Protecting Your Garden from Frost and Freeze
This is a re-post of a blog we wrote in 2014. We updated some information and wanted to share it with our loyal readers.
With the weather in the Midwest taking a roller coaster ride this week, you may have done some planting on the warm days. Well now that the forecast calls for snow and freezing temperatures, we need to protect those plants!
When temperatures drop below 32 F, it can cause plant cells to burst, resulting in irreversible damage. Similarly, the surface temperature of plants can dip below freezing causing a frost to form from dew. This can happen even without freezing temperatures.
How to Protect your Plants from Freeze or Frost Damage
- If the plants are potted, simply bring them inside during cold weather. Especially overnight, you want to bring the plants inside to store in a cool dry place.
- Water plants thoroughly in anticipation of a freeze. This will prevent desiccation and insulation the soil and plant cells.
How to Cover Your Plants for a Freeze
- Plastic or vinyl materials are not the most effective. These materials don’t breathe and therefore trap moisture inside. Instead, try cotton, linen, burlap or even newspaper to protect your plants.
- If it’s warmer during the day, uncover the plants during the day to allow sunlight in and allow them to breathe. This will allow them to absorb and store heat from the sun.
- Using bed sheets works well for protecting large plants and shrubs.
- The best time to cover your plants is just before sunset. When the sun goes down, temperatures drop very quickly and you don’t want to trap in the cold.
- If the cold weather has damaged your plants, you will need to let nature take its course. Your early spring flowers may be damaged for this season, but they will grow back next spring.