Frost & Freeze Protection/Mitigation
Cold is coming, protect your plants
Even in sunny California, frost can happen. Deciding the best steps for action before the cold hits is the best way to protect from, and mitigate frost damage- But there are steps you can take during and afterwards to keep your landscape safe during the winter.
Before the Frost:
… Mulch your plants. Creating an insulating barrier between the cold and roots is your first line of defense. Mulching regulates the temperature of the roots below, and by holding in above-freezing moisture, mitigates root damage.
…Then cover your plants (if you can.) A protective barrier like frost cloth will insulate heat. Just don’t let the foliage touch the cloth. If you don’t have time to do all your plants, just cover the centerpieces of your landscape design.
…Finally, water your plants. Well-hydrated plants survive frost conditions better than thirsty plants.
During the Frost:
…Rinse your plants. As strange as it may sound, the water that is being sprayed on the plants is obviously warmer than the freezing air. Freezing water actually produces a small amount of heat close to the plant and the layer of moisture on the plants is actually is freezing before the leaves & vascular system of the plants freeze. At our nursery, we have overhead sprinklers to turn on during the frost, which is also common practice for many citrus growers.
After the Frost:
In the event that one of your plants suffered from wilt or damage, wait before you prune. In fact, wait until Spring in order to trim back any plants or trees that may have become damaged. Dead plant material will provide protection to vital inner layers, and waiting to prune will help you understand how much damage was taken during the freeze, allowing you to better plan for next year.
While we don’t usually see temperatures drop that low in California, it’s important to understand the principals of protection and mitigation of cold damage to keep our landscapes looking beautiful year-round. It only takes one severe freeze to cause damage and compromise your hard work.