Protecting Tender Annual Flowers From Frost

Anytime there is a threat of frost, you will want to take precautionary measures to protect tender annuals from exposure to cold temperatures.

You have worked hard putting in all those eye-popping annual flowers; and now listening to the weather report, there is the threat of frost on its way. What do you do? First of all, do not panic. However, do keep in mind that anytime there is a threat of frost, you will want to take precautionary measures to protect tender annuals from exposure to cold temperatures.

The most common way to guard annual flowers against frost is with the use of some type of covering. Generally, most anything will work; but old blankets, sheets, and even burlap sacks are best. When covering plants, drape them loosely over the plants and secure with stakes, rocks, or bricks. The lighter covers can simply be placed directly over the annual flowers; heavier covers may require support with wire to prevent the flowers from becoming crushed under the weight. Covering tender annuals in the evening will help keep heat trapped in and protect them from freezing. However, it is important that the covers be removed once the sun comes out the following morning, otherwise, the plants may fall victim to suffocation.

Another way to protect annuals is by watering them a day or two before the frost is expected. Soil that is wet will hold more heat than soil that is dry. However, do not saturate the plants while the temperatures are extremely low as this will ultimately injure the plant during a freeze. Light watering in the evening hours, before temperatures drop, will help raise humidity levels and reduce frost damage.

Some people prefer to mulch their annual plants. This is fine for some, however, not all tender plants will tolerate heavy mulching; therefore, these may require covering instead. There is a variety of mulching materials that can be implemented. Straw, pine needles, bark, and loosely piled leaves are popular. When using mulch, try to keep the depth at about two to three inches. Mulch helps to lock in moisture and holds in heat.

There are some tender annuals which actually require over-wintering in a cold frame or indoors. Cold frames can be purchased at most garden centers or built quite easily at home. Wood, cinder blocks, or bricks can be used for the sides; and old storm windows can be implemented as the top. For those needing a quick, temporary frame, simply incorporate the use of baled hay or straw. Stack these around your annual plants and apply an old window to the top.

Designing a garden with raised beds will also help during cold temperatures. Cold air tends to collect in the sunken areas rather than the higher mounds. Raised beds make covering of plants easier as well.

The best way to know what type of precautionary measures you should take for annual flowers is to be aware of the individual needs of each plant. Understand beforehand the type and care of all plants within your gardening landscape. The more you know the better off your garden and tender plants will be.

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