Fortunately, there are many easy ways to safeguard fragile plants in colder weather.
- Covering Plants: The Most Popular and Effective Option
Using a covering for larger shrubs and trees or plant wrap for smaller foliage is the most common method homeowners, and landscapers employ. Proper covering creates a pocket of warm air around the foliage, but it’s essential to put covers in place before dusk when expecting a freeze. It allows some of the day’s warmth to capture and store residual heat. Here are some tips for success.
- Choose a covering such as drop cloths, blankets, bedsheets, or dedicated plant wrap, considering that woven fabrics are a better option than plastic.
- Make sure that the cover extends to the soil around the foliage. Use stakes to prevent the material from touching greenery if possible. These approaches prevent the ‘burning’ of leaves while holding heat more efficiently.
- Avoid attaching the cover to the base or trunk, preventing the ground heat from reaching the plant.
In a mixed climate or when the weather is warm during the day, remove covers to allow the sun’s heat to help the plants maintain their natural photosynthesis cycle.
- Take Advantage of Frost-Resistant Spots When Planting
Choosing plants that can withstand your region’s typical climate makes sense when planning your landscaping layout. However, where seedlings and nursery-bought foliage are planted matters, too. It’s all about dynamics. Heat rises, so plants on higher ground will be less susceptible to the cold.
Consider placing fragile plants in areas that receive the most sun during the day. Planting them near south or west-facing installations, such as walls, fencing, or benches, can offer additional protection. Structures that absorb heat and shrubbery nearby such plants are helpful during light frosts.
- Hot Cap Smaller Plants
Create covers for small foliage and plants from home items you likely already have. Milk cartons, paper bags, folded newspapers, or two-liter soda bottles can be cut or shaped to create covers for plants that help capture and retain heat.
Another option that provides a more aesthetic look is glass or plastic covers called cloches. Some areas may be called bell jars, and they fit over individual plants or an entire row, depending on the design. Cloches should be placed before sundown and removed when the frost or freeze has thawed.
- Protect Soil with Mulch or Ground Cover with good organic mulch if the cold lasts for a short period. Leaf mold or straw can also be effective. Covering the soil in this fashion helps keep the soil and beneficial, nutrient-rich organisms like fungi and worms fed.
Furthermore, a thick layer of mulch material protects root crops and is a good option in milder regions. However, should the ground freeze for long periods, certain crops should be dug up and stored in a greenhouse or other dry, frost-free area.
- Keep Landscaping Irrigated
Moist soil can hold as much as four times the amount of heat as dried-out soil, as it conducts heat to the surface and can add about 5-degrees of warmth. Some gardeners will fill up darkened jugs of water near plants where the sun warms up the liquid.
This water can be used to physically water foliage or left adjacent to the greenery to absorb some of the residual heat after being covered before dark. Remember, too much water can accumulate in potted plants, so ensure that container plants have ample drainage.
With these five easy tips for protecting plants from frost during cooler weather, your landscaping has much better odds of surviving winter chills. When done correctly and with a bit of luck, some gardens thrive more than ever when spring arrives.