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Protect your plants from freezing night time temperatures

March 28, 2022
Ken Burger

Protect your plants from freezing night time temperatures

It doesn’t seem fair that Mother Nature blesses us with a few 70 degree, sunny days that wake up our “sleeping beauty” flowering trees and shrubs and then sends us nighttime temperatures below freezing for two nights in a row.  These freezing temperatures can be very detrimental to Spring time flowering and fruit bearing trees and shrubs.  The newly formed buds that would be this seasons blossoms may get damaged by a hard frost and severely diminish crop production.  Ornamental trees that may be in full bloom or are just about to shoot out new leaves are also susceptible to a hard frost.  So how can we prevent or minimize the risk of damage; do the best you can by covering your flowering or fruiting plants before nightfall with light weight tarps, bed sheets, burlap, drop cloths, etc.  Install your fabric coverings in a tent fashion so that warmth from the ground will help keep temperatures warmer.  Plastic can be used as long as you prevent the plastic from coming into contact with the plant.

Smaller plants can also be covered with buckets, turned over pots, cardboard boxes or any other container type device.  Potted or hanging plants should be moved inside a garage or shed if possible.

It’s easy to forget about some of these plants in your landscape or garden that you may want to protect like the following: Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinth, Narcissus, Azaleas, Rhododendron, Hydrangea, Fruit trees, Japanese Maple, Roses, early blooming Perennials to name a few.  Don’t forget to uncover your plants once the threat of Frost is over.

Types of Frosts and Freezes and Their Effects
Temperature Type or Name Effects on Plants
Around 29–32°F Light Freeze/Light Frost Ice forms on the outside. Will likely only significantly harm or kill tender plants.
Around 25–29°F Moderate Freeze/Killing Frost Ice forms on the inside of the plant, which causes plant cells to burst. Will cause significant destruction to most foliage and vegetation. Fruit blossoms and semi-hardy plants will suffer extensive damage and potentially death. Even root-hardy perennials will be hurt.
Below 25°F Severe Freeze Will cause severe damage to most all plants, leading to desiccation and death.

 

Some information authored by Jill Spencer – “10 Easy Ways to Protect Plants From Frost”