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Worried about your landscaping this year because of the great Freeze of 2021 

Todd Farber, Aggie Horticulturist, and owner of Garden Guy has also been trying to combat the fear of more freezes when it comes to this year’s winter by arming his clients with the best practices for protecting plants in the Houston- area during a freeze warning.

Free pdf download of this post here: Garden Guy’s Protect Plants Advice

Garden Guy’s Best Practices for protecting plants during a Freeze Warning

  1. Water your plants before freezing temperatures. Your landscaping and plants should be well-watered prior to a freeze event. “Drought-stricken plants do not fare well in freezing temps. Water during the day before the temps drop because water will release heat into the soil,” advises Todd.  
  2. Bring houseplants inside.
  3. Tropical plants are most susceptible to freeze damage.  They may even be damaged before 32°.    Do your best to protect them but know they are tropical in nature.
  4. Christmas lights can be placed around plants to bring the temps up a bit.  Every little bit helps!
  5. MULCH now! Did you know that mulch insulates your plants against the cold?  “During our capricious winter months in Sugar Land and Houston, mulch acts as an insulator for plants. With the wide range of temperature swings that plants and landscaping are subjected to in Texas, it’s important to have mulch to protect your plants in all seasons, advises Todd.”

Temps to Cover Plants?

  1. Cover your plants and landscaping at 32°F and below.  “Real problems for the vascular systems of plants start at 28° and below for more than 5 hours, warns Todd. “
  2. Tropicals are the exception to this rule! Cover them at 50° as a precaution.  Most tropical plants are in danger if the temperature is below 50 degrees.  Almost all tropical plants die once the temperature hits 32 degrees. 
  3. Cover plants before dark to trap warmer air.
  4. Remove covers during the day when the temperatures rise above 32° degrees so that the soil can warm up again.

What type of coverings to use?

  1. Use old towels, sheets, and even blankets to cover landscaping plants. Burlap and frost cloth is good too. Some people like to use cardboard boxes.  Try a local Goodwill for sheets and coverings.
  2. Shrub jackets are pre-made covers for shrubs with a zipper drawstring built right in!
  3. Plankets are excellent too. This is a Plant blanket that helps protect your valuable plants from frost, sleet, snow, and cold winds. It measures 10 feet by 20 feet & covers up to 200 square feet of landscaping it has 14 built-in grommets along the edge to secure it to the ground. 
  4. Drape your coverings over the plants and then down to the soil. Use rocks or some sort of weight to hold the covers over your landscaping.
  5. Randy Lemmon has some tips here: Frost blanket, freeze blanket, row cover, frost protection … whatever you call it … now is the time to pull ‘em out of storage or stock up before we get any real freezing weather or frost.
  6. Prepare for the next freeze with Randy Lemmon’s tips here too! 
  7. Don’t use plastic to cover plants: Plastic that touches plants is even worse than no protection.  Plastic holds moisture against plant tissues and causes more serious freeze damage to the plant.

How to drain irrigation for freezes

Turn off the main valve at the pipe that feeds the vacuum breaker.

Use a flat-head screw driver to open the two knobs that stick out on the side. These are the bleeder valves.
Open all the valves and drain the water from the system.
(This drains the back-flow device.)
Cover this pipe and bell housing with insulation or a towel.

Place a trash bag over the insulation and tape it or tie at the bottom. (secure it)

— now you know–!! Todd Farber, Garden Guy, Aggie Horticulturist + Expert Landscaper

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We hope you find Garden Guy’s best practices for protecting plants in the Houston area during a freeze warning‘ useful for your home landscaping!