Protect Your Plants from Frost
Frost vs. freeze and when to cover your plants
By Grace Sovine
After weeks of unpredictable weather, things are finally starting to cool down as we settle into December. With snow and frost already in the books this winter, it’s time to start taking stock of your garden to be sure they can survive the chill.
You may be wondering how cold is too cold for your plants? The temperature at which plants freeze can vary, so there’s no hard and fast rule. Plants have designated hardiness levels, which helps identify the lowest temperature the plant can withstand before suffering from negative results.
Tropical plants and frost-tender plants cannot survive freezing temperatures, which is why they flourish in warmer climates. Fully hardy perennials, shrubs and trees, however, go dormant in the colder months, allowing them to survive the freezing temperatures and bloom again come spring. Not sure where your plants fall? Make sure you do your research before prepping your garden for a frost.
Once you know your plant’s hardiness level, consult this table to know when you need to take extra steps:
|Temperature||Type (Frost or Freeze?)||Effects on Plants|
|28 degrees Fahrenheit for a few hours||Light frost, light freeze||Usually harms tender plants. Ice forms on the outside of the plant.|
|25-28 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours||Hard frost, killing frost, moderate freeze||Damages foliage and blossoms. Ice forms within the plant, causing plant cells to burst. Will kill back root-hardy perennials and damage crops.|
|Below 25 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours||Severe freeze||Causes damage to many plants, usually through desiccation (drying).|
So, you know the hardiness of your plants and you know what type of frost or freeze you’re expecting – how do you protect your plants? There are several things you can do to keep your plants safe from the cold:
Keeping your garden safe from frost damages is quick and easy. The best way to maintain a thriving garden is to plan ahead and practice prevention – plant weather hardy plants meant for your climate in your garden. If you’d like to plant tender plants, use containers that can be easily brought inside during the colder months.
Don’t forget to bundle yourself up this winter, too!
1051-A Cannons Court,
Woodbridge, VA 22191
Proud members of the Woodbridge Business Exchange