Frost starts when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  When this occurs plants can get damaged.  Frost will generally occur during clear nights where there are few to no clouds to reflect warmth back to the ground and little to no wind to disperse warmer patches of air.  Many plants can be saved from harm by sheltering them before the frost comes.  

Here are tips on how you can protect your plants this time of year:

Move Your Plants Indoors

When you hear frost is expected for your area it is time to bring any planters or hanging baskets indoors. The roots of plants in containers are more susceptible to experience problems including root damage because of temperature changes when compared to plants that are grown in the ground. The roots in the pots; especially those near the edge of the planter can turn spongy and black.  The damage to the roots may not kill the plant but it can stunt its growth.

We have a few things for you to remember before bringing the planters indoors.  Make sure the plant is not diseased before you bring it indoors, so it does not infect your other plants.  The plants should also be inspected to determine they do not have insects or pests.

Move Large Potting Plants Under Eaves or Into Your Garage

The reason to do this is similar to moving your smaller pots indoors.  Cold wind can intensify the harmful effects of frost because it removes moisture from foliage faster than the plant can take up water from the roots.  To cut down on the chance of this occurring, move the larger potted plants to a sheltered location, such as under a canopy of large trees, under eaves or moving them into your garage for the evening. You can also wrap the pots with blankets for extra protection.

Water Plants Before Frost Appears

You might not think this makes sense but by watering the plants before a frost you can actually protect them from freezing.  In the evening, the wet soil will release moisture into the air, which will raise the temperature and keeps the plants warmer, thus preventing damage to the plants.

Cover Plants With A Tarp Or Newspaper

It does not matter what type of cover you use, just make sure you extend the cover to the ground and secure the cover, so it does not come off.  If you plan on doing this make sure you place the cover over the plants before evening. This way when it gets dark, heat to the plant can be maintained. In the morning, after the frost has thawed, remove the cover. If you don’t take the cover off, you might cause the plant to break dormancy and start growing again.  This can also make the plants more vulnerable to frost damage in the future.

Spread Mulch

Use mulch to protect the shallow roots of your tender shrubs and perennials from ground freezes.  All you need to do is spread 3 – 4 inches of mulch around the base of the plants.

Use Corrugated Paper On Fruit And Young Trees

The corrugated paper will be used to wrap around the thin bark of these trees. Tie the corrugated paper on with string or a rubber band. This will prevent the bark from splitting off the trees.  These trees are susceptible to splitting because of the temperature fluctuations. You can extend the wrapping all the way to the ground; at least as high up as the lower limbs or branches. You can leave this wrapping on the trees for the majority of the winter if necessary.

If you have any tips, please share them with us!

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