October 23, 2013

How to Cover Plants for Frost Protection

Protect your Cleveland plants from frost

In the Cleveland area where a late spring frost, an early fall hard frost or any number of unpredictable weather patterns that we have come to know and love can threaten our potted flowers and landscaping plants.

Even when the weather is unpredictable you can protect your cleveland landscaping plants and flowers from frost if you have a little time to prepare—and have an awareness or notification of the pending chilly weather.

Soft woods, actively blooming plants, and potted plants are the most susceptible to frost damage. The greatest threat of frost usually occurs overnight when the temperature drops enough to freeze the moisture on plant leaves and buds. The visible signs of frost damage usually occur within two to three days and include browned and mushy leaves and buds.

To protect your new plants, trees and flowers from frost and freezing weather, you will need to cover them or if able bring them into the house or garage to keep them from freezing. For your potted plants and potted color arrangements simply bring them inside until the freezing weather has subsided.

Plastic can be used to protect plants from frost, but it’s not the best or most effective material. The horticultural experts here at Green Impressions Landscaping actually recommend against it. Plastic materials including vinyl and the typical camping tarps do not breathe, causing moisture to get trapped inside. The plastic depending upon its thickness can also actually stick to the leaves and when the material is removed in the morning thinking you will see your beautiful plants in tact they will instead be stuck to the plastic shetting.

In addition if the temperature decreases enough, the increased moisture trapped underneath the non-breathing plastic presents a greater threat to the plants health and further increases its likelihood of an early demise. We recommend to our landscaping maintenance clients, especially those along the lakeshore in Avon, Avon Lake, Lorain, Bay Village, Lakewood, and Sheffield Ohio for example where the humidity from the lake is greater to use fabrics made from natural materials like a cotton or linen towel and or blanket, an opened burlap bag, or even newspaper, as a covering to protect plants from frost.

The natural fabric will allow moisture to escape but will still protect your potted plants and landscaping flowers from the inclement weather by preventing the freezing air directly contacting the moisture not only under the fabric but of the landscaping plants themselves. Bed sheets work well for covering large plants and shrubs, as well as young sprouts. Newspaper can be used on low-growing foliage, but won’t stay on top of larger plants well.

There are of course coverings that can be purchased especially for the purpose of protecting your plants from frost and freezing weather conditions. They may be more attractive than the quck impromptu methods mentioned above, but all work well to protect your landscape flowers from frost. If your efforts to protect plants from frost fail, you will have to allow nature to take its course.

Typically, the more established a plant is, the better it will fare if you are unable to protect your potted plants and flowers. If you have vulnerable plants such as ones that were recently planted and that would be expensive to replace, it’s best to try to protect them.

As the temperature decreases, the moisture in the air condenses into dew, which then freezes when the temperature reaches 32 degrees F. on the plant surfaces. At 32 degrees, damage to most plants may be minimal and only affect a small amount of leaves. However, if the temperature drops far enough for the plant cells to freeze, non-hardy plants will die.

Frost can occur even in summer time and other unlikely frost times of the year here in Cleveland. So it is especially important to pay attention to the local weather warnings of “a chance of frost,” or freezing conditions and take precautions to protect your backyard garden or potted plants. You may be able to extend the beauty and growing season of your flowers and landscape plants by a weeks to even a couple months if you are able to protect them through a single early frost!


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