How to Cover Plants in Cold Weather?

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As a plant owner, one of the most important things to look out for is the weather. When temperatures start to drop, your plants will require help and additional protection to last the season. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to provide them with a cover. But how exactly do you do that? Here’s a list of how to cover plants in cold weather.

Tips to Cover Plants in Cold Weather

1. Common household items

You can cover your plants with a sheet or blanket if you are expecting a light freeze or short cold snap. This will act as insulation and help keep the air warm from the ground and around your plant. Thus, preventing your plants from freezing. 

You can also add plastic over the sheet or blanket to provide added protection to your plants. This will help keep the warmth in during a freeze. Just make sure never to use plastic alone as this could damage your plants. Always keep a blanket or sheet between the plastic and your plants.

Other materials you can use as a cover include a tarp, cardboard boxes, bed sheets, and towels. You may even use plastic tubs and large trash cans. But no matter what you use, make sure you are covering from the ground up. This will provide more secure protection against the wind and cold. Plus, it will keep the soil warm, and as a result, keep your plants warm. Just make sure to use bricks, rocks, or firewood to keep your cover in place.    

Additionally, you have to remove all these covers first thing in the morning to prevent condensation from building up and freezing again – which can end up damaging your plants. Also, the heat from the sun can accumulate under the covers and cause your plants to die. 

2. Bucket or pots

In frosty conditions, you may cover your tender plants with upturned flowerpots or buckets. This is a quick and simple step that creates a huge difference. 

3. Tree wrap

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For trees that are young or have thin barks, consider wrapping them with a tree wrap. This will provide a layer of protection to the bark and prevent them from splitting. Tree wraps are available in different materials, depending on the brand you purchase. The most common ones are paper, burlap, polypropylene fabric, and corrugated cardboard. 

4. Mulch 

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If you are expecting a short cold period, you can cover your low plantings with mulch and apply it around the base. This will protect the root zone from the cold. You can use either leaf mold or straw. Once the danger of frost is over, remove them. 

For a longer period of frost, consider applying heavy mulch around the roots of your plant. You can use either hay or wood mulch. If you want to add more protection to your plants, you can burrow jugs of warm water in the mulch every night to help reduce some of the colds that may damage or kill the roots. 

When Not to Cover Your Plants in Cold Weather

Keep in mind that covering plants may not be always necessary. This is because some plants are capable of surviving just fine, even in winter. For instance, hollies, pansies, and azaleas need not be covered. While they may wilt overnight, they will come alive again the next day. 

How Do Cold Weather Affect Plants?

While plants have different tolerance and hardiness, the cold weather can still affect them in the following ways:

  • Under freezing temperatures, ice crystals may form in your plant’s cells. As a result, the movement of fluids and nutrients are disrupted, and water becomes unavailable to the plant’s tissues. This destroys your plants from the inside, causing them to wilt even after the cold weather has passed.  
  • The frost can damage the leaves and make them turn black or dark brown. 
  • The cold weather may cause the soil to freeze, leading to desiccation. Meaning, your plants will transfer a great deal of water from the leaves and into the atmosphere. This may lead to the death of your otherwise healthy plants. 
  • The cold weather is usually more brutal to younger plants that haven’t established themselves yet in your garden. This is because they still don’t have the strength or structure to support their cell tissues from expanding. 
  • Your plant’s enzyme activity will be reduced in colder weather, affecting its nutrient intake. As a result, their growth will be halted. In more severe conditions, it may cause them to die. 

Must Read: Best Humidifier For Plants

Other Ways to Protect Your Plants in Cold Weather

Now that you know what the cold does to plants, it will help to apply some defensive measures to help them survive temperature drops. So aside from covering your plants, consider doing the following steps:

1. Water your plants

Keep in mind that your plants still require watering even in cold weather. So water your plants when temperatures get a little warmer. If the soil is frozen, best to skip watering your plants since they will be unable to draw up water through their roots. 

2. Move potted plants

For your potted plants, consider moving them to a sheltered spot, such as your garage, shed, porch, or under a deck. Then wrap the sides of the pots with either a fleece plant wrap or a bubble wrap. 

Do not, however, take your favorite potted plants indoors during cold conditions. The sudden temperature change may cause damages to your plants or, worse, kill them. 

3. Use lights

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Consider hanging lights on your bushes or trees to keep them warm in low temperatures. You can use holiday lights or incandescent light bulb for this. Or if you have those giant and old bulbs, bring them out and hang them. The bigger the light source, the more heat it can produce. Thus, making it more effective. Take note, however, that new LED lights may not do much at all. 

4. Start at the planting stage

The most effective way to protect your plants from cold damage is to start at the planting stage. Only choose native plants or hardy specimens that can best adapt to your climate. And place them where they can have some shelter. 

If possible, avoid any marginal plants. But if you can’t resist buying one, keep such plants in a container and take them to your basement or garage. Once the danger of frost is over, take them out. 

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