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Tips for cold weather plant protection | Home & Garden

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Tips for cold weather plant protection
Tips for cold weather plant protection

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. -- When the weather report calls for freezing temperatures overnight, you do not want to be rushing outside in the dark to cover cold-sensitive plants.

According to University of Georgia experts, protect plants in containers either by placing them inside a protective structure (house, garage, greenhouse or shed) or by placing a protective covering over them.

“People put a lot of time and expense in caring for their plants,” states Menia Chester, Director of Fulton County Cooperative Extension. “It is important for them to know how to protect their investments to nurture them for growth when the weather is cold.”

Container plants are especially susceptible to cold temperatures; their roots are more exposed because they are above ground. Plants with roots that are damaged by cold temperatures may not show immediate signs of damage; these plants will show signs of stress when temperatures rise and the demand for water from the roots are greater.

Listed below are tips for protecting plants from cold weather:

Push together container plants that are left outside and mulch or cover them to decrease heat loss from the sides of the containers. Wrap the bases of the containers in plastic, burlap or blankets to reduce heat loss.

Plants growing close to the ground are usually protected by heat radiating from the soil. Tall, more open plants do not receive as much radiating heat and are not as protected from the cold. Mulching helps reduce heat loss of the soil, thus minimizing temperature fluctuations. Protecting the roots of tender perennials may also be beneficial for them to survive the cold and come back in the spring.

Covering your plants with sheets, blankets or cardboard boxes helps protect them from low temperature injury. UGA specialists do not recommend using plastic sheeting; the plant can heat up rapidly as temperatures rise and be damaged. Remove the cover and provide ventilation during the day to allow the release of the heat that is trapped by solar radiation. You can build a frame from PVC or similar material to keep the cover from coming in contact with the plant and possibly breaking leaves and stems.

For more information about plant protection, please call Fulton County Cooperative Extension at 404-332-2400 or visit UGA for more tips.

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