Frost Alert! Protect Sensitive Plants

We’re expecting a cold snap this weekend, and we want to share our tips for protecting sensitive plants during this time. Not all plants need protection, but plants in the following categories may need some extra help:

• Half-hardy varieties

• Tender perennials

• Young seedlings and new growth

• Recently planted plants

• Plants in containers

• Tropical and subtropical plants such as palms

Signs of frost damage include discolored, blackened, stunted, or limp leaves and stems. In severe cases, defoliation or leaf drop. Some woody plants may experience splitting in the bark, stems, or trunk of the plant.

❄️ Bill shares in his video the trick he’s used for years to keep his Jasmine plant cozy during frost periods - holiday lights! Newer strands of lights tend to be made up of LEDs which don’t emit much heat, but if you have some older string lights, they are just warm enough to prevent frost damage to the foliage of sensitive plants.

❄️ Mulch as always plays a critical role in your garden. Adding a layer of mulch can help to regulate swings in temperatures from very cold to very hot. In this case, the mulch will help insulate tender plants. If you’re just now adding mulch, this method is not the best for fragile seedlings, but instead should be used around the base of established plants.

❄️ Move potted plants to a sheltered location, preferably indoors for more sensitive plants. It’s best to put them either in a garden room, garage, porch or frost-free greenhouse. Use indoor spaces with cooler temperatures, if it’s too warm the plant will have difficulty acclimating. Plants in pots are more susceptible to frost damage because they’re not insulated as well as plants in the ground. If they’re too heavy to move, we recommend wrapping the containers. If you have plants in containers that can withstand the cold and are easier to move, use these to surround the plant that can’t be moved for added protection.

❄️ Cover plants with horticultural fleece or burlap. You can drape it directly over the plant, or use stakes to create a tent for more fragile varieties. Be sure to weigh down the corners so your covers don’t blow away! Remove during the day.

❄️ If you’re growing veggies you may already have a row cover system, but cloches and cold frames are another neat way to protect plants from frost. Some veggies benefit from frosts, so research first to see if covers are needed. Cloches are bell-shaped containers made from glass or plastic that are just large enough to protect smaller plants. These can be purchased or made at home by cutting the bottom off a milk jug or water bottle. Remove cloches during the day. Cold frames are typically a more permanent structure that come in many shapes and sizes, and they are another great DIY project. It’s important they have good ventilation on warmer days.

❄️Right plant, right place. For plants that can grow in our area, but are a bit more sensitive, it’s important to consider where they’re planted. Put them in a sheltered corner, whether this shelter is trees, more plants, a wall, some big boulders, etc. it is important they have a wind buffer. A wall or boulder has the added benefit of heat sinking. The structure will absorb heat from the sun all day, and slowly radiate warmth at night creating a microclimate more hospitable to your plant.

❄️ Lastly, the best defense for extreme weather is having healthy, established plants. Throughout the year it’s important to give them the right organic fertilizers, amendments, and seasonal pruning.

Want to learn more about winter gardening tips? Give us a call! We’d love to help.