Wednesday, January 4, 2012

FAQ: What should I use to cover my plants during cold weather?

Q. It's forecast for the temperature to drop into the "teens" tonight. I'm afraid that some of my plants will be damaged by the cold. I can't dig them up and bring them inside. What should I cover them with?

A. First, let me say what you should NOT drape them with: plastic. Plastic does not allow for air or moisture exchange. That may seem like a good thing, but isn't. While plastic will trap heat, it does it too well. When the sun comes out, the air beneath the plastic will heat and your plants will cook. Not only that, moisture will condense under the plastic and likely freeze during the night. Foliage in contact with the plastic and frozen condensation will be damaged.

Though advanced materials are available on the market, you probably don't have time to find and purchase them. So cover your plants with cotton fabric. Old bed sheets will do just fine. They are relatively light weight, so shouldn't mash your plants. But if you're concerned about that, use some tall garden stakes to elevate the sheets above the plants.

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