Photos, email mails and calls are pouring in from friends living in the south. These are the friends that post beautiful pictures of gorgeous frost tender plants throughout the year that leave me drooling and waiting for the day to have any color resembling what they share.
As of this writing, those contacting me are not to share their posies of beauty, but of an attempt to save their plants from the freezing temperatures they are experiencing at the moment.
The calls prompted me to move from my stagnant writings of late and get word out to them (and any other reader) of how to protect their garden from the biting cold. Hopefully, it isn’t too late!
First, string either Christmas lights (not the LED cool ones) into the trees or shrubs. If the Christmas lights are now safely stored away, you can run an extension cord out to plants and use either a refrigerator or oven light. Next, set up poles around those frost tender plants and cover them with some type of sheeting. Keep the sheeting away from the foliage of the plant or there could be potential damage to that foliage. If this happens, that foliage can be pruned back to healthy tissue.
Move any potted plants into the garage or protected area maintaining a temperature of approximately 50 F. At this point, lighting is not as important as it is keeping the plant from freezing.If your temperatures have not dropped below freezing, take the time to spray all those frost tender plants with Cloud Cover but still employ the above directions for protection. (Cloud Cover is a product that prevents the plant from transpiring thus holding moisture in the plant.)
Hopefully there is a good three inch layer of mulch around the garden that will help keep the roots warmer and prevent the soil from freezing shallow rooted plants.
After the freeze has past, wait to prune back what appears to be any damage incurred. Oft times, the leaves of many plants will protect the wood and new growth could appear in time.
Lastly, get bird and suet feeders filled for our feathered friends.
It goes without say, make certain to bundle up in the cold. Warm gloves, heavy jacket and knit cap will help. Don’t forget to prepare a cup of any hot beverage at the end of those chores for a sustaining welcome.