“Does frost not affect your succulents?”

This question arrived yesterday on one of our Face Book pages.

The Erasmus family of Sumsaré Wines (nearby!!!)  keeps track of us (and vice versa) and lives in an area with many indigenous succulent plants such as mesembs, haworthias and aloes.

Our answer: “We hardly have ‘frost’. Just a bit of ripe a few times per year (gone before 8AM). Quite a few succulents can have -3 to 4 degrees Celcius during a few hours; we even know of a cactus (San Pedro) that survived minus 20 C and snow in Yorkshire UK. But if somebody tells you that cacti grow virtually everywhere in South Africa (as a nursery man once told in the TV-program Top Billing) we can assure you that this is nonsense for in a large part of this country ‘Black Frost’ occurs. Majority of succulent plants including cacti don’t survive ‘black frost’ but it is interesting to see which succulent plants survive in those areas.
“Black Frost” is when suddenly in a very short time the temperature goes down to several degrees Celcius below zero.

Thanks for this question. The answer also explains why we always ask our customers about their local environment including the occurance of ‘black frost’. This to avoid dissapointments.”

 And word spreads for more and more people from areas with ‘black frost’ are buying succulent plants at our nursery or contact us per email with the question where they can find a reliable succulent plant nursery within driving distance. There are not that many of these but to mention a few: Obesa in Graaff Reinet, Fynkwa in Oudshoorn, Cambroo in Pretoria and (not primary succulents) Simply Indigenous in Hartebeespoortdam.

Oh … and there is a difference between frost and frost: Ripe is the ‘white’ on your lawn caused by a tiny bit of frost, dissapearing early in the morning (sun). In Holland they call it ‘nachtvorst’ (nightfrost) that leaves ‘rijp’ (ryp = Afrikaans word for it). Frost is real frost that goes below -1 to 2 degrees Celcius for a longer period.

The quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma) originates from Namibia and is naturally distributed into South Africa (Northern Cape, up to Kenhart) in areas with some frost.