Protecting your plants when the temperatures drop

Posted: Updated:
(Source: cNews Charlie Moore) (Source: cNews Charlie Moore)

Temperatures are dropping and we need to start focusing on protecting our plants and trees during the nighttime lows into the 30s and lower.  

It is important to protect these frost-sensitive plants like lantanas, bougainvillea, natal plum, citrus trees, cape honeysuckle, myoporum, any variety of ficus trees and any tropical type plant. For any others that you are unsure of, it is better to be safe and protect those as well now rather than later.  

When preparing for frost protection, it is important that you stop pruning your plants and trees until at least late February or until the overnight temperatures stay above 32 degrees. The top layers of foliage act as insulation for the underlying layers protecting them from extreme temperatures, so it is important that you do not prune your plants anymore even if they have sustained frost damage. If you forget to cover them, most plants can survive a few nights of frosty temperatures but the quicker you act the better you are.

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One step to take to prepare for and going into the colder nights is watering later in the evening (between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.). This actually helps release heat as the water evaporates and helps protect the plants. 

Once you have that established, it is time to look at different items you can use to cover your plants: newspaper, sheets, blankets, cardboard boxes, paper bags, burlap, frost cloth (found at local nurseries or home and garden centers) and Christmas lights (large lights work the best). These are all great tools to use and it's not necessary to even use all of them with a vast variety available. Avoid using plastic at all. There is no right or wrong way to cover your plants as long as they are protected completely like wrapping yourself in a blanket and when using any of the above mentioned you want to at least remove them during the day for proper air flow and give your plants a break and try to get some sunlight.

It is also important to mention that when covering your plants they get completely covered to the ground to help capture that heat and hold it in, and keep an anchor nearby just in case of any gusts of wind that might blow them off. If any of your plants or trees sustained any frost damage, do not to trim it back until after the frost season or the temperatures have stayed about 32 degrees at night. Also, find where your ASV is located and make sure to cover that at night with some sheets to avoid any costly repairs if the pipe were to ever freeze and break. It is also good to run your pool pumps to have the water continuously moving in the pipes to help prevent any damage there as well.

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