How to protect your plants from frost

Are you wondering how to protect your plants from frost? We are making Cincinnati gardening simple with these plant-saving tips:

What plants do you need to protect from frost?

If you have already planted tender annuals, tropical plants, vegetables, herbs, etc., they can be severely damaged or killed by frosts or freeze. Also, hardy perennials and nursery plants that may have very tender foliage from recently being inside a greenhouse can suffer from frost and freeze.

What about more established hardy plants in the landscape?

In general, hardy plants planted last fall are less susceptible to cold temperatures. However, they can still suffer damage to early spring new growth. Particularly those plants that are already in flower.

What can you do to protect plants from frost and freeze?

If plants are in pots and portable, relocate them to a garage or shed until the cold passes.

If plants are not portable, do the following to protect them:

  • Cover the plants with beds sheets, light drop cloths or blankets, row covers (frost blankets), burlap, cheesecloth, etc.
  • Drape the covering over the plants like an umbrella. Anchor the edges down to capture heat from the soil and hold it around the plants, and to some extent, keep frost from settling on the foliage.
  • Water the soil thoroughly (except around succulents) to help hold heat at the soil level.
  • You can place a few stakes in the ground for fragile plants to help hold the material off the plants.

What other materials work?

DO NOT USE PLASTIC unless you can form a structure to keep the plastic from touching the plant’s foliage. Tomato cages covered with plastic trash bags. Cardboard boxes, empty upside-down tubs, pots, etc. Milk jugs (bottom cut out and lid off) over small vegetable / annual plants helps create a mini greenhouse.

How long should I leave my plants covered during cold temperatures?

You should cover plants until temperatures are back into the upper 40’s to 50’s. If it looks like a couple of days of cold temps, leave the coverings on for a couple of days.

What time of day should I cover my plants?

The ideal time is as early as possible and before nightfall.

What if I forget or get surprised by overnight frost?

Sometimes, early morning before the sun hits the plant, you can hose off tender foliage, and it can minimize or eliminate light frost damage.

When in doubt, cover your plants. It is better to be safe than sorry.

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