As the seasons change, your own gardening practices must change as well. Depending on the time of year, different gardening challenges can arise. A common problem that every gardener must contend with is the potentially disastrous effects of a bad frost.
If you are an avid gardener like me, you have no doubt experienced the detrimental effects that frost can have on your garden. An unexpected cold snap in fall or early spring can spell instant disaster for your plants.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. I have created a guide for you to learn how to protect your plants from freezing. By keeping this information in mind, you should be able to prevent any freeze-related disaster.
Close-up photo of the gel. Freezing occurs when water vapor in the air freezes on a surface.
- 1 What is the gel?
- 2 How can I protect my plants from frost?
- 3 Keep track of the temperature
- 4 Discover the frost resistance of your plants
- 5 Bring your potted plants indoors
- 6 Cover your plants with the appropriate device
- 7 Keep the water flowing
- 8 Be sure to follow the sowing instructions for new seeds
What is the gel?
“Frost” is a thin layer of ice that forms when water vapor in the air reaches the freezing point and settles on a surface.
Frost is a very common occurrence, especially in cooler climates. Plant species that are local to these climates are generally strong enough to withstand frost. However, plants in warmer climates are at a much higher risk of dying if faced with an unexpected frost.
Frost is more common in early spring and late fall. In early spring, frost can be incredibly damaging to your new seedlings. In late fall, frost can potentially damage your sensitive perennials.
Frost can also damage sensitive bushes or trees that are not equipped to withstand the cold. As such, it’s important to prepare your garden for the coming frost of either season.
Frost forming on the leaves. While there are many frost resistant species, many other plants can be severely damaged by frost.
How can I protect my plants from frost?
Although frost can be devastating to your garden, there are several ways to prevent frost damage.
Keep track of the temperature
The probability of freezing depends on the outside temperature and the “dew point”. If you want to predict when it’ll be freezing, check your local weather forecast for temperature and freezing warnings. This will make it much easier to know when to prepare your plant protection. During seasons when there is a high likelihood of frost forming, I always make sure to check the weather daily to keep track of the risk. You can even download weather apps to receive alerts right on your phone.
Discover the frost resistance of your plants
One way to prevent frost damage in your garden is to determine which of your plants are vulnerable. Depending on the origin of the plant, it may already be frost resistant. This makes it easier to determine which of your plants need to be protected from frost. This way, you can provide proper protection to areas of your garden that are vulnerable.
If you live in a climate where frost is inevitable, you will need to research each of your plants so that you can prepare for it. Most garden and garden centers can provide you with information about the frost resistance of the plants you buy.
If you want to reduce the risk of frost damage in your garden, you can choose to fill your garden with frost-resistant flowers that grow in the fall.
Pansies are an example of a hardy, frost-resistant plant that are a great addition to any garden.
Bring your potted plants indoors
If you have outdoor plants in pots, it may be best to bring them in before the first frost warning in the fall. Be sure to keep track of the weather and do your best to bring your potted plants indoors as soon as the risk of frost arises.
In spring, do not take your plants out of pots until after the last frosts of the season. While sunny, warm weather might make you want to get your pots out early, be sure to wait until the frost warning is lifted.
If you want ideas on how you can help your plants thrive indoors, you can learn tips on how to take care of indoor plants.
Cover your plants with the appropriate device
If you have plants that are vulnerable to frost, you may want to consider investing in the proper equipment to protect them. You can protect your plants from freezing by creating a barrier between them and the open air. The trick is to extend your protection at night, as frost usually forms overnight. Then you can remove your blanket the next morning when the risk of frost has passed. There are many coverage options you can choose from, depending on what works best for you:
1. Plastic sheet
An example of the types of plastic sheeting you can use to protect your plants from freezing.
Placing a sheet of plastic over your flower bed is a good way to keep your plants insulated from the cold. Plastic sheets for garden insulation are readily available online, like the one pictured here. However, if you choose to use plastic sheeting, you should make sure to use sticks to support it. This is because plastic can potentially damage plants. You can anchor the plastic to the ground using stakes or garden staples.
2. Old sheets or thin blankets
If you want to avoid purchasing additional materials, you can recycle old sheets or blankets to create a protective layer for your plants. Material covers are also less likely to cause damage to plants than plastic sheets. These can also be held in place using dowels or gardening staples.
3. Burlap tarpaulins
Burlap is a great choice for protecting cold-sensitive plants, such as the rose bush pictured here.
Burlap sheeting is a great choice for protecting plants from frost. This sturdy material is sure to keep your plants warm. Burlap can also be wrapped around the trunks of young or smaller trees to protect them from frost. Burlap is also a great choice of protection for cold-sensitive bushes or shrubs.
4. Hard plastic containers
Hard plastic containers are a great choice for protecting your plants from freezing. In this photo, the gardener used conical plastic pots to protect his young plants from frost.
For small plants and shrubs, you can choose to use plastic containers as a cover. It’s a great choice if you want to recycle old materials in the house. You can convert old tubs or other containers (such as water jugs) into cover for plants.
Of course, you can also choose to buy them online or at garden stores, where they are usually readily available. You can anchor these containers to the ground with earth or stones.
Keep the water flowing
While it may seem counterintuitive, water is actually a good way to prevent frost damage. Keeping the soil moist around your plants actually prevents frost from forming. Frost is more likely to occur when your plants and the soil around them are cold and dry. By keeping your plants and the area around them moist, the risk of frost forming actually decreases. .
Be sure to follow the sowing instructions for new seeds
Nursery for young plants. Young plants are particularly vulnerable to frost and must therefore be properly protected against it.
When preparing to sow seeds in the spring, it is important that you take frost into consideration before you start planting. Many seeds require certain heat conditions to thrive and should not be planted until the specified time. In fact, it may be best to start the seeds indoors and only plant them outdoors once the risk subsides.
If you choose to sow the seeds outdoors earlier in the season, you may want to consider preparing a suitable frost cover to prevent damage. Seedlings are particularly vulnerable to frost. If you want to keep your garden healthy, be sure to use proper cold barriers.
Always cover vulnerable trees and shrubs
Group of small trees wrapped in burlap. The hessian barrier protects them from freezing. Their trunks and leaves are covered.
Your flowers and vegetables aren’t the only plants in your garden that need protection. While shrubs and trees native to your climate can usually withstand local frost, more sensitive varieties require proper coverage.
As mentioned earlier, burlap is a great material to use for wrapping the bark and branches of vulnerable trees and bushes. Plants like roses and citrus fruits are particularly vulnerable to frost and should therefore be protected accordingly.
If you want some additional advice on how to properly protect your garden from frost, you can watch this informative video that shows you where to start:
With these tips in mind, you should be able to adequately protect your garden from frost damage. While an unexpected freeze can sometimes be inevitable, you can almost completely eliminate the risk by being well prepared.