After many requests from concerned clients about the danger of frost, I thought it wise to write a bit more about frost and how to protect your plants this coming winter, especially with the cold fronts hitting us more frequently.
When the cold of winter hits us, we often run to our closets to find something warm to protect ourselves, often not remembering to also protect our sensitive plants in our gardens. It is only when we see dead leaves on our plants that we realise the winter cold was one ahead of us.
Do not remove dead leaves
Frost damaged plants use their dead leaves as a protective layer against the cold of winter, similar to a coat or jersey that we wear. These dead leaves are often too unsightly for many gardeners and out of ignorance, these protective leaves are removed. This will result in leaving the poor plant exposed to the elements of winter. As a tip of advice, I do suggest that these leaves are left on the plant throughout winter until the damaging frost has past in spring.
Select the right plant for your garden
As gardeners we often surround ourselves with plants from a wide spectrum of climatic areas and all too often we force plants to grow in colder areas than that they are used to be thriving in. As temperatures start dropping we need to take care of frost sensitive plants. Selecting the right plants for your garden according to their resistance to frost is a wise way of cutting down on the maintenance and care of the garden – thus saving time and energy.
David’s clever tips on how to protect your plants from frost
When we bring frost tender plants into our gardens and we live in an area that receives frost, we need to take precautions to ensure the safety and well being of all these delicate plants.
Keep frost tender plants away from the early morning sun. When an icy frost layer is present on the leaf surfaces of the plants and the sun shines through it – it will cause a burning effect on the leaves. When frost tender plants receives afternoon sun, this icy frost layer would have melted away by the time the sun’s rays hits the leaves.
The evergreen canopy of a tree or a patio roof can give plants protection against frost. Keep your frost tender plants mobile by planting them in pots and containers. During the summer months these plants can be positioned in areas of the garden where they can show off their beauty. When the threat of frost damage is near, these plants can be moved into more protective areas.
Frost tender plants can be covered with material to keep the frost off their leaves. Nurseries sell a white thin material that is relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Alternatively, Hessian can also be used. The secret behind the success of these covering “blanket” materials is that the plant will be able to breath air when covered and also allow some sunlight through for the plant to be able to photosynthesise. Very dense products like plastic sheeting will do more harm than good.
Plants can be hardened off towards frost over time as plants adapt to colder weather conditions. In the first cold season, plants need to be well protected but with each season that follows, plants can be more exposed and less protected to frost causing plants to be less prone to frost damage.
It is however advisable to select frost-hardy plants for your garden when living in in area that receives frost. For those of use who just can’t do without certain frost tender plants – we will have to go the extra mile in protecting them from the winter cold.