November 27, 2015
Frost is the result of freezing water within the plant cells. The freezing water damages the cell walls, and the internal structure within the plant also becomes damaged. If the ground is frozen, it is difficult for the root of the plant to obtain water, and the plant will eventually die. It is important to be aware that early frost can occur during September to late spring. If you fail to plan ahead, you may have to shuffle some plants around. The traditional ways of covering your plants with fleece or bringing potted plants indoors are some of the best methods to limiting the effects of frost.
Covering your plants is one of the most popular ways of safeguarding your plants against frost. When you cover your plants, you want to loosely draped them, and secure the drape with rocks, bricks, or stakes. Lighter covers can merely be placed on top of the plant, but you should use some type of support for heavier covers. This will prevent the plants from being crushed by the weight of the cover. Tender garden plants are likely to retain heat and protection from freezing once they are covered. It is also important to remove the covers once the sun is out, or the plants may die due to suffocation.
Mulch is a great way of protecting the root system of the plant, especially for those plants with shallow roots. Even though a snow cover usually provides a good amount of protection against frost, it is nearly impossible to predict when it may snow. Your best option would be to spread straw, wood chips, pine needles, shredded bark, chopped leaves, or any other organic material on top of the base of the plant. The mulch captures the moisture and heat within the soil and prevents it from escaping. Normally, the soil that is below the mulch will not freeze as much, and the plants can continue to take in water. Soil management prior to applying any mulch can also help prevent frost.
Add Water Prior to Freeze
Thoroughly water your plants prior to any potential freeze. Although it may sound weird to add water, the laws of thermodynamics have already proven that it is much more difficult to cool humid air than it is to cool dry air. It may also be beneficial to water your entire yard, the evening preceding the freeze. This will increase humidity within the immediate micro climate. It will also assist in minimizing any effects of frosts and the freezing of plants within your yard. A sprinkler irrigation system can also assist with accomplishing this task. However, sprinklers do not work when weather conditions are extreme.
You may also want to consider moving potted plants indoors and placing them near a window. An outdoor greenhouse is another option for minimizing the effects of frost. By covering your plants, adding mulch, and adding water prior to a freeze, you should be able to prevent frost to your plants.
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