Tips to keep plants protected from weekend cold snap

Flowers, plants and gardens throughout the Greater Cincinnati area are at risk due to a cold snap this weekend.

Low temperatures Saturday morning will start in the upper teens and low 20s. This is a hard freeze and will likely damage or kill anything that has bloomed already from our record February warmth.

According to the writers behind The Garden Helper website, there are a few ways to help keep flowers and plans safe through a frost warning

  • Water the garden thoroughly before nightfall. The soil will release moisture into the air around your plants during the night, keeping the air somewhat warmer.
  • Even a slight breeze will prevent cold air from settling near the ground during the night. You can help keep frost from forming by providing this breeze artificially with an electric fan. (Note: Be sure to protect the fan and all electrical connections from water and the elements.
  • Cover up the plants before dusk. By the time it gets dark, much of the stored heat in the garden has already been lost.
    • If you have time, build a simple frame around the plant, or row of plants. (Even a single stake can be used in many cases.) Then drape a cover of newspaper, cardboard, plastic tarps, bed sheeting or any other lightweight material over the frame to create a tent.
    • If you don't have time to create a frame, lay the protective cover directly onto the plant. This will help to slow the loss of heat rising from the foliage and the ground. Remove the covers in the morning, once the frost has thawed, to let the light and fresh air back in, and to prevent overheating by the sun.
  • For smaller individual plants you can use glass jars, milk jugs with the bottom removed, paper cups upside down flower pots as heat traps. Don't forget to remove these covers in the morning.
  • You can collect heat during the day by painting plastic milk jugs black and filling them with water. Place them around your plants where they will collect heat during the day. Water loses heat more slowly than either soil or air. This collected heat will radiate out throughout the night.
  • Container grown plants are particularly susceptible to frosts because their roots are also unprotected. If you are unable to move your container plants indoors or under cover, remember to also wrap the pot in burlap or bubble wrap, or simply bury the pot in soil in addition to protecting the foliage.

The website also suggests asking the experts at your local flower shop to point out plants that do well in cold temperatures so you can “frost proof” your garden.

You can find out more information about protecting your plants and general gardening information at   www.thegardenhelper.com

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