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How to protect your precious plants from severe frosts

As winter sets in, frost can be a time of reckoning for gardeners. That’s when the plants that have adapted to your local climate will be fine (even if a bit unsightly as they will be dormant until spring), while the others will suffer, or even die. without protection because they are not cold tolerant. in your area.

Bushes wrapped in burlap are a common sight in winter across yards, but the question is: Do you really want to go through that effort year after year? For anything you plant permanently – all perennials, i.e. – you should only choose plants that are adapted to USDA factory tough zone. But that’s probably not what you want to hear when you’re wondering whether the beautiful apricot tree you planted in your front yard last spring will make it through the New England winter.

Plants that are suitable for your hardiness are generally unaffected by the frost and cold weather of winter. However, there are still exceptions. During a warm winter season, not uncommon with climate change, fruit trees such as apples, or flowering ornamental trees and shrubs that are normally perfectly adapted to cooler climates can be tricked out. bud too early. When the weather returns to more normal winter temperatures, fallen buds and flower buds that flower for the year will be lost. Since it’s impractical to wrap an entire tree or large bush in burlap, sometimes there’s nothing you can do to prevent this from happening.

The first step in protecting your plants from frost is figuring out which plants you really need to pay extra attention to when temperatures drop below freezing – and then figure out what you can do to protect them. they.

How to cover plants against frost

If you live in a cool climate, all frost-sensitive containers should be brought inside to warm up before the first strong fall frost. If you live in a warm climate with only occasional nighttime frosts, continue to monitor the weather forecast and prepare everything you need to protect your plants from frost (see below).

For larger plants, cardboard boxes such as those used to pack furniture or large appliances are ideal (and worth storing for this purpose if you have room). The cardboard box should be large enough for the entire plant to fit inside without breaking.

If you have a bunch of smaller pots, you can gather them under the patio table and create a “vegetal cave” by covering the table with old blankets and sheets on all sides. For a few small trees, a patio chair or bench turned upside down and covered with a blanket or sheeting provides similar frost protection.

The material you use to cover the plant should be breathable fabric or burlap, and should be removed the next morning so that the plant does not lack light. Plastic should not be used because it prevents air circulation and traps moisture, which is a breeding ground for plant diseases. In addition, if you do not remove the cap in time the next morning, and the sun shines on the resin, it can overheat the plant and scorch the leaves.

Even so, covering plants against frost can only be a temporary remedy. If daytime temperatures consistently drop below freezing, bring all frost-sensitive potted plants into pots.

The final hurdle for tomatoes

If you still have tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, or other frost-tolerant plants in your garden, you can secure them with a circular fence made of bubble wrap and secure with four stakes around the plants. Make sure to remove the plastic right away the next morning.

While this little trick will extend your gardening life a bit, the truth is that these frost-resistant annuals are at the end of their life anyway – and it’s time to let them go (don’t worry). forget to clean up and remove all dead plant material to prevent disease from spreading in your garden next year). If there are still a lot of unripe tomatoes or peppers on your plants, you should usually leave them ripening indoors.

Remember that some garden plants, such as broccoli and kale, are really frost tolerant, so you don’t have to worry about them.

Suck on your strawberries for the winter

A snowy winter wonderland is surprisingly the best thing that can happen to your yard because when cold-tolerant plants are buried under heavy snow, they are actually insulated against heat. cold again. It is when plants are exposed to cold winter winds that the heaviest damage occurs, even to plants that are completely hardy during the winter.

Strawberries are the most notorious for taking damage during the winter when there is no snow. That’s why I covered a thick layer of straw on top of our windy hill in northeastern Pennsylvania a few days ago. I will leave the straw until early spring when the strawberries start to grow again.

Time to dig

If you’ve had frost in your area, your gladiolus, chrysanthemums, and musk berries may have died back. That’s nothing to worry about since they just die on the ground; underground roots and tubers are still alive. However, they should be dug out and stored inside in a cool location for wintering before deep frosts and before the ground freezes.

https://www.salon.com/2022/01/15/how-to-protect-your-precious-plants-from-a-harsh-frost_partner/ How to protect your precious plants from severe frosts

Emma Bowman

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