10 Tips on How to Protect Plants from Frost

Ralph Astley is a retired gardener from Philadelphia who specializes in outdoor plants and trees. With years of hands-on experience, Ralph not only cares for a diverse range of outdoor flora but also shares his extensive knowledge through well-written articles and social media posts. A trusted authority in arboriculture, he's committed to helping the community grow healthier, more robust gardens.
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Looking for the best ways on How to Protect Plants from Frost? These tips and tricks will keep your green buddies safe from cold!

Protecting your plants from frost is an important step to take before winters start to knock on your garden’s door. We’ll share some expert strategies and easy-to-implement ideas to keep your plants cozy and safe.

How to Protect Plants from Frost?

1. Apply a Layer of Mulch

Apply a Layer of Mulch 1

Add dry mulch like chipped bark or straw around the base of the garden and potted plants. Do make sure to apply a layer of 1-2 inches. You can also go for leaf mold or piles on garden beds for extra cold protection.

2. Keep Tender Plants in a Sheltered Area

Keep Tender Plants in a Sheltered Area 2

Before the winter approaches, keep plants near a south or west-facing wall for better heat absorption and radiation.

Sheltered positions like next to fences, under large evergreen trees, pergolas, or in sunny patio/courtyard areas are the best locations to keep plants extra warm.

Pro Tip: For early-flowering plants like magnolias and camellias, avoid exposing them to morning sun to prevent rapid defrosting, which may lead to blackening and bud drop.

3. Move Potted Plants Indoors

Move Potted Plants Indoors 3

Protecting plants from frost is simple – bring them indoors! This is great if you have most of your green buddies in containers.

You can keep them in the basement, garage, porch, or frost-free greenhouse for overwintering. Just make sure they get a few hours of indirect sun exposure every day.

4. Cover With Fleece

Cover With Fleece 4

For protecting larger garden plants and shrubs, cover them with horticultural fleece. Alternatively, you can also go for used blankets or bedsheets to create a protective layer.

Put stakes around your plants and make a tent-like structure. Weigh down the corners to prevent covers from blowing away at night, and remove them during the day.

A Tip: For a less obtrusive option, use wire netting filled with bracken or leaves to keep the cold away.

5. Water Plants in Late Morning or Early Afternoon

Water Plants in Late Morning or Early Afternoon 5

Your watering routine can impact how to protect plants from frost, surprisingly. Watering in the late morning or early afternoon, especially during winter or in frost risk, is ideal.

Wet soil absorbs heat during the day, providing insulation.

Discover Reasons for Brown Tips on Indoor Plants + Solutions in this Post

6. Use Cloche to Protect Plants

Use Cloche to Protect Plants 6

One effective method to shield plants is using a cloche – they are also available in plastic or other materials. Some of the best options include:

  • Empty Plastic Jugs: Use old milk gallons or juice cartons by cutting them in half and placing them over your plants. This is a simple and inexpensive way to protect your plants.
  • Chicken Wire Garden Cloche: With chicken wire and some basic tools, you can build a cloche that’s effective in keeping animal pests away from your plants.
  • Soda Bottle Cloche: An upcycled soda bottle can be a quick fix for protecting your plants from the cold.
  • Recycled Plastic Jug Cloche: Similar to the soda bottle idea, you can use larger plastic milk jugs to create cloches.
  • Shopping Bag Cloche: A unique idea where a white grocery bag and twigs can be used to create a cloche.

A Tip: Remove them during the day to let the plants benefit from the sun’s warmth and energy. 

7. Cover the Pots and Plants with a Bubblewrap

Cover the Pots and Plants with a Bubblewrap 7

If bringing containers indoors isn’t an option to protect plants from frost, cover them with bubble wrap, making sure some parts are open to let some air in when the sun is up.

8. Put Plants into a Cold Frame

Put Plants into a Cold Frame 8

Position plants in a winter cold frame, ensuring proper ventilation on warmer days. You can make one by bending metal rods into loops (wire coat hangers work).

Insert the loop ends into the ground on either side of a row of crops or plants, then cover with clear plastic secured in place to protect the plants underneath.

9. Use Pot Covers

Use Pot Covers 9

Covering pots using burlap bags or thick cloth is great for trapping the warmth, helping the outer surface of the container to be safe from frost. You can style these in different ways to make them look attractive!

10. Avoid Pruning

Avoid Pruning 10

Pruning, before or during winter, can expose plants to harsh winter conditions, making them vulnerable to damage from frost. This exposure can lead to dieback, where the plant tissue is damaged or killed by freezing temperatures.

Winter is the time when most of the plants go into their dormant stage, and pruning during this time can interrupt this natural process, leading to stress and weakened health. Moreover, cuts made during this period heal slower, increasing the risk of infection and disease.

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