How long can a weed plant withstand overnight frosts?

By Lee G Lyzit | Last updated: May 1, 2023

flowering cannabis plant with buds covered in frost from cold weather

Does Frost Damage Weed Plants?

A heavy frost is definitely a bad thing for a cannabis plant and can kill it quickly. On the other hand, a light frost is usually not a death sentence and many plant varieties will bounce back unharmed. I would like to note that although many varieties of cannabis can withstand overnight frosts, it is never ideal. Frost can unleash a whole host of problems, including rapid mold development or damaged trichomes.

As a cannabis grower in zone 5, my garden must endure frost most outdoor growing seasons. From my experience, there are several factors that will affect a cannabis plant’s ability to withstand overnight frosts.

How to Protect Cannabis Plants from Frost

Protecting Plants vs. Harvesting Early

Growers who live where frosts occur during the latter part of the outdoor season should pay close attention to weather predictions and/or patterns so the plants can either be covered/protected or harvested before anything devastating occurs.

However, some growers are not able to cover/protect their plants and, if it is not yet the optimal harvest time, they must let the cannabis plants endure a frost (which is better than an early harvest).

A crucial factor in determining a cannabis plant’s ability to withstand frost is the weather patterns at that given time. More specifically, the temperature the day following the frost will be a big factor in the plant’s capability of withstanding the frosty night.

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For example, if there are overnight frosts, but the next day has a high temperature of 60°F with plenty of sunshine, the plant is much more likely to safely withstand the frost than if the weather the following day is 40°F and overcast.

I have experienced both of these situations and, in the case of the latter, molds can develop within a day or two and can quickly decimate an otherwise healthy cannabis crop. Conversely, I have also experienced warm, sunny weather after a frost and the garden continued to grow and flourish.

Every garden is unique and it is up to the grower to decide what is best for his or her plants: whether to harvest early or try covering/protecting.

Are Some Cannabis Plant Varieties More Tolerant of Frosts?

Generally speaking, indica-dominant varieties of cannabis are more tolerant of frost than sativa-dominant varieties.

Marijuana plants that have their roots planted directly into the soil are also more tolerant of frosts as the root zone is more insulated compared with plants in a planting container.

The size and density of the plant’s colas, or flowers, will also affect its ability to safely withstand overnight frosts. Typically, the larger and/or denser the buds, the more susceptible they become to molds and mildews developing after an overnight frost due to the moisture created the next day when the frost melts.

Keep on growing,
Lee G. Lyzit

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Written by Lee G Lyzit | Grower, Writer

Profile Picture of Lee G Lyzit

Lee G. Lyzit has been involved in the cannabis industry for nearly 20 years. His passion for natural healing motivates him to learn as much as he can about the miraculous cannabis plant. Lee’s knowledge of cannabis gardening stems from his own extensive cultivation experiences and his past work as a hydroponic shop owner and manager.

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