Avoiding Frost Damage

  • The coldest spots in a yard are large areas of open ground that are exposed to the sky, and low spots like hollows where cold air will sink. Be ready to cover tender plants in these areas on really cold nights.
  • The warmest spots are on the south side of the house.
  • Overhangs, lath structures and evergreen branches provide nice cover from frost. If you can, move your plants to these sheltered areas.
  • Container plants should be moved in to the garage or inside during really cold nights.
  • If your plants are permanent, or too large to be moved, cover them with a cardboard box, sheets, or burlap, but don’t allow the material covers to rest on leaves, they will the burn foliage. To keep materials off the plant’s foliate, drive stakes in around the plant to create a temporary shelter that the material can be draped over. Remember to remove the covers during the day.
  • Don’t use plastic covers as they can smother a plant.
  • Water well before the ground freezes, then apply a thick mulch to protect plant’s roots.


If you’re too late, and you already have frost damaged plants, here is what you do:

  • Initially nothing
  • Leave the dead material there because it will help protect the plant if another freeze comes along and also from sunburn.
  • Wait until the warm weather is here to stay and then see where any new growth is starting to emerge.
  • When you can see new growth, and all chance of frost is gone, then you can prune off the dead material.
  • ·         Water only enough to keep the damaged plants alive, since they have lost so much foliage, their water requirements will be reduced.