Are Your Container Plants Suffering From the Cold?

Keep Them Snug and Protected From Frost Damage With These 4 Essential Tips

When winter comes, we can simply bundle up and stay indoors, taking advantage of the heating system. Our plants however, don’t have it so easy.

Containers plants with tender foliage like herbs and ferns tend to suffer from frost and cold snaps. They need all the protection you can give them from the cold. Here are some tips to help your plants keep the cold at bay.

1. Make sure your plants are hydrated. The first thing you need to do is to check if your container plant’s soil is moist. Soil can retain more heat it isn’t too dry. Your plants also have a better chance of survival if they’re hydrated.

But make sure you’re not watering them too much. Excessive moisture from over-watering or winter rain can cause puddles to build up at the base, depriving the roots of oxygen and drowning them. This leads to rotting and the plant dying eventually. Just give them enough water to keep them from drying out.

2. Move container plants into warm, cozy spots. It’s better to assume that your plants can’t tough it out in the cold, so move them indoors at night or in the late afternoon, as soon as the temperature starts to drop.

The garage, shed, or a cozy spot by the window is the perfect place to put your container plants. Take them back out again in the morning as the temperature warms up.

3. Cover your plants. At night, soil releases some of the heat trapped inside it during the day. You need to retain this heat so your plants won’t suffer too much form the cold.

You can do this by inverting boxes, buckets, or plastic jugs with the tops removed over your plants. Bubble wrap, sheets, and trash bags will also do in a pinch. A glass or plastic cloche works ideally on individual plants. You can buy them from gardening supply stores.



4. Enclose larger container gardens with a tent. If you have a large container garden that isn’t movable or you simply don’t have enough room for them indoors, you can enclose it with a tent at night to retain the heat. If possible, move your container garden up against a wall first.

Then, make a sturdy frame out of bamboo, wood, or pvc piping. Cover the frame with fabric, burlap, tarp, or plastic. The best material for this is a fleece fabric because it’s light and airy, and drapes over the tops of plants without putting too much pressure on it.

Secure the cover by tying it with twine or zip ties, or weighing it down with rocks. To retain the most heat, make sure the cover is close enough, but not too close that it touches the plants.

During the day, remember to take off the cover at least partially to let fresh air circulate and keep your plants from getting too damp or getting “cooked” from too much heat.

For more info, check out this tutorial:

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Protecting Container Gardens From Frost
How to Protect Your Container Garden From Frost