Jamie here! We’ve been having some weirdly coooold nights following a couple weeks of very warm Spring days, and it’s got me worried about my little plant babies.
My Nanny always said to never plant your garden till after Derby Day. My mail lady says she never plants hers until after Good Friday. It’s really dependant on where you live and what kind of crazy Spring you’re having – but this frost date chart is a good tool to give you an estimate of when it’s safe to plant.
Whenever you decide to plant your garden or set out your pretty planters full of Spring flowers – a late frost can easily sneak up on you and ruin all that hard work.
When temps dip even close to freezing, a light frost can develop on the leaves of plants. If they go much lower, the water-filled cells will freeze and the cell walls will burst, destroying the leaves.
For some tips on how to protect plants from freezing, or getting damaged, by a late frost – keep reading!
1. Pay attention to the weather report.
Whenever it’s looking like the temps will dip below 40, it’s a good idea to take action. The kind of action you take depends on what kind of plants need protecting. Cover plants that can’t be moved and move the ones you can.
2. Water thouroughly
Water is your friend before a freeze (although it seems counter-intuitive). Water the soil (not stem or leaves) of any plants that will be left outdoors to prevent drying out and insulate the soil.
3. Move portable plants inside
If you have portable plants (like my big hibiscus bush on the deck), bringing them inside the garage or house is an easy solution. Set them back out when it’s safe and the morning has thawed.
4. Cover up outside plants
If moving them isn’t ideal – you’ll want to cover them up to keep them cozy. I use pillow cases or towels to cover the potted flowers on our deck that are too messy to move around. If there are little seedlings peeking out from the ground, cover them gently with a layer of mulch or an overturned flower pot. Never cover a plant directly with plastic however, as it will damage the plant.
Make sure to uncover in the morning so they can bask in the sun again!
5. Covering larger areas
Bushes, trees and larger areas like whole gardens can be covered using old sheets, burlap, plant insulating fabric, etc…
If you have a raised bed garden – it’s pretty easy to cover with fabric or sheets or tarps. Check out how in this vegetable garden raised bed tutorial.
6. Protect from hail or freezing rain
While out walking in the neighborhood once, I saw that the little old lady down the street had a few umbrellas opened over her potted plants – which seemed adorable and totally practical for freezing rain, hail or scorching sun. Of course, overturned flower pots are useful here too 🙂
I hope that helps you get out there and defend your plants – please let us know what kinds of methods you’ve found successful for protecting plants from frost!
Check out more of our articles on Vegetable Garden tips and tricks!