Protecting Plants from Cold and Frost
For gardeners, winter means time to slow down from the workload of a thriving garden in peak season. There’s less to harvest, less to maintain, and in very cold climates you can forget about planting all together. This being said, if you are trying to extend your season or perhaps protect sensitive plants from cold, there are many strategies to keep you in the garden just a little bit longer.
Consider the following tips to protect your plants from cold weather and frost. You usually want to begin protecting your plants when night time temperatures begin dropping below 5C.
Site and Plant Selection
The easiest way to protect plants from cold temperatures is to properly select plants for your region. Secondly, place them in an adequate location based on their sensitivity. Plants most sensitive to frost should be in the warmest most frost-protected part of your garden or property.
This usually means;+ Sunny locations with winter sun. This would be north facing locations in the southern hemisphere or south facing locations in the northern hemisphere.
+ Places protected from wind and exposure. This may be next to walls, below overhangs, and around large trees and vegetation. While there may be less sunlight in these locations, a canopy or roof cover helps prevent the loss of the radiant energy being released at night.
+ Examine the microclimates. The shape of the land, nearby plants, and the ability of your surroundings to hold heat can greatly affect temperatures. For instance, large rocks or bodies of water can soak up heat during the day and release it at night.
Other Tips to Protect Plants
+ Mulch heavily around trees, plants, and tubers. This helps act as a protective blanket that can keep the ground significantly warmer. Wood chips work great but also leaves, straw, sugar cane mulch and hay are great options.
+ Place frost cloths (a lightweight, breathable fabric designed to protect plants from frost, cold temperatures, and harsh weather conditions. It helps to create a microclimate around the plants by trapping heat and insulating them against sudden temperature drops during cold nights. Frost cloth, also known as horticultural fleece or floating row cover, can also protect plants from pests, insects, and harsh winds while still allowing sunlight, air, and moisture to pass through) on sensitive plants and trees. While some people use any old cloth or sheets, using specialised frost cloths is recommended. The breathability of these fabrics prevents the formation of dew (which can freeze) and prevents anoxic conditions.
+ Many of these allow light to penetrate and can be left on during the day to mimic a greenhouse like environment.
+ Move plants away from the wind and exposed areas. Wind chill can exponentially increase damage caused by cold weather. Next to walls and other protected nooks work great. This is obviously easier with potted plants, but if your plant won’t survive the winter anyway don’t be afraid to dig them up and move them (remember to always dig only the minimum required amount so as to not disturb your soil too much).
+ Potted plants can be bunched together and containers wrapped in burlap or other insulated fabric. This helps prevent the soil from getting too cold and freezing. Remember that potted plants are more sensitive to cold temperatures because the soil is exposed and more likely to freeze.
+ Bring plants inside. This obviously is not an option for all your plants, but it can be nice for your most prized ones. Near windows or other sunny locations is ideal for any plants with foliage. Plants in dormancy can be stored in cellars, basements, or wherever you have extra room.
+ Healthy plants are more frost tolerant. Ensure you provide your plants with adequate nutrition and care during the growing season to make sure they can better handle the winter.
Did you know that CropBioLife Activator and its ability to increase the metabolic function of your plants plays a huge role in improving your plant's frost resilience?