Fortunately, there are quite a few easy ways to safeguard fragile plants when colder weather arrives.
- 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. This allows some of the day’s warmth to capture and store residual heat. Here are some tips for success.
- Choose a covering such as dropcloths, 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 in heat more efficiently.
- Avoid attaching the cover to the base or trunk, which will prevent 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 cycle of photosynthesis.
- Take Advantage of Frost-Resistant Spots When Planting
When planning your landscaping’s layout, choosing plants that can withstand your region’s typical climate makes sense. However, the location of where seedlings and nursery-bought foliage is 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 some additional protection. Structures that absorb heat as well as shrubbery nearby such plants are helpful during light frosts.
- Hot Cap Smaller Plants
Create covers for small foliage and plants from items you likely already have at home. 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. In some areas, they may be called bell jars, and they fit over individual plants or an entire row, depending on the design. Cloches should be put in place before sundown and removed when the frost or freeze has thawed.
- Protect Soil with Mulch or Ground Cover
If the cold lasts for a short period, lower plantings may be protected with good organic mulch. 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 mainly 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 outside 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.