Freeze Alert! Protect Your Plants!

Jesse JenkinsBest Practices, Freeze, Frost Protection, Problem Solving, Timely Tips, Weather Alert18 Comments

As of right now, NOAA (our preferred source for weather forecasts) shows cold weather starting Sunday night (1/14) through Wednesday morning (1/17), with temperatures dipping below freezing Monday and Tuesday nights. That means we’re busy preparing to protect plants here at Gill’s! We want you to be prepared too – here’s how.

1. Water all plants well. It sounds counterintuitive, but watering will help keep the ground temperature warmer by filling tiny air pockets in the soil.

2. Cover cold-sensitive/tropical plants (like Dracenas, Ti plants, Crown of Thorns, Schefflera, Ixora) and tender new plants. Cold-tolerant plants that were recently planted in the ground (like trees, Boxwoods, Hawthorns, etc.) do not need to be covered, just watered well.

  • Gather supplies now, but wait until Sunday afternoon/evening to cover your plants. Keep your eye on the weather – it could change!
  • We have pre-cut frost blankets and frost protection cloth that can be cut to your desired shape, or you can use quilts, bedsheets, towels, etc.
  • Make a tent to capture ground warmth. Wrapping plants like a lollipop will not be effective. Make your tent and use whatever you have to weigh down the edges, like anchor pins, bricks, firewood, garden hoses, rocks, etc. Remember – the most important thing is to capture ground warmth. The ground temperature will remain warmer than the air. Watch Wyatt’s demo video below!
  • Consider cutting back tall shrubs. If you have taller shrubs like Esperanza that would be difficult or impossible to cover, consider cutting it back to a few feet tall so you can cover it.

3. Bring in potted plants. Since potted plants don’t have the advantage of retaining ground warmth, they are more susceptible to cold temps. Bring them into the house or garage if you can. If they are too big or heavy, water them well, lay them over on the ground, and cover the whole plant (pot and all) with the tent method.

We can’t cover all of the information about freeze protection here, but you can give us a call or stop by if you have questions. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram where we’ll continue to post how-to’s and updates.

Click to Watch – How to Cover Plants for the Freeze!

18 Comments on “Freeze Alert! Protect Your Plants!”

    1. Hi Betty – it would be very difficult to protect a tall banana tree unless you could build a tent over it. Go ahead and pick the bananas now. The good news is that the foliage may get knocked back by the freeze, but will grow back quickly.

  1. I have about 10/12 Monarch caterpillars that I have been nurturing for about 10 days. They should be forming their chrysalis any time now. Question #1. They have just about exhausted the leaves on the plants provided for them. What short term recommendations do you have for feeding them. Question #2. I’m at Port A and what shall I do to prepare them for the cold coming in. # of the plants they are feeding on are in pots. I was going to cover them with a sheet and put a small string of Christmas lights under the cover to give them warmth.

    1. Hi Francy – bring the potted plants inside the house or garage. You can use zucchini spears to feed the butterflies short term.

  2. I have a 2 year old Bismark Palm. Besides watering well what should I do to protect it? I lost my 15 y/o Bismark Palm in the big freeze several years ago and don’t want to loose this one.

    1. Hi Nancy – just water well! Since this is not a sustained freeze, we do not expect it would hurt a Bismark palm.

    1. Hi Elizabeth – just a good thorough watering on Sunday. Water slow and deep making sure to get water down into the ground.

  3. I have a lemon tree that has a ton of blooms and even tiny fruit on it. It’s still a small tree. I will definitely water well. Should I try to cover it? Also, if I lose the blooms and fruit, is there any hope that it will bloom again this year?

    1. Hi Lisa – yes, water well, and you should definitely try to cover it if you can. Use bamboo poles or t-posts to help make a tent over it to capture as much ground warmth as possible.

  4. Hi Gill’s.

    It’s bone dry out and my beds need water now.
    Is it too soon to water or should I wait until the day before the cold snap to do so? I already watered the back beds because they were so dry. I do have about 3” of mulch on front/back beds.

    Also your post says to “cover pots to the ground” am I correct in assuming that the pots should *also* be laid horizontally on the ground?
    What if I’ve pruned the plants back hard – do I then still need to lay the pots on the ground?

    1. Hi Tara – good questions. You can go ahead and water deeply now if you need to, then do supplemental watering on Sunday. The mulch is good insulation too – that’s great. If you can cover the whole pot without laying it over, that’s fine. Just make sure you’re covering all the way to the ground to try to capture ground warmth.

  5. I have inmature bananas in my banana tree that are still very slim. If I pick them up now will they be edible? We know how to cook green bananas but these are still not full. If I cut it now do I hang it inside to see if they continue to develop or try to use them? Thanks!

  6. Good morning Gill’s!
    I have a few questions about completing prepping for our inclement weather. I brought all of my movable plants in to the garage.
    1. Should I water the plants in the garage or leave them dry?
    2. What can I do for my gigantic in-ground bird-of-paradise?
    3. Do I need to cut back my drift roses before I cover them?
    4. Do I need to water the lawn before the freeze?
    5. I have some blooming vinca in the ground and some Katie Dwarf Ruellia…any tips for those?
    Thanks for all your help!

  7. Hi Polly – here are your answers:

    1. Should I water the plants in the garage or leave them dry? – Yes, water them if you didn’t water before you brought them in
    2. What can I do for my gigantic in-ground bird-of-paradise? – Cover it if you can. Use long bamboo poles or pvc to help create a structure for frost cloth.
    3. Do I need to cut back my drift roses before I cover them? – No
    4. Do I need to water the lawn before the freeze? – Watering can help insulate the roots, just like other plants, but lawns should be fine with this freeze.
    5. I have some blooming vinca in the ground and some Katie Dwarf Ruellia…any tips for those? – The vinca will freeze. You could try to cover them if you’d like, but they won’t like the cold. The ruellia will suffer some damage up top, but the roots will be fine and it will grow back fast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *