Late Frost Happens: How to Help Your Plants

Protect trees, shrubs, flowers and veggies from late spring frosts and freezes with these tried-and-true tips. 

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Winter isn't the only time you need to protect plants from freezes and frosts. Surprise cold temps hit in spring, too. Your last frost date in spring is just a guesstimate based on past experiences, but there are always outliers. (Learn more about spring frost dates here.)

HGTV_flowering-tree-cherry-blossom-flower_s4x3

HGTV_flowering-tree-cherry-blossom-flower_s4x3

Spring bloomers like this cherry will be better able to withstand late frosts if the plants are kept well-watered and mulched. 

Spring bloomers like this cherry will be better able to withstand late frosts if the plants are kept well-watered and mulched. 

When a surprise frost or freeze hits, what do you do? New leaf growth and tender buds can be damaged, so covering your plants with light cloth, like a sheet or, better yet, row cover cloth meant for this purpose, is a good practice. But if you're expecting snow or ice along with those cold temperatures, be sure to prop up that cloth with stakes or some kind of support so that the extra weight doesn't hurt the plant even more.

Frost Defense

Frost Defense

At his farm in Arkansas, gardening expert P. Allen Smith uses row cover cloth to protect tender lettuce leaves from freeze.

Photo by: Image courtesy of P. Allen Smith, photography by Hortus LTD

Image courtesy of P. Allen Smith, photography by Hortus LTD

At his farm in Arkansas, gardening expert P. Allen Smith uses row cover cloth to protect tender lettuce leaves from freeze.

You can also get ahead of the game with a few best practices that will keep plants strong through the hard times, so that even if a late frost damages a few buds, the plant itself will weather the ... weather.

1. Lay On the Mulch.

Mulch improves drainage and protects plant roots, acting almost like insulation. It's really the unsung hero of the garden and landscape, keeping roots and soil warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot weather. >> Discover different types of mulch. 

2. Keep Plants Watered.

A well-watered plant is a stronger plant. Plus, moist soil provides more warmth than dry soil, so even as air temps dip, your soil could stay a little warmer. >> How to water your plants.

3. Water at the Roots.

This is true in all seasons. Watering overhead can cause disease problems as leaves stay wet for too long and allow funguses to grow. Wet leaves and fruits can also freeze. So just keep that hose close to ground level. >> What you should know about your hose.

Refresh Mulch

Refresh Mulch

No matter the season, mulch will help plants withstand harsh conditions.

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Preen

Photo courtesy of Preen

No matter the season, mulch will help plants withstand harsh conditions.

Find more tips and advice from HGTV on your specific frost situation:

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