Protect your Plants from Damage by Frost
We don't often get frost on the Highveld, but the recent cold spell shows that we should be protecting plants in the garden from damage by frost.
The last cold spell we experienced a few days ago was so bad that it damaged a couple of plants in my garden. I know that we sometimes get frost in the region, but it has been a long time since I had such a bad case of frost and it managed to sneak up on me. I usually protect plants that will not tolerate frost and, since this is the first major cold spell, it is a good idea to add frost protection to any plants that may be susceptible to damage by frost.
A single night of frost can destroy your favourite plants, shrubs and trees that are not frost-tolerant. Using frost protection, as shown below, will ensure garden plants are less susceptible to damage from frost.
Wonder, Coolaroo, and other suppliers offer frost protection covers that can be cut to size to wrap around or over plants to protect them from frost. Pop into your local Builders store to purchase a roll of inexpensive frost protection before it is too late.
Protect Potted Plants from Frost
If you have any plants that are potted in containers or hanging baskets, you will want to move these into a place where they can be stored overwinter to protect them from frost. That's why I love having plants that can be moved around; they are easy to put away into a warm spot where the frost won't get to them. If the pots or baskets are too heavy, you can drape a fabric cover over the plants to protect them during a cold spell.
And don't think that indoor plants are automatically safe from frost, in some areas of the country, indoor plants that don't like the cold and are close to windows, French or sliding doors are just as susceptible to the cold weather and it can affect them adversely.
Protect Fruit Trees and Vegetables from Frost
Fruit trees and vegetable crops are most susceptible to frost, and it only takes one cold snap to destroy your entire crop. With many gardeners investing time and money into growing their own produce, buying a fabric frost cover is a minimal outlay when it could protect your fruit trees and vegetables from frost damage.
A single evening of frost can destroy whatever crops you still have planted in your vegetable garden.
Covering vegetables and fruit trees with a frost cover will protect them until the weather turns warmer and the possibility of frost has passed.
Protect Plants, Shrubs and Small Trees from Frost
New leaf growth, tender shoots, last-of-the-season flowers, and plants that are intolerant of frost can easily be damaged during a very cold spell. If planted out in the garden, cover these with frost covers during extreme cold weather or if frost is expected in the region. As soon as you see any crystals on leaves in the early morning, it is time to get out the frost protection covers.
Frost covers protect plants by retaining heat and preventing radiant heat loss. Adding a layer of mulch around the base of plants also helps to retain warmth from during the day to protect plants when the temperature drops overnight. Covering all your tender plants with frost covers is worthwhile when you consider the investment put into a garden. Frost covers should be placed on plants in the early afternoon on cold days and removed at around 9.00 in the morning. If you don't want to invest in frost covers, you can use burlap or hessian bags or fabric or even make a few cardboard wigwams to cover tender groundcover and plants.
Should any plants be damaged by frost, do not remove the damaged sections, rather leave them on the plant to provide protection for the rest of the plant. Trim these back when warmer weather arrives.
The past couple of cold days have shown me that, while I'm not in a zone for frost, climate change has brought about many variations in the weather and frost in the future is no longer a far-fetched idea.