Winter is coming, so don’t forget to protect your plants when the freezing temperatures hit. Frost is detrimental to tropical or newly established plants. Frost occurs when air temperatures dip below 32°F and ice crystals form on plant leaves, injuring, and sometimes killing, tender plants. Clear, calm skies and falling afternoon temperatures are usually the perfect conditions for frost. Here are some tips to help you save your outdoor plant when the cold hits.
Lay a layer of 6 to 8 inches of wood chips or straw over perennials and flower beds. The most cost effective and easiest way to protect outdoor plants in the winter is to cover them before nightfall with old blankets, sheets or other cloths you may have laying around. Make sure you cover the plants loosely to ensure that you’re not suffocating the plants and they can still receive air flow. For added protection when you protect plants in a freeze, you can place plastic over the sheets or blankets to help keep the warmth in. Never cover a plant with just plastic however, as the plastic could cause damage to the plant. Make sure that a cloth barrier is between the plastic and the plant.
Make sure to water before a freeze. This may sound like it will defeat the purpose since water freezes. However, wet soils prevent freeze injury to roots because moist soil holds more heat than dry soil.
Lastly, don’t forget to uncover your plants in the morning so that they can receive sun and air during the day.