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Nov
15
How to prepare your plants for tonights freeze!

Bundle up Houston!

The Greater Houston Area is expecting a moderate freeze tonight! ABC13 Weather is predicting overnight temperatures to reach as low as 27 degrees. In anticipation for this drop in the temperature, here are a few tips to keeping your plants safe.
Most hardy plants should fair well because this cold snap will only last one night, but your more tender plants will need protection.
Here are a few examples of tender plants:
  • Azaleas
  • Begonias
  • Bougainvillea
  • Canna
  • Citrus trees & edibles
  • Elephant Ear
  • Fuchsia
  • Geraniums
  • Succulents
  • Palms & Tropical varieties

Water:

I know it sounds crazy, but water your beds this afternoon. During the night, the soil\mulch will release the moisture into the air, raising the ambient temperature around your plant. Ensure that you ONLY water the soil or mulch, and NOT the leaves of the plants themselves. If you water the leaves of the plants, the water that is held within could freeze. This would cause the cells to rupture, damaging the plant, and could be potentially fatal.

Cover:

Drape your tender plants and shrubs with bed sheets, or blankets. You can add a plastic drop cloth to add extra insulation to help retain heat, but make sure that it is on the outer layer, not coming into physical contact with your plant. Be sure to do this BEFORE nightfall! Draping your plants during the day will help ensure that they retain as much heat as possible.
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Secure:

We are expecting some winds, so make sure that the coverings you drape over your plants are securly in place. If you purchaed plant drapings, secure them with ground stakes. If you used bed sheets or blankets, place some small to mid-sized rocks along the edges to make sure that they don't blow away during the night, leaving your plants exposed. Do NOT tie them around the trunk or base, because then the heat of the soil will not be able to reach your plant.
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Bring Potted Plants Indoors:

Gather your plants that are in pots or hanging planters and bring them indoors. The soil within is not sufficint to generate enough warmth to ensure their survival during a freeze.

Wrap Trees:

Wrap your citrus or other fruit bearing trees with burlap or tree wrap, and secure it with rope or bungee cords. The thinner bark of fruit bearing trees can crack when the temperatures experience extreme fluctuations. Wrapping them like this will help to prevent them from "frost crack".
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Wrap Palms:

Cover the root ball of your palms with mulch to provide insulation. Then wrap the center spear and the first 3-6 fronds with water pipe insulation. If you don't have any available, pool noodles left over from the summer will work. Fold over the tops of the insulation to prevent excess water from being trapped between the insulating layer and your plant. Secure your wrap with tape.

The Morning After:

Remove all coverings and wraps first thing tomorrow moring, after the remaining frost has thawed. Failing to do this early in the morning could lead to future plant damage in two ways. First, during periods of continual freezing temperatures, the buildup of condensation within the covering or wrap could freeze, causing damage to your plants. Secondly, the insulated heat during the day could cause your plants to break thier dormancy, which would trigger an out of season active growth period. This would leave them more vulnerable, as the energy they contain would be diverted from storage to growth and would leave them more susceptible to frost damage in the future.

We here at Mike Ball Irrigation hope that this will help you prepare for not only tonights freeze, but for any freezes we anticipate in the coming months. Stay warm Houston!