Frost can cause serious harm to your plants and garden. Some plants are hardier than others, but most plants struggle to survive even in light frost. If you anticipate colder days, consider how to protect your beautiful plants.
So, should you move plants indoors if it is freezing outside? What should I cover my plants with to protect them from frost? What time of day should I cover my plants from frost? Can adding a layer of mulch help protect plants from frost? Can adding a cloche protect plants from frost? Finally, does wetting plants ahead of time protect them from frost?
Keep reading to learn more about protecting your plants when the frost comes around.
Video on How to Protect Your Plants from Frost
Should You Move Plants Indoors If It Will Be Freezing?
If you have outdoor plants that you would like to continue to care for during the winter season, you should certainly bring them indoors before nighttime temperatures drop to 50 degrees. Some tender plants, like tropical plants, may need to be brought indoors sooner, depending on their cold tolerance.
It is also essential to watch the weather forecast as it is common to get frost, even in early spring. If you plant anything outside before the last frost date in early spring, bring it indoors if you know a frost may be coming through. Just one night in freezing temperatures could finish your beautiful plant.
It is important to do basic research on your plants to learn when to bring them indoors, as some may be more tolerant of colder temperatures than others.
What Should I Cover My Plants with To Protect Them from Frost?
In cases where plants in a garden cannot be brought indoors before a frost, there are ways to protect them from dying from the extreme cold.
To protect your garden plants, use a tarp, blanket, cardboard, burlap, bedsheet, or other material to cover them. Use bricks or stakes to anchor whatever material you use so the wind does not blow it away, and place a wooden stake in the center of your garden to hold up the cover and keep the material from touching your plants.
Of course, this method will not be effective when temperatures drop extremely low, around 28 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this is an excellent method to use in early spring when the last cold snap has yet to arrive.
What Time of Day Should I Cover My Plants from Frost?
The best time to cover your plants is late afternoon or early evening when the plants have had plenty of time to soak up the sun in the morning and after the winds have settled. Covering your garden plants in the late afternoon gives you the best chance of trapping the warmth necessary for them to survive the night.
Can Adding a Layer of Mulch Help Protect Plants from Frost?
Applying a layer of mulch might help block winter sunlight and icy winds for perennial plants that lie dormant in winter. Sometimes in winter, the sun can produce enough heat to melt ice and snow, inducing your perennial plants to sprout too early and fail to mature fully. A nice layer of mulch will help maintain a consistent temperature throughout the winter.
Can You Use a Cloche Protect Plants from Frost?
Another method for protecting plants from frost is using a cloche. “Cloche” is a French term that translates as “bell-shaped.” Cloches are designed to rest over plants, retain heat, and protect plants from insects and frost, much like a tarp or sheet. Essentially, a cloche is like a mini-greenhouse.
A cloche is a great tool if you only have a few plants instead of an entire garden bed. You can buy a cloche from any garden store or make a DIY cloche using recycled milk cartons or bottles.
To make your own, safely remove the bottom of a recycled milk jug with a knife and place it over your plant. Remove the lid on the top, so your plant has some ventilation and does not overheat.
Does Wetting Plants Protect Them from Frost?
One natural way to help protect your plants from frost is by watering them. Water behaves like an insulator, retaining more warmth for the plant and protecting it from the cold air. Moist soil has a greater chance of retaining heat than dry soil.
Consider wetting your plants with a spray bottle in early spring when the nights are still cooler. This method is ideal for temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, you risk ice collecting on your plants. It is also best to wet your plants earlier in the day so that your plant has time to absorb the water.
What Happens If You Don’t Protect Your Plants from Frost?
Your plants will likely die if you do not protect them from frost. While some hardy plants can withstand cold weather, most need warmth and protection. Weaker plants can die overnight in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for just five hours.
Particularly in the growing season, little sprouts and seedlings have a much more difficult time withstanding the cold.
Researching and learning about the plants you plan to grow in your garden and what temperatures they can withstand is important.
Conclusion: How to Protect Plants from Frost
Vulnerable plants have a difficult time withstanding frost and cold temperatures for a long, so it is important to take action and have a plan for frost protection. If your plants are potted individually or easily removed, move them indoors for the winter or when the forecast calls for a spring frost.
Cover plants that cannot be moved indoors with a tarp or sheet, or use a cloche for smaller plants. These methods create a greenhouse effect and trap enough warm air for your plants to withstand the cold. You can also wet your plants early in the day to allow them to absorb the water and retain warmth during freezing weather.
You can protect your annual plants over the winter by applying a layer of mulch on the soil to help block sunlight and maintain consistent temperatures so that new growth does not happen prematurely.