Protecting your most precious plants from winter’s wrath
AUGUSTA, Ga. - While the weather outside is frightful, don’t let the arctic blast damage your beloved plants. It’s better to be prepared than to panic.
The experts at nurseries in the state say some plants will need to be covered.
“Tropical materials like philodendrons, ginger lilies, some of your perennial stock ... things like that, is not cold-tolerant. You can throw bedsheets over it, but that only protects from frost,” said Georgia nursery worker Matthew Wise. “Plastic works the best.”
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With plastic, it needs to come off as soon as the sun comes out. He says whatever you use, it needs to go all the way to the ground and closed in to retain any ground heat and not let wind inside.
He says extra straw under plants can also help. As far as small potted plants, he recommends taking them inside, even if it’s the garage, where you can close them off from the cold and wind.
You should also keep them watered but don’t let water freeze on them.
Mark Crawford, owner of Loch Laurel Nursery, is encouraging everyone to cover their plants. If there’s any fruit growing right now, go ahead a pick it. He says it won’t make it through this cold front.
“Generally, for annual plants, 32 degrees will kill them. But for the citrus and the woody plants that are a little more sensitive, particularly citrus, 25 degrees or below 25 is where you really need to worry,” he said.
Crawford says he recommends that people cover their plants with frost cloth and possibly add a light bulb, if possible. He says frost cloth is very light and won’t crush the plants.
“They can protect their plants by either covering them, and I always recommend using blankets instead of plastic. Because plastic really does not retain any heat. It needs to go all the way to the ground because what you’re trying to do is trap the heat of the soil underneath this tent you’ve made around the tree,” Crawford said.
People often don’t forget about themselves, their pets, or letting their faucets drip a little during extremely cold weather. But sometimes, they do forget about their plants. Something Crawford says people may regret after this long extremely cold weekend.
“But it’s also the duration of the cold that’s important. More than four to six hours is really not good. It’s where we’re going to have some damage. And so, this Saturday we’re really looking at some real problems with it being cold for so many hours,” Crawford said.
For tips on how to protect your plants in the winter, Gardening Know How also provided some tips that will prevent frozen roots, foliar damage, winter scald and even death.
- Mulching is one of the easiest ways to protect your plants. Layer around them out to the drip line. Leave a half-inch space around the plant’s stem to allow air circulation and prevent rot.
- Apply an anti-desiccant to new foliage on bushes and shrubs that will shield the foliage from wind and winter sun.
- Bring your potted plants inside the home.
- Water the soil; wet soil prevents freezing because moist soil holds more heat.
- Use blankets or large towels to drape over your plants. If dealing with wind use bricks to anchor the fabric over the plants.
- Use a cloche, also known as a mini greenhouse, around your single tender plants.
- If you have water features, remove the pumps, don’t let the pump freeze. For the ceramic water features drain the water and take them indoors.
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