Texas Living

Protect Plants from Cold Snaps

By Brian Kendall 12.21.16

Winter can wreak havoc on flowers and shrubs, leaving your beautiful yard full of Texas sage and crape myrtles bloom-free come spring. But, if you prepare, you can protect your plants from the likes of freezing, damaged leaves, or even death. Here are some tips to help keep your precious plants protected during the colder months.

Feed Them Mulch

One of the best and easiest ways to prevent winter damage to your plants is by mulching. Mulching promotes root growth and keeps the soil’s temperature more consistent. Before winter strikes, replace the old mulch at the base of the plant. We don’t recommend using cocoa hull mulch due its toxicity to dogs. Also, make sure you don’t mulch too much — it’s not recommended to have a layer more than 4 inches, including old mulch — as this can keep water and air from reaching the roots of your plants. For perennials and flower beds, you can lay 6 to 8 inches of wood chip to help these delicate plants survive the winter months.

Tuck Them In

Similar to lying in bed on a cold night, wrapping your plants in a blanket can go a long way toward protecting them through a frigid evening. Unfortunately, there’s no definitive temperature with which you should wrap your plants — different plants freeze and die at different temperatures. However, given the types of plants one usually finds in the Lone State State, it’s a good idea to cover your plants when the mercury falls below freezing (32 degrees). You can pick any unused blanket from your linen closet, so long as it’s large enough to cover the entire plant. Stake the blanket to the soil (do not band it around the plant itself) and be sure to remove it during the daytime.

Avoid Burlap 

According to The Dirt Doctor, while wrapping the trunks of trees in burlap to protect them from sunscald and frost cracking is a common practice, it can actually lead to insects, disease, and freeze injury. Instead, if tree trunk protection is needed against sunscald on thin-barked trees, such as ash, birch, linden, or maple, you can dilute white latex paint (or a color closely resembling the tree bark) with water at a 50-50 ratio and apply this to the trunk of your trees. This is a far more effective way to prevent winter sunscald while repelling unwanted insects.

Spray to Keep Moisture in

Anti-transpirant products — like Wilt-Pruf (available at your local nursery, garden supply store, or Amazon) — help seal in your plant’s moisture before a freeze. You can use anti-transpirant products on live Christmas trees, wreaths, and floral clippings, as well as any plants that might experience transplant shock or winter kill. Wilt-Pruf is FDA-approved for use with edible crops.

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