“Hey! It’s snowing outside and everything is covered with a sparkling and white coating of frost. It is such a beautiful feast for the eyes!” I thought, while peeping outside my office window. Immediately, the smile faded away when I thought about my plants, back home.
It’s winter again and I should know how to protect plants from frost, to prevent them from being damaged due to the hard frost. In this article, I have tried to tell my readers about some tricks that I follow, during winters, to save my plants from the harsh consequences of the cold.
Frost damages your plants in various aspects. The plants become blackened, growth becomes stunted and the shapes of the plants get distorted. In some plants, the leaves become translucent. Even tough and evergreen plants are affected by frost. They turn brown in color.
The reason for the damage to the plants in chilly, frosty winters is that the soil becomes frozen and the roots are unable to take up water. Thus, there is a severe lack of moisture with prolonged times and the plant gets damaged or dies. The damage due to overnight frost gets worsened, if the plants are exposed to the morning sun. It causes quick defrost in plants. Hence, their cell walls rupture.
In this modern lifestyle, we cannot afford to spend too much of our time in protecting these plants. At the same time, we love them. We have taken time from our busy schedules and nurtured them, till now. So letting them be damaged is a big NO. Then let us not panic this winter and protect our green babies from the frost, by taking proper precautions.
Tips to minimise damage of frost
– Let’s not rush only after observing any harm that is already done to our plants. Let’s take some initial precautions to minimise the damage:
– Avoid plant varieties that are tender, like variegated or golden varieties of plants.
– Select plants that are more tolerant towards the frost.
– Do not add fertilisers with high nitrogen contents. They cause sappy and leafy growth in plants, which make them more prone to damage.
– Tender plants should be placed under large trees, shrubs or against walls. These give them more heat and warmth during the cold and frosty seasons.
– Do not place plants with tender shoots or tender flowers, in east-facing directions.
– Do not prune the old growth of tender plants, in winter. This will act as a protection to the central crown, as they can bear very intense weather conditions.
– Frost and cold air migrate to the lowest level in gardens. So do not place tender plants in such spaces.
Tips to protect plants from frost
Bring potted plants indoor:
– The best solution is to move away your plants from low temperature areas. Bring all your potted plants and even the hanging ones, inside your home. If possible, use them to decorate the interior of your home. This way they’ll get some heat and you won’t have to struggle much with the space. If that is not a viable option, then place those plants in your garage or sun room.
– Do not place your potted plants near any vents in your rooms. They will dry out soon and may even die.
– You can place plants near windows, as per their sun requirements. Remember those school lessons- east and west receive more light, while north and south get less light. Also, do not place the plants very close to the windows, if the temperature is extremely low, outside.
– Mulch has insulating properties. It holds heat and moisture in the soil. In extremely cold weather, it protects the root system of the plants. Freeze cycle, frost and cold soil do not allow the plants to draw water from the soil. So applying a layer of 2-3 inches of mulch will save your plants, in an effective way.
– Mulch of wheat or pine straw is very useful. It traps the heat very well. You can remove this mulch very easily when the temperature becomes amicable for plants.
Covering the plants:
– The most popular way to protect plants from frost is to cover the plants. You can cover them with old blankets, bed-sheets or burlap sacks.
– If your covers are lighter, you can simply drape them over your plants. But for heavier covers, use some supports like wires or poles, so that the plants don’t get crushed under the weight of covers.
– It is advisable that you cover the plants in the evening, to trap the heat and protect plants from frost. However, remove the cover in the morning, right after sunrise.
Watering the plants:
– Water your plants before one or two days, when you are anticipating a frost. Do not saturate the soil with water, just make it wet enough for two days. Wet soil is proved to trap heat more efficiently.
– The most advisable time to water plants is in the evening, before the temperature drops.
Create Raised beds:
– Create raised beds for your plants. Cold air always accumulates in the sunken areas. So raised beds will save the plants from the effects of harsh cold.
– Raised beds will also make covering of plants more convenient.
– Some plants require over-wintering like strawberries and roses. So you can make cold frames for such plants.
– They are easily available at garden centers or you can also build them at home.
Supply a heat source:
– If you feel that the temperature is extremely cold and it may damage your plants, even after taking all precautions, then you can give a heat source to your plants.
– You can make a small Green house to cover your plants and then place a 100 watt bulb inside. This will provide sufficient heat. Moreover, this much heat will not burn your plants.
Do not use Plastic to cover:
– Plastic is very thin and does not provide proper insulation to plants.
– In fact, the plastic that touches the plants can cause more damage than no insulation at all, because it will hold moisture against the tissues of the plants.
– You can use plastic to cover the rows or you can cover the ground around the plants, directly with plastic.
I hope these easy and simple steps to protect plants from frost will be useful and handy to you. If you have any suggestions or tips, in context to this article, do write to us.