Protecting Your Spring Garden From Frost
Picture this. It’s early spring and you’ve just planted your new garden, or perhaps you’re seeing your perennial shoots starting to thrive, then along comes the threat of a frost or freezing weather.
This is one of the biggest worries for the gardener; threats that can harm or kill your plants. When temperatures near freezing, a few degrees can make a big difference.
Types of Freezing
There are a few meteorological terms that you need to know to make sure you are ready to take care of your plants.
“Light Frost” or “Light Freeze”
This is when a temperature drops down to 28°F for a couple of hours. Usually this type of frost only harms very tender plants. Ice will form on the outside of the plant. Some say that lightly spraying the plants with water early in the morning – after the frost – will help alleviate any damage at this point.
“Hard Frost – Killing Frost – Moderate Freeze”
This is when the temperature drops down to 25° to 28°F for several hours. Usually this type of frost damages foliage and blossoms because ice forms inside the plant, causing plant cells to burst. It will kill back root-hardy perennials and damage crops. Most crops and plants can recover from brief dips below freezing, but when the temperature reaches 28° F, it begins to cause extensive cellular damage and crop loss.
A severe freeze is when temperatures drop below 25°F for several hours. This type of frost causes damage to many plants.
How to Protect your plants
If the frost or freeze is predicted in your area, these are some steps you may want to take to protect plants which are vulnerable or tender:
- Bring your planter containers inside during the cold snap
- The morning before a freeze is expected, water your plants well. This water will act as a reservoir of heat that you can trap. Water will also help to protect the roots and then give them a better chance of regenerating after the freeze.
- For a short cold snap, you can cover plants in a layer of mulch, straw, or leaves to hold in the warmth.
- Use an inverted bucket (a Koopman bucket of course!) or an inverted pot, a paper bag slipped over an individual plant, cheese cloth or paper pegged down to cover the plant.
- To cover larger plants or one large garden bed, use fabric, burlap, or bed sheets as protection and ground insulation (avoid using plastic as it can stick and rip the plant). When you cover the plants one thing is absolutely necessary; bring the cover to the ground all of the way around the plant. Remember, you are trapping the heat in the ground.
In the morning, when the temperature rises above freezing, remove any coverings that you have put over you plants so that they can enjoy the sun.
Help! My Plants Froze!
When your plants are exposed to temperatures lower than what they are comfortable with, you may get the chance to bring them back.
Taking the Plants Inside
If you can, take your plants inside and prune away the damage. Gingerly handle the plant when doing this to avoid causing more damage. Place the plant in an area where it can receive enough sunlight, and make sure that it stays warm at night. Once it warms up outside place it back outside.
Leaving the Plants Outside
If you can’t take the plants inside, don’t prune away the damaged leaves. If another cold snap should hit, the damage leaves can actually provide a bit of protection for your plant. Once the weather warms up and frost is no longer a concern, trim away and dead or stems. Stems that are dead should be trimmed away completely, but living stems with dead leaves should only be trimmed back as fas as the damage has reached.
If you suspect freezing weather is coming, make sure you protect those plants! If you have anymore questions about this or other plant questions, reach out to us online at Koopmanlumber.com! Thanks for reading!