Frost and Care Tips
Keeping your plants healthy and beautiful
Get Ready for Jack Frost!
December, January and February are usually our coldest months and we never know how much cold weather we will have during any winter period. Many of our plants can be quite marginally hardy and susceptible to frost. Your garden will have many micro-climates and some areas will get much colder than others. Here are some tips on how to plan and plant so that your most tender plants won’t be in the coldest areas of your garden…
The most likely night for frost and freezing is when it’s clear, calm and the afternoon temperature falls rapidly. Clouds tend to trap in heat and keep the temperature up a bit. With the lack of wind, cold air will drop because it is heavier than warm air. This also means that the lower spots in your garden, out of the wind will be colder because the cold air will gather there. Dry air, with no mist or humidity, also tends to be colder, Water, even frozen water, tends to give off some heat and that is why you need to keep your potted plants and garden watered if there is a threat of frost or very cold weather. Buildings and trees also tend to hold heat and plants near them will be a bit warmer. Although it seems like mulch would be good because it holds in moisture, it can be damaging because, especially with any light colored mulch, it reflects light and does not let the soil warm up.
It helps to know your plants and their susceptibility to frost, but in general, these rules apply:
• new, young growth will be very frost tender
• dark leaves are most frost tolerant
• furry leaved plants tend to hold in heat
• plants that are compact and close together will also hold in heat from the day
You can help protect your plants by spraying them with a product like “Cloud Cover” that coats their leaves and helps prevent too much evaporation and dehydration. You can also put small decorative lights on shrubs or vines that are particularly vulnerable and turn them on nights that you think frost might be coming. You can cover plants with a frost blanket but be sure that the covers do not touch the leaves and that you take them off in the morning so that they do not get ‘burned’ the next day!
If your plants to get bitten by a cold period, do not cut them back. Just leave them until well into spring. The damaged plant material will protect the rest of the plant from future frosts. It is amazing how many will eventually recover, particularly shrubs and large perennials.