Cold Weather Protection for Plants

Question:

We have a newly landscaped yard, and I’m concerned about the winter cold.  What is the best way to protect the plants from frost damage?  I thought I heard about a spray that protects plants when it freezes.

Answer:

  • Cloud Cover or Bonide Wilt Stop coats the leaves of plants with a protective layer that insulates the tissue from the cold  but it still allows the leaves to breathe.
    • The best non-technical description for these products  is ’ Chap Stick’ for plants. While you can apply it to all your plants, It’s really not necessary for any plant that drop their leaves like Japanese Maples, evergreen, woody ornamentals, such as photinia, camellias, pyracantha, etc. along with conifers such as redwoods, pines, and junipers. Bougainvilleas, mandevilleas, hibiscus, citrus, and succulents are the primary cold-sensitive plants.
    • This applies to those plants in the open ground or in containers. Our first frost or freeze date isn’t until December even though it’s getting cold at night. So there is ample opportunities to apply Cloud Cover or Bonide Wilt Stop now and let it dry. It’s a milky color that dries clea
  •  Frost or cold is a descant, pulling moisture out of plant tissue causing the cells to rupture. The foliage is brunt and you’ll have dead stems and branches depending on the internal moisture of the plant. It crucial that there is moisture in the ground. Mother Nature supplies it in the form of rain but plants under any type of covering needs to be watered with any frost or freeze warning.
  • The severity of the damage is determined by how cold it gets and how long the temperature stays under thirty-two degrees after the sun rises.
    • Plants are not affected by the ‘wind chill’ only the actual temperature.  With such warnings, I’d be prepared to cover the sensitive plants with a plant blanket such as N-Sulate, but not plastic as the cold will travel through it.
    • The plants are covered a dinner time and removed at breakfast. All you need to do is toss it over the plants. It’s not necessary to tie or secure it. Frost or freezing temperatures only occur when the air is calm with no air movement. It will not blow off.
    • Typically we get three to four such warnings each winter. Also, it’s not advisable to wrap plants like a mummy for an extended period of time.
    • Container plants should be cluster together and grouped next to the house. The escaping heat is beneficial. Also, add some non-LED miniature lights. The lights give off small amounts of heat that can warm the cold air under the blanket. Even with the Cloud Cover or Bonide Wilt Stop, water, a protected covering and lights damage can occur.
  •  I wouldn’t be in any hurry to prune off the frost damage as it can help protect the foliage below. The danger of frost is usually over by St. Patrick’s Day. But there are those years when there is a late frost, so wait until April to prune.