Too many gardeners drape bed sheets over their plants and then have to uncover them. Later, they have to wash them…just because the temperatures may go below freezing. Are you one?
Stop! Neither cotton nor plastic sheets provide insulation and both can cause more harm than good.
Let’s make this year the year to protect your plants in an orderly, prepared and efficient manner. Here are several ways…
- Water your plants thoroughly. Yes, it may seem odd, but well-watered plants and moist soil retain warmth better than dry. There is a thermodynamic explanation of why, but trust us, a coating of water on the leaves protects the plant. That’s why orchards spray their trees during a frost.
- Cover sensitive plants and containers with frost protection sheeting. These products are available in drawstring “bags” and large sheets. You don’t have to remove it each day as it allows light and moisture to pass through. Be sure to drape to the ground. At the end of the frost, simply fold up for future use. (Other uses include as sunshades for tender seedlings and transplants and protection from pests, rain and wind.)
- Because potted plants have a smaller soil ball, root vulnerability is increased. Gather mobile pots together and put under a house eave. Increase protection by placing under a large window or against south or west facing walls. Cover with frost protection sheeting.
- Consider stringing Christmas lights around shrubs too large to cover or containers too large to move or if the freeze is expected to be severe. The bulbs provide warmth, especially if under other frost protection.
Spray with an anti-transpirant such as Wilt Stop. This product protects against moisture loss due to winds and low temperatures by providing 2-3⁰F of protection.