10 Signs Your Plants Are Too Cold - Backyard Boss
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10 Signs Your Plants Are Too Cold

This is the season for snowflakes, mittens, and jingle bells, but don’t forget your plants in between. Temperatures are dropping, and a new set of plant care concerns come with that cold weather. Plants are just as susceptible to extreme weather conditions as humans are. Scorching summers and freezing winters can damage plant life, making it difficult for some to survive. 

Extreme temperatures can cause all sorts of problems for plants. In this blog post, you’ll discover the signs your plants send you when they’re too cold, like yellowing leaves or stunted growth. Winter doesn’t have to mean plant death – Start your plant care right away!

1. Water-Soaked Leaves

water droplets on green leaf
Image credits: Scott Webb via Pexels

Water-soaked leaves are a classic indicator that your plant is too cold. This usually happens when ice forms inside plant cells, causing them to rupture and appear similar to that seen after heavy rain.

2. Stem Limping

Small yucca tree in pot against tiled wall
Image credits: Skylar Kang via Pexels

One of the telltale signs of cold damage in plants is soft, limp stems. It happens when the plant tissue is exposed to cold temperatures for an extended period. The cold causes the cell walls to break down, leading to a loss of water and nutrients. As a result, the stems become weak and lifeless.

3. Stem Splitting

close up of splitting stem in winter
Image credits: Utsman Media via Unsplash

Perhaps the most apparent manifestation of cold damage on trees and shrubs is the bark or stems splitting due to expansion from ice crystals. The vital fluids that keep it alive will eventually escape through these splits, causing death in some cases.

4. Leaves Wilt

Wilted Yellow Flowers in a Field
Image credits: Darina Belonogova via Pexels

While there are many possible causes of plant wilting, cold damage is one of the most common. When exposed to cold temperatures, leaves can lose moisture and become limp. In some cases, the damage may be temporary, and the leaves will recover once they warm up. However, in others, the wilting may be permanent, leading to a struggling plant.

The only way to avoid cold damage is by paying close attention to the forecast and taking steps to protect the plants if frost is expected. This could be bringing them inside, wrapping them for expected cold weather, or moving them into the garage. 

5. Discolored Leaves

Unripe Chestnuts on Tree
Image credits: Vladimir Srajber via Pexels

First off, leaves aren’t always green. Many plants have different colored leaves depending on the pigment present. For example, chlorophyll is what gives leaves their signature green coloring. This essential component helps plants convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis.

However, leaves can also vary in color depending on the temperature. The leaves may turn yellow or brown if a plant is too cold. This is because the cells that produce chlorophyll are susceptible to cold temperatures. 

When the cells are damaged by the cold, they can no longer produce chlorophyll, and the leaves begin to turn color. In severe cases, the leaves may even fall off the plant entirely.

Just be aware that some plants do this when they enter a state of dormancy for the winter. Make sure to research your specific plant to ensure you’re providing the right conditions.

6. Plant Becomes Mushy

green long leaves
Image credits: Juliya Oleinik via Pexels

When plants are exposed to cold temperatures for extended periods, they can become mushy. This is because the plant’s cell walls break down, causing it to lose its structure. 

Mushy plants are more susceptible to disease and pests, so taking steps to protect them from the cold is essential. Some ways to do this include covering them with a tarp or blanket or planting them in a sheltered location.

Taking these precautions can help ensure that your plants stay healthy and strong even during cold weather. This is especially common in asparagus when they are too cold. 

7. Blackened Leaves

black spot on rose leaves
Image credits: Manfred Ruckszio via Shutterstock

Plant leaves can become blackened for various reasons, but one of the most common is cold damage. Plants, can suffer from cell damage when temperatures remain low for extended periods. 

This cell damage manifests itself in blackened or discolored leaves. In some cases, the damage may be temporary, and the leaves will eventually return to their standard color. However, in other cases, the damage may be irreversible, leading to the death of the plant.

8. Brown Tips

Crassula in pot near brick wall in daylight
Image credits: Skylar Kang via Pexels

Plant leaves may become dry and brown at the tips due to cold damage. Plant cell walls are composed of cellulose, which protects the inner cells from the outside environment.

However, cellulose is also vulnerable to cold damage. When exposed to extreme cold, the cellulose molecules start to break down, causing the cell walls to collapse. This damage can cause the leaves to become dry and browned at the tips, and in severe cases, it can kill the plant entirely.

This occurs in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet potato.

9. Vertical Cracks

Plants in winter
Image credits: Kamille Mendoza via Pexels

When the temperature drops, it causes the water inside trees to freeze. This can lead to vertical cracks and breaks in their bark which might even cause them destruction if not treated immediately.

10. Blistering

Poison ivy with blisters
Image credits: Martin LaBar via flickr

Blistering is one of the sure-shot signs that plants can be damaged by cold weather. The most common blisters form on the leaves but can also form on stems, flowers, and fruit. 

Blisters are caused by the expansion of cells in the plant tissue. With the sudden dip in temperature, the cell walls cannot expand fast enough to keep up with the contents of the cells, and the cells burst. As a result, blisters filled with the fluid form on the plant surface.

This can easily happen to carrots, artichokes, and lettuce.

Keep An Eye Out

So, how do you know if your plants are too cold? If you notice any of the listed signs, it may be time to move them to a warmer environment. 

And remember, even if your plants don’t show any of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean they aren’t affected – so always use your best judgment regarding their care. 

Have you seen any of these signs in your plants? Share in the comments.