UF/IFAS Extension Agent: Help your Plants Survive a Freeze

ORLANDO, Fla. – With cold weather upon us, homeowners may want to prepare their plants for a freeze, said Ed Thralls, a horticulturalist with University of Florida IFAS Extension Orange County.

“There are several steps that homeowners can take if a freeze is predicted,” Thralls said. “You can avoid damaged plants by preparing for weather that is 32 degrees or lower.”

Thralls suggested that before a freeze, you should:

  • Water your plants: This will bring heat into the soil.
  • Cover your plants: Use old sheets or towels to completely cover the plants from the top to the ground. “This traps heat coming from the ground and keeps the plant warm,” Thralls said.
  • Set with soil: Use soil and mulch around the edges to hold the cover down. “Bricks and stone won’t keep the heat in, so it’s better to use soil or mulch,” he said.
  • Move potted plants: Place them in the garage or under benches on the porch. “The closer you move them to the house, the more heat the plants will get,” Thralls said.
  • After the freeze, remove the cover, especially if the freeze is followed by a hot day.

If it’s too late, and your plant has been damaged by a freeze, don’t be in a hurry to prune back the damaged material, Thralls said. The damaged leaves can provide cover for the next freeze event, he said.

“Once freezing weather is over for good, then you can prune the dead leaves,” Thralls said. “You may even want to wait until you see new growth before pruning.”

For more information on how to care for plants before, during and after a freeze, call your local UF/IFAS Extension office. Click here to find your local office.

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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