Before a freeze, I take three precautions to safeguard my plants.
Several U.S. S. is approaching freeze season, and by freeze I mean a deep freeze, which can completely change your garden—I'm not talking about a light frost in the morning. Ideally, everyone would plant native plants that are acclimated to...
Several U.S. S. is approaching freeze season, and by freeze I mean a deep freeze, which can completely change your garden—I'm not talking about a light frost in the morning. Ideally, everyone would plant native plants that are acclimated to the climate where they live, but that isn't always possible. Because we are picky about plants, we frequently put them through stress tests in order to get the landscaping we desire (hence the orchids we have growing in our bathrooms). Keeping an eye on weather alerts will be necessary as it will require additional work to assist those plants during a freeze or heat dome.
Thanks to my wide network of gardening clubs, I almost never get caught off guard by a frost or freeze. Question marks and alerts will appear on the message boards. However, the unexpected snowfall in May 2022, when I awoke to a blanket of snow after tenderly setting eight flats of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants—which I had been growing for months—outside for the first time overnight, haunts me. I stood by the door, hoping that I was seeing things, and rubbing my eyes like a cartoon. I now receive notifications directly on my phone. Knowledge is a powerful tool.
Here are the three additional things I do the evening before a freeze.
Water before the freezing point, despite the apparent contradiction.
Before a freeze, if the weather is dry and you have already bled your sprinkler or drip system, use a hose to moisten the roots of your plants. Yes, it does seem strange. However, the water will insulate the roots and provide sufficient insulation for the plant's cell walls to shield them from the cold. Additionally, it strengthens the plants' capacity to absorb solar heat, no matter how little of it there is. Better still, the evaporating water produces humidity, which is a better heat-retaining medium than dry air. A critical factor in this situation is watering quantity, as excessive use can also be harmful. Not drenched wet soil is what you want, just moist soil.
Use old holiday lights to give them a little warmth.
Incandescent light bulbs produced heat prior to the widespread use of LED holiday lights. That works well for providing plants with a little extra heat, but not so well for lights that are fixed to the house. Using these lights the night before a freeze is a long-standing gardening tip for plants that require a little extra attention. They also do an amazing job of preventing frost in hummingbird feeders. As most people have switched to much more efficient light strings, the best part is that they are usually free, though you could buy some if you really had to.
When tucking in your plants, use the appropriate type of blanket.
Because we are human, we like to bundle up in the cold. Though your plants have distinct needs, it makes sense to consider doing the same for them. One consequence of dry soil and strong winds is winter burn. As I mentioned, watering helps. However, it's crucial to use the proper kind of material if you plan to shroud your plants. Burlap or similar materials allow the plants to breathe, which is ideal. Plastic will trap heat and keep moisture against the leaves, so you should never use it. It is true that you want heat, but you also want it to be able to escape.
Furthermore, you don't have to be overly cautious. While established plants probably don't require assistance, young trees and shrubs may. Significantly, trees with flowers such as azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons require protection from extremely cold temperatures only.
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