Winter officially arrived a few short weeks ago, and even though most of East Texas has been experiencing a mild December, Old Man Winter will soon show his face, bringing in much colder temperatures. One thing to keep in mind as winter settles in is keeping your plants safe from freezing temperatures.
Just like humans, plants are susceptible to freezing temperatures. During a freeze, plants can be damaged, causing their leaves to wither or brown, or the plant itself to die. One of the best ways to keep plants safe from winter weather is to cover them. There are several factors to keep in mind when deciding whether to cover your plants, such as the hardiness of the plant, the location of the plant, and the temperature.
Plants should be covered when there is a chance of a frost or a severe freeze, so whenever the temperature is projected to dip below thirty-two degrees. Newly planted trees, especially fruit trees, and bushes will need to be covered or wrapped to avoid damage from winter temperatures. Other sensitive plants such as fruits, vegetables, tender perennials, such as begonias, tropical plants, and subtropical plants will need to be covered. Container plants are also particularly vulnerable to cold weather because their roots are not established in the ground. If possible, move container plants inside. If you decide to leave them outside, push them together and cover them. You can wrap the containers in burlap to keep them warm.
When you have determined which plants must be covered and when they should be covered, you can get creative in covering your plants. There’s no need to spend any extra money on plant coverings! You can use items often found around the house. Some options for covering plants include mulch, plastic or clay pots, cardboard boxes, drop-cloths, burlap, blankets, and sheets. Keep in mind that each covering material offers different advantages and disadvantages. Mulch offers a good way to keep the roots of shrubs protected. You can place a thick layer of pine straw, mulched leaves, straw, and/or soil around the bases of shrubs to keep them safe from winter weather. Blankets, sheets, and drop-cloths are great options for quick coverings of larger plants like rose bushes and small trees. However, they can get heavy with dew or rain, and might break the branches of the plant. To avoid this, you can use stakes or hoops to keep the material off of the plant. If there is a chance of heavy rain, you might opt for plastic, which is rain resistant and traps heat. If you can, opt for black plastic because it reflects sunlight and will not quickly damage plants in the daytime because it reflects sunlight. Try to avoid using clear plastic because it traps heat when the sun rises. One potential disadvantage of plastic is that contact with plant leaves could allow for freezing because there is no insulation. To avoid this, use stakes to keep the plastic above and around the plant, rather than in direct contact with it. With really cold temperatures, the more layers of cover, the better! For example, you might cover a very young or valuable plant with a blanket or sheet and then plastic. Ensure that whatever covering material you use extends all the way to the ground and is securely anchored. You can use stakes, bricks, or rocks to keep the covering secure.
To effectively prepare your plants for winter weather, make sure they have been watered well before the frost. The water serves as an extra layer of insulation for plant roots. Then cover the plants with your chosen material before sunset when the frost or freeze is expected and remove the cover the following morning when the temperature warms above freezing.
At Petty’s, we’ve been helping East Texans with their yards since the 1950s and we’ve seen a few winters since then. We can help you by designing (or redesigning) your landscaping to minimize the effects of winter weather. We know you want to keep your plants healthy and so do we! Contact us at 800-258-9184 or email@example.com today.