Winter can be a trying time for gardens, even in tropical regions that are threatened with cold fronts that can result in cultivated landscapes being blanketed in a devastating layer of frost. Budding green thumbs quickly learn about the woes of winter once they walk outside one frigid morn to discover their precious plant babies have withered in chilled agony.
Prevention and protection are key to ensure Jack Frost doesn’t throttle your plant babies, causing permanent damage to overall health and development. Luckily, there are simple, inexpensive steps you can take to safeguard your greenery.
Layer on the mulch
Cushioning your flower beds, especially perennials, with a quality mulch is a miracle defense against the crippling cold. Unlike soil, mulch prevents the constant freezing and thawing out that can cause plants to heave out of the ground. Don’t overdo it though; a 2-3 inch layer will suffice just fine to keep plants toasty.
Bundle plants up
When temperatures drop, we bundle up to stay warm, so it’s only natural that the same goes for plants! Bring potted plants inside for an impending freeze and for your flower beds, protect them by covering up with an old blanket or tarp to keep wind and frost from causing damage.
Utilize an arbor, trellis, tree canopy or shed to shelter plants. This type of covering helps regulate the climate by raising temperatures at night and preventing excessive heat loss.
Before a freeze is due to descend upon the land, generously water the soil around your plants. Moist soil retains heat easier and once the cold has settled in, will evaporate and warm the air surrounding the plants. Be aware, this works best for light frost and could backfire for extreme freezes, causing severe harm.
Sunscald is a disease that can stunt growth and development in young trees if exposed to full sunshine during the day followed by an extreme drop in temperature at night. To trees, sunshine means springtime, and bark cells start to grow under the warmth of the sun’s rays. At night, when the cold sweeps in, these new cells are destroyed, disrupting water flow from the roots to the tree top because the dead cells are unable to conduct moisture. This exposes the tree to sickness and pests. Prevent sunscald by gently wrapping trunks with burlap or plastic.