The time of the frost is coming and your plants might be vulnerable. Even a single overnight frost to unprotected plants can cause severe damage to their roots, which could very well make it wither right then and there. Some plants are more susceptible than others, but in any case, you should always protect your garden!
Let’s go over every care you should take to save your plants and make sure your garden survives the winter frost!
“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. – Eleanor Roosevelt
Always check the forecast
Keep a good forecast app on your phone – some of them will let you set up alerts for certain weather conditions or temperature thresholds, so you never get caught off guard by a sudden night of frost.
When a frosty night is near, you have enough time to gather supplies and set up frost blankets and cold frames (along with taking other precautions we’ll talk about next).
Cover your plants before nightfall
In the event of a frosty night (which you should be able to see coming ahead of time with the previous tip), it’s time to cover your plants.
The best way is to place a few stakes around your plants and drape frost blankets over them, using the stakes to make it so the blanket itself doesn’t touch the plants (preferably). For taller plants you can try attaching the cover to something slightly above it, but if that’s not possible, simply drape it over the crown of the plant and wrap the trunk.
Remember to remove the covers in the morning though, so your plants can breathe!
If you don’t have any frost blankets handy, bed sheets or very light blankets can be used as an improvised frost blanket.
Invest in a cold frame
This is especially useful if you have moderate to frequent frost during winter in your region, or you find yourself wanting to grow plants that are notably less resilient in cold weather, such as potatoes, lettuce and other vegetables.
A cold frame works like a small greenhouse for your plants, trapping moisture and heat so that frost nights are much less of a hassle to go through – even if they’re somewhat frequent or for extended periods.
Cloches are like the smaller younger sibling of the cold frame. Usually they are small bell-shaped glass domes you place over small plants and seedlings. They have the same effect of a cold frame, retaining moisture and heat inside the dome and therefore protecting against frost. Curiously, they are also used for the exact opposite effect – protecting fragile plants from direct sunlight.
If you get caught without anything to work with, you can instead of plastic milk jugs as an improvised cloche. Simply cut one of the two sides (whichever one is easier to cut) and place it over your plant.
Potted plants are easy peasy
There’s absolutely no secret when it comes to potted plants, since you probably won’t need any of the previous tips – simply bring them inside. You can take them inside your garage or your home and they should be safe from frost!
Large potted plants can be protected just as easily, but there’s one bit of extra care to be had: it’s advisable to protect them from the wind. Take them to sheltered areas and even through a frost blanket over them for good measure.
Make good use of mulch
Mulch is incredibly helpful to protect roots and perennials. It can be purchased in garden supply stores in large quantities – when you have them, spread a thick 3 to 4 inch layer over your plants to completely cover them for the night.
You can also make your own mulch with leaves from your garden, but it does take some time.
Prune at the right time
After persistent frosty nights, despite your best efforts, you might notice brown foliage in your plants and might be tempted to prune it right away. Don’t do it just yet!
Turns out the damaged bits help protect the rest of your plant while they’re still there. If you prune them right away and another frost comes along, you plant could suffer even more. Leave the damage bit a little longer and prune once you know the risk of more frost is lowered.
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