Protecting Your Frost-Tender Plants

For those of us who live in areas that experience relatively mild winters – we are fortunate to be able to grow semi-tropical and/or tropical plants such as Bougainvillea, Lantana and Yellow Bells outdoors.

However, those same frost-tender plants whose colorful blooms we enjoy during the warm months, often need extra protection when cold snaps hit in winter.

When temperatures dip between 32 and 24 degrees F, damage to the foliage and sometimes even to the roots can occur.

So what can you do to help protect your frost-tender plants?  Cover them during the cold hours of night.  During the day, the soil absorbs the heat from the sun.  By covering plants in the evening, the covering captures the heat the the soil re-radiates out into the night.

You may be wondering what type of coverings to use for your frost-tender plants.

Trailing Lantana protected from frost.

Well, you can do as I do and raid your linen closet for old towels, sheets and even blankets.  Of course, burlap and frost cloth purchased from your local nursery work great as well.

Cover your plants at night and remove them during the day when the temperatures rise above 32 degrees F, so that the soil can warm up again.

Other tips that can help in addition to covering your frost-tender plants is to water your plants before freezing temperatures.  This is because water releases heat during the night.  You can also string Christmas lights around plants, which provide some heat.  A single 100-watt bulb placed underneath the covering also adds extra protection, but take care that the bulb doesn’t touch the covering.

Succulents like some columnar cacti are susceptible to cold snaps.  The tips of these cacti are where frost-damage is usually seen.  You can easily protect them by putting styrofoam cups on top of each tip, which offers protection from frost damage.

One type covering the DOES NOT offer frost protection when in contact with the foliage of plants is plastic…

The areas where plastic touches the plant will suffer frost damage.  So in this case, the plastic does more harm then good.

By following these tips for protection your frost-tender plants from frost damage, you will soon be enjoying their colorful blooms once spring arrives.

Radiation Lantana

So, keep an eye out for your local weather forecast and get your plant coverings ready when temperatures are forecast to dip to 32 degrees F and below.  Which reminds me that cold weather is headed my way, so I had better cover my Lantana :-)

For more information on how to protect your plants from frost, check out this video from Birds & Blooms.

 

 

 

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