Cold Weather Plant Protection

 

Our first frost has hit and freezing night temperatures will soon be consistent. Don’t be blindsided when the hard frosts become the norm of the season. Instead, be prepared, do a little planning and read these tips on how to give your valuable plants some winter protection.

Tips for protecting plants:

Cover sensitive plants to try and prevent frost damage to leaves and developing buds. Lightweight fabric materials are best, such as floating row cover materials like REEMAY. An old bed sheet can work too. Secure cloths so windy conditions will not blow it off. Be mindful when using a tarp or plastic sheet to cover plants as the weight may crush weaker plants and plastic may freeze to leaf surfaces. If using these heavier covers, place stakes around the plant to help raise the plastic off the plant, and keep your cover from whipping about in the wind and causing damage. Remove the coverings as soon as possible once temperatures have raised.

When a plant is well-hydrated, it becomes more resilient to stress. Watering your plants BEFORE the cold hits can help the plant deal with freezing temperatures that will pull moisture out of the foliage.

Cover low-growing plants with mulch, such as lightweight compost, straw, or bark mulch. This is a convenient trick for short cold periods as you can quickly remove the mulch once there is no more danger of frost.

Bring potted plants to more protected locations, such as the garage or under the eaves of the house. Cover the pots with mulch or soil for additional insulation – even relatively hardy plants have roots that are more sensitive to cold than the tops.

In the vegetable garden most winter and overwintering crops are hardy enough, but a few need protecting.

– Leaf crops such as spinach and lettuce benefit from covers all winter long
– Winter and overwinter cauliflower varieties are much less hardy than other cole crops, and should be at least covered during cold snaps
– Artichokes should be well mulched


Plants with thick, succulent broad-leaf evergreen foliage are most susceptible to damage.  Flowering plants that mature their flower buds over the winter, such as rhododendrons, can also take damage to the flowers during severe cold events, even if the foliage is hardy.  New, young plants are also more tender; provide protection with a mulch and lightweight row cover material, or use heavier material as a windbreak to reduce dehydration

Here is a partial list of plants that are worth giving some protection:

Camellias
Star Jasmine Vine
Sarcococca, Fragrant Sweetbox
Bay Laurel (Sweet Bay)
Pieris
Winter Daphne
Phormium, New Zealand Flax
Edgeworthia
Some Salvia, Hyssop
Aralia
Skimmia
Rosemary
Lavender
Hardy Fuchsias