What is the best way to protect plants from frost?

Answered by James Kissner

When it comes to protecting plants from frost, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. One of the most effective methods is to cover the plants with some sort of barrier. This can be done using sheets, towels, blankets, cardboard, or even a tarp. The idea is to create a protective layer between the plant and the freezing temperatures.

To cover the plants, simply drape the chosen material over them, making sure to completely cover the foliage and any exposed stems. It’s important to do this before it gets dark, as the trapped air underneath the cover will help keep the plants warmer throughout the night.

If you don’t have any sheets or blankets on hand, you can get creative with what you have. For instance, I’ve used inverted baskets or coolers with solid bottoms to cover smaller plants. This provides an extra layer of protection and helps prevent frost from settling on the leaves.

Another tip is to try and trap as much warm air as possible around the plants. This can be achieved by creating a makeshift greenhouse effect. One way to do this is by placing stakes around the plants and draping a clear plastic sheet or tarp over them. This helps to trap heat from the soil and create a warmer microclimate for the plants.

It’s important to note that covering plants will only provide protection from frost for a certain temperature threshold. Typically, covering plants can protect them from temperatures as low as 28°F for about five hours. Anything lower or longer than that and the plants may still be at risk of damage.

In addition to covering the plants, it’s also a good idea to water them thoroughly before a freeze. Moist soil retains heat better than dry soil, so watering the plants before the freeze can help protect their root systems from the cold.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that not all plants are equally frost-tolerant. Some are more sensitive to cold temperatures and may require extra care. If you have particularly delicate or tropical plants, it might be best to bring them indoors or into a greenhouse for the duration of the freeze.

Protecting plants from frost requires a combination of covering them with a barrier, trapping warm air, and watering them appropriately. By taking these steps, you can give your plants a fighting chance against the cold and minimize the risk of frost damage.