if it seems to be draining more slowly than normal.

If the soil is especially wet, it may be a good idea to gently remove your plant from its pot and place it on a paper towel for a few hours to allow it to dry out (again, make sure that wherever you place the plant while it’s drying is draft-free and warm enough so as to avoid placing it under any more stress). It may be necessary to repot the plant entirely - remove any wet soil and allow the pot to dry before replacing the plant in the pot with new, dry soil.

If the plant has been shocked by cold temperatures or is already showing signs of damage such as browning leaves or black parts, remove most of the badly affected parts of the plant, as they will never recover. If the damage isn’t too extensive, you can just carefully trim away the dead tissue from otherwise healthy parts of the plant.

A plant that's been severely damaged by cold temperatures or frost will be stressed for a time and need reduced watering. With gentle care and a safe, warm and bright placement it will hopefully recover and start to produce new and healthy growth.