Tips from the Help Desk…

Cold Protection Pro Tips

by David Austin
Residential Horticulture Agent and
Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator

Late December and early January brought the Heartland of Florida some unexpected colder-than-usual temperatures. January and February are usually our colder months, so expect a few more rounds to come. Hopefully, your plants survived these earlier frosts and freezes. Keep on your toes!  Here are some things you can do to protect your plants or minimize damage. 
  • Make sure plants are watered well the day before a freeze or frost. Wet soil holds more heat than dry soil and it’s that heat you can depend on to radiate warmth around your plants during the cold event.
  • Cover plants with a breathable fabric, secured to the ground, to capture radiating heat.


    A Woman covers orange, yellow, and red snapdrogon plants with white frost cloth.
    A senior laboratory technician at the University of Florida’s Research and Education Center in Live Oak, covers snapdragons to help protect from extreme cold temperatures. Photo from IFAS Communications
  • Lights that create heat can be placed under covers but make sure the covers aren’t flammable!
  • Make sure your lawn sprinklers are off during the freeze.
  • Frost forms around 37 degrees. It doesn’t have to be 32 degrees to cause damage.
  • Frost doesn’t form on windy or cloudy nights but freezes can happen then.
  • Underneath tree canopies can be a frost-free zone but not freeze-free.
  • Thermometers will be most accurate on a cold night in the open and close to the ground.
  • Running water under the canopy of trees and shrubs can help protect them but running water over the top can be a mistake.
  • Sometimes the weatherman is wrong, so always proceed with caution!
  • Don’t trim cold-damaged plants until March. Leave them be!
Read my Blog on cold protection here for more detailed information.

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by David Austin

Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert

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