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Master Gardener Kristine Hanson shows you how to protect your plants from the dangers of frost.
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How to Protect Your Plants From Frost
Chris Burrous: Everyone’s a farmer when it comes to their own backyard, try these tips for doing it Home Grown.
Kristine Hanson: It’s big, it’s brutal and it has the potential of killing everything in your backyard in one failed swoop. Well, what is it? Its frost and it’s inevitable, but I’ve got some tried and true tips on how you can prevent frost from killing all of your plants.
Kristine Hanson: Let’s start with the basics. First of all, you need one of these. It’s a thermometer; don’t trust radio and television reports, you need to know the temperature in your own backyard. Check it out before you go to bed, if it’s clear, cold, no wind, the temperatures are in the 30’s, you may need some frost protection for sensitive plants.
Kristine Hanson: Even though we have mild winters here in California, frost can injure sensitive plants like basil, geraniums, fuchsias and even citrus. When it gets really cold frost turns the water inside you plant leaf to ice. That ice then expands and breaks apart plant cells, no more moisture moves up and down these plant cells and the leaves die. So, what can we do about it?
Kristine Hanson: These are a few items to have on hand before frost strikes. I love burlap sacks. As you can see, I’ve just opened one up and slipped it over a smaller citrus tree. If you have larger citrus trees in the yard and temperatures are starting to drop, pound in some stakes around the citrus tree and drape the burlap bag over the tree just like this. You can also use this roll out burlap netting. All of this works by trapping the heat that comes up during the day and will keep your plants a little higher than those frost temperatures.
Kristine Hanson: You can also use sheeting; I normally don’t like it because it can freeze to a leaf. But what a great idea to reuse these tomato cages once tomato season is done over sensitive plants like this hibiscus, you can just drape this over the top of this and as you can see the sheet doesn’t touch the leaves.
Kristine Hanson: Now potted plants, the pots get very cold like cemented terracotta pots. So, bubbly wrap have this on hand and you can just wrap the bubble wrap which has air pockets that can pack packages but it can also keep your pot, and your roots and the soil warmer. And just drape it over just the base of the plant. This works great.
Kristine Hanson: As far as smaller plants are concerned, if you’ve got some cardboard boxes, keep those handy they can be folded flat and put together and put over something like this geranium. Now if you don’t want your garden to look like the local garage sale, you might want to use one of these insulating blankets that are for sale in garden shops or there is a cloud cover that is also misted on the plant and that will protect the plant by keeping the moisture in and keeping the frost out.
Kristine Hanson: Well two of my favorite tips, always use roll around under potted plants. I use these all season long, they’re great in the extreme summer heat, you can move your plant in undercover if it gets too hot and if it gets too cold of course you can move them undercover and that will keep them warmer during the real cold winter months. There are different ones you can use; either wood or metal and a lot of these are just at your local nursery. And then one other last tip, pick up these at the dollar store. They’re just umbrellas, you can use them but you can also use them for your plant, this is covering a succulent. When it gets really cold it will protect your plant from freezing and it looks kind of nice in the garden too.
Kristine Hanson: Make sure to move frost protection blankets once the sun comes out. Your plants will love the natural warmth from the winter sun. So being prepared now for frost will help your plants get ready when that really cold weather hits.