It may be April, however, for some areas around the country, the ever-changing temperature is making people tired. One moment individuals are wearing shorts having some good times in the sun, and the following, they’re wrapped up in their best winter clothes. One of the greatest worries of gardeners is the risk of frosts and freezing weathers that can wreak havoc or kill plants. This article contains all that you have to know to protect delicate plants from harsh cold temperatures.
Definition of a Freeze?
A freeze happens when the temperature is below water’s freezing point (0° C or 32° F). When the fluid inside a plant freezes, it can make the plant cells to expand and burst, bringing about unsalvageable damage. Various types of plants respond in different ways to extremely cold temperatures:
- Frost-tender and tropical plants: have a very low tolerance to cold temperatures so they only germinate normally in warm temperatures.
- Yearly plants: they also prefer warm climates, so they scatter seeds to boost their numbers once the freeze is gone.
- Root-hardy perennials: A freeze often kill the foliage, however, the roots go into a dormant mode in order to ensure its survival till spring.
- Full hardy trees, shrubs, and perennials: they become completely dormant, which lessens their exposure to freezing temperatures. The plants converse water and their sap content reduces. Early leaves and spring blossoms might be harmed by pre-summer freezes, but the plants themselves generally recover.
Definition of Frost
Frost takes place on still and clear nights. Once the temperature of the air approaches freezing point, the temperature of the plants’ surface also falls below freezing, which leads to the formation of ice crystals in a similar way that dew develops on warm nights. Since temperatures differ only a couple of feet over the ground, frost can develop when your thermometer indicates above freeze. Freezing temperature is not always followed by frost.
There are different kinds of frost:
- Hoarfrost is the common feather-like white ice that you see on plants on cold mornings. It is caused by the formation of ice crystals when the water present in the air is deposited on the plants.
- Rime frost is as a result of water deposition in liquid form via fog or dew, which then solidifies. Rime often have a smooth glaze-like surface.
- Black frost is a term utilized when no ice crystals are visible, but the plants look darkened and damaged by the frosty temperatures.
Impacts of Freezing Temperatures on Plants
For everything except the delicate plants, it does not make a difference whether the weather caused a freeze or a frost. The key part is the degree and the length of coldness. As the temperature approaches freezing, a couple of degrees can have a major impact. In an effort to advice florists and gardeners, so they can implement necessary safety measures for their garden, various terms are utilized to portray the seriousness of a freeze. Here are some of the different terms that are commonly used:
- Light Frost: is also called Light Freeze. The temperature tumbles down to 28° F for a few hours. As ice crystals form on the outer part of the plants, only the fragile plants are hurt.
- Hard Frost: also known as Killing Frost, Moderate Freeze. The temperature remains between 24-28° F for some hours. It harms flowers and foliage. The plant cells burst because ice forms inside the plant. Crops and root-hardy perennials suffer but might recover after the frost is gone.
- Severe freeze: for many hours, the temperature is often stuck at below 25° F. It harms numerous plants, for the most part through parching (drying).
Can I Shield Delicate Plants from Damage by Freeze or Frost?
Yes, you can. Once there is a freeze prediction in your area, you need to find a way to protect fragile plants like tropical, houseplants, citrus trees, delicate bulbs (elephant ear and dahlia), trees and shrubs that bloom in spring(azalea, rhododendron, and cherry), warm-season vegetables (pepper, corn, and tomato), and summer annuals (impatiens, petunia, and geranium). Here are steps that you can take when the freezing temperature is about to hit:
- Relocate Indoors: Frost-delicate plants in containers should be moved into the house during chilly weather. Remove tender bulbs and keep them in a cool dry place for replanting later.
- Grow Plants in Frost-Resistant Areas: Just like real estate, location also applies to plants. Place seedlings and locally-acquired spring plants in zones that are less inclined to face damaging cold weather. Plants situated on slopes or high grounds will be passed by as cold air moves to lower ground. That is the reason it is ideal to put seedlings and plants that are vulnerable to frost in these raised areas. Setting plants by walls, fences, and benches — especially in the event that they are facing the west or south — can give extra protection, particularly if the structures have a dark color. This will allow the structures to absorb heat during the day. At night, they release that heat, giving warmth to the plants than they would generally be. Close-by greenery additionally shields plants from light freezes.
- Water Plants: give sufficient water to plants prior to a freeze to ensure they don’t dry out and to add insulating water to the plant cells and soil.
- Cover Fragile Sprouts: Use a mulch layer, flower pot or inverted bucket to cover delicate plants overnight. Make sure to remove the cover in the morning or afternoon when the temperature is warmer.
- Keep away from Frost Pockets: these are the lower areas in the ground. Cold air channels into these “pockets,” and it can’t get out. At the point when this occurs, plants situated in the discouraged regions can endure ice harm. Abstain from sowing seeds and bedding new plants in these low places.
To conclude, after taking all these safety measures, don’t forget to check for injured plants. Hardy shrubs, trees, and perennials that are visibly damaged may recuperate from a freeze. Though, their foliage and flowers might be lost for the year. Once they start growing normally, you will have to remove damaged branches and stems that didn’t recover. Since, frost-tender plants are less likely to survive a frost, only plant them when you are sure that the harsh freezing weather is gone.