Levi Reeves - April 12, 2023
Frost Blankets - The Cold Weather Plant Protector
If you are a plant lover you may be worried about protecting your plants during the harsh winter season. Frost can be a real threat to your plants. It can cause an irreversible damage and sometimes even death of a plant.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution that can protect your plants from the cold - frost blankets.
In this article, we will explore the different types of frost covers, how they work, and tips to use them effectively to safeguard your plants from the severe cold.
What is it?
It is a type of geotextile fabric used to protect plants from frost damage. Typically fairly thin, and white in color.
Why use it?
It's an easy way to protect your plants from frost damage. The blankets keep the air below them higher than outside them, while also allowing air and water through them.
How to install it?
Cover your plant without damaging it, and secure it to the ground with pins,staples, or stakes.
What is a Frost Blanket?
A frost blanket, or a frost cloth or plant cover, is a lightweight fabric designed to protect plants from severe frosts. It acts as a barrier between the plant and the dry cold air thus creating a microclimate that can be several degrees warmer than the surrounding air.
What You Need to Know About Frost and Plant Damage
Let’s explore about frost and plant damage, including how frost damages plants, which plants are most susceptible, and how to protect your plants.
How Does Frost Damage Plants?
Frost damage occurs when the temperature drops below freezing point (32°F/0°C), causing the water in the plant's cells to freeze and expand. This expansion can rupture the plant's cell walls, causing damage to the plant's tissues and inhibiting its growth. The extent of the damage depends on various factors, including the severity.and duration of the frost, the type of plant, and its stage of growth.
Frost damage can affect different parts of the plant, including the leaves, stems, buds, and fruits. The damage can show various signs on a plant, such as wilting, discoloration, blackening, and softening of tissues. In severe cases, the plant may die, especially if the damage extends to the roots or the main stem.
Small Trees Covered in Frost Geotextile Fabric
Frost Protection in Garden
What are the Symptoms of Frost Damage on Plants?
Frost damage on plants can manifest in various ways, depending on the severity of the frost, the type of plant, and its stage of growth. Here are some common symptoms of frost damage on plants:
- Wilting: Frost damage can cause the plant to wilt, as the frozen tissues can no longer support the plant's weight. This symptom is especially common in herbaceous plants such as annuals, which have soft, succulent tissues that are more susceptible to damage.
- Discoloration: Frost-damaged leaves and stems may turn black, brown, or yellow, indicating that the tissues have died. This discoloration can be patchy or uniform, depending on the severity of the frost.
- Softening: Frost damage can cause the tissues of the plant to become soft and mushy, as the cell walls break down. This symptom is especially common in fruits such as tomatoes and cucumbers, which have high water content and are more susceptible to damage.
- Stunted growth: Frost damage can inhibit the growth of the plant, especially if the damage occurs during the early stages of growth. This can result in stunted or deformed leaves, stems, and fruits.
- Delayed flowering or fruiting: Frost damage can delay the flowering or fruiting of the plant, as it takes time for the plant to recover from the damage. This can reduce the yield of crops such as strawberries, blueberries, and grapes.
Which Plants are Most Susceptible to Frost Damage?
Different plants have varying degrees of resistance to frost damage. However, generally, tender plants with thin or fragile leaves are more susceptible to frost damage than hardy plants with thicker, waxy leaves. Some examples of plants that are highly susceptible to frost damage include:
- Annual flowers such as impatiens, petunias, and marigolds
- Tender vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants
- Citrus trees and other fruit trees such as avocados and mangoes
- Succulent plants such as cacti and agave
- Herbs such as basil, mint, and parsley
It's important to note that even hardy plants can suffer.frost damage if the temperature drops low enough. However, hardy plants are better equipped to handle frost and may recover more quickly from damage than tender plants.
Plant with Snow Surrounding
Frost Protection Fabric Over Plant
What is the Temperature Threshold for Frost Damage to Occur?
Ground frost occurs when the temperature of the ground falls.below the freezing point of 32°F (0°C), and air frost occurs when the temperature of the air falls below freezing point. Strong winds make frost more damaging, particularly to evergreen foliage, causing leaf browning at the tips and margins due to moisture loss.
How Can I Protect my Plants From Frost Damage?
Plants can be protected from frost damage by covering them with frost covers, using mulch, or bringing them indoors.
Can Frost Damage be Reversed, or is it Permanent?
Frost damage is often permanent, but the extent of the damage depends on the severity of the frost.
How Long Does it Take for Plants to Recover From Frost Damage?
The recovery time for plants after frost damage can vary from a few days to several weeks, depending on the extent of the damage.
Plant with Snow on Branches
Frost Protection Geotextile Texture
Is it Possible to Avoid Frost Damage Altogether, or is it Inevitable in Colder Climates?
There are several ways to prevent or minimize frost damage to your plants. Mulching is a popular method as it acts as an insulator, reducing heat loss and preventing the soil from freezing. This helps protect the roots of plants and enables them to keep growing even during cold weather. Another effective way is to cover your plants with lightweight sheets before the temperature drops to freezing point. These covers should be removed in the morning so that the sun can warm up the plants.
How Frost Protection Fabrics Work to Protect Plants
Frost protection coverings improve soil temperature and prevent freezing by acting as an insulating layer, trapping heat radiated from the soil and preventing it from escaping into the air. This insulation helps to maintain a stable soil temperature and prevent the formation of frost on the surface. This is particularly important for plant roots, which can be damaged by freezing temperatures.
Benefits of Frost Protection Fabric
In addition to preventing frost damage, using frost protection cloth can provide several other benefits to plants, these include:
- Protecting plants from wind damage
- Reducing water loss through evaporation
- Preventing damage from pests and birds
- Helping to extend the growing season by providing a warmer microclimate for plants
- Reducing the need for watering and other maintenance tasks, saving time and effort for gardeners
Plants Covered in Frost
Leaves with Frost on Them
Applications of Frost Protection Cloth
When to use a Frost Barrier Fabric?
It is recommended to use frost barrier fabric during early and late growing seasons when plants are still vulnerable to frost damage. During these times, sudden temperature drops can occur, causing severe damage to the plants.
In addition to protecting plants from frost damage, frost barrier fabric can also be used to extend the growing season by retaining heat and keeping the soil warmer. This can be particularly beneficial for early and late season crops, as well as for gardeners who live in colder climates.
Where should you use frost protection fabric?
Frost protection cloth can be used in various settings, including outdoor gardens, greenhouse gardens, and nurseries. They can be used to protect plants.such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, and shrubs.
Types of Frost Protection Coverings and their Specific Functions
There are several types of frost protection fabric available on the market. Each type of fabric has its own specific function and is designed for different applications. Some of the common types of frost protection coverings are:
Commercial Frost Cloth
Commercial frost cloth, also known as frost cloths, are specialized fabrics designed for plant protection during frost events. They are made of synthetic materials such as polypropylene, polyester, or polyethylene.
Frost Protection over Row Crops
Snow in Front Yard
Commercial frost barriers come in various weights, ranging from lightweight to heavy-duty, and each weight is suitable for different frost protection needs. The weight of the frost barrier fabric determines the level of protection it provides against frost. The heavier the weight, the more protection it provides.
These blankets are typically available in different sizes and shapes, including rolls, sheets, and custom sizes, to fit different plant types and garden sizes. Commercial blankets are designed to be durable and reusable, making them a cost-effective solution for protecting plants from frost.
When using commercial frost coverings, it is important to secure them tightly around the plants to prevent them from blowing away or shifting during high winds. Some commercial frost blankets come with grommets or ties that make it easy to secure them to the ground or garden stakes.
What are the Different Weights of Frost Covers?
Commercial frost cloth come in various weights and thicknesses, which determine their insulation properties. The most common weights of blankets are 0.5 oz., 1 oz., 1.5 oz., and 2 oz.
Bed Sheets and Blankets
When using bed sheets or blankets as a frost protection cover, it is important to make sure they are made of breathable materials like cotton or linen to prevent the accumulation of moisture under the cover. Heavy materials like wool or polyester can trap moisture and cause damage to the plants.
One advantage of using bed sheets or blankets is their availability and affordability. They can be easily found in most households, and they are typically cheaper than commercial frost protection fabric. Downside is that they may not be as durable and long-lasting.
Frost Protection Blankets on Trees
Canvas is a natural and heavy-duty fabric that can be used as a frost protection blanket for plants. It is breathable, allowing moisture to escape and preventing fungal diseases. Canvas blankets are available in different weights and provide varying levels of insulation and protection. To use a canvas frost protection blanket, drape it over the plants and secure it in place with stakes or clips, and remove it during the day to allow sunlight and air circulation. After the growing season, canvas blankets should be cleaned, dried, and stored properly for future use.
Tarps are heavy-duty waterproof covers made of durable materials like polyethylene, canvas, or PVC. They are commonly used for various outdoor applications, including covering and protecting plants from frost damage. Tarps can be effective in.providing a barrier against cold temperatures, but they may not be as breathable as other materials, which can result in excess moisture buildup and potential plant rot.
Greenhouse plastic is a type of plastic sheeting that is often used to cover and protect plants in greenhouses. It is lightweight, durable, and has good insulation properties, making it a popular choice for frost protection. Greenhouse plastic can be purchased in different thicknesses and grades, depending on the level of protection needed.
Floating Row Covers
Floating row covers are lightweight, permeable fabrics that are used to cover plants and protect them from frost damage. They are usually made of polyester or polypropylene and can be swathed over plants or supported by hoops or other structures. Row covers also offer protection from pests and wind, while allowing air, light, and moisture to pass through. They are a cost-effective solution for small-scale gardens and farms.
Plants Covered in Frost Protection Geotextile
How to Install Frost Protection Cloth
Installing frost protection cloth can be a simple and effective way to protect your plants from frost damage. However, proper preparation and installation are key to ensuring that the blankets provide adequate protection. Here are some tips for installing this geotextile:
Preparation and Planning Before Installing Frost Protection Covering
- Determine the size and shape of the area you need to cover, and choose the appropriate size of frost protection blanket.
- Clear away any debris or dead plant material from the area where you will be placing the blanket.
- Water the plants thoroughly before covering them with the blanket to ensure that the soil is moist.
The Step-by-Step Process for Installing Frost Protection Fabric
- Unroll the blanket and drape it over the plants you want to protect.
- Secure the blanket in place using stakes or clips, making sure that it is snug and doesn't leave any gaps where cold air can seep in.
- For extra insulation, you can layer additional blankets over the first layer, but make sure that they are anchored securely and don't touch the plants directly.
- If you are using a heavy blanket that is difficult to maneuver, you can use a frame or support system to hold the blanket in place over the plants.
Tips for Ensuring the Effectiveness of Frost Protection Fabric
- Make sure that the blanket covers the plants completely and doesn't leave any gaps where cold air can get in.
- Avoid letting the blanket touch the plants directly, as this can cause damage to the foliage.
- Remove the blanket during the day to allow the plants to receive sunlight and air circulation.
- Check the blanket periodically to make sure that it is still secure and hasn't shifted or blown away in windy conditions.
- After the growing season, clean and store the blankets properly to ensure that they are in good condition for the following year.
Frost Protection Covering in Garden
Maintenance and Storage of Frost Protection Fabric
Once the frost season is over, it's important to clean and store your frost protection cloth properly so they can be used again next year. Here are some tips for maintenance and storage of frost protection cloth:
- When to remove frost protection fabric: Once the danger of frost has passed, it's time to remove the fabric. Leaving them on too long can create a humid environment that can lead to mold and mildew growth.
- How to remove the blankets: Carefully remove the stakes or clips holding the blanket in place, taking care not to damage the plants. Then, gently fold or roll the blanket, taking care to avoid wrinkles that could damage the fibers.
- Cleaning: Before storing the frost protection cloth, it's important to clean them. Canvas and heavy-duty blankets can be hosed off, while lightweight blankets can be washed in a washing machine. Allow the blankets to air dry completely before storing.
- Storage: Store your frost protection fabric in a dry, cool location away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing them in damp basements or attics where mold and mildew can grow. If possible, store them in airtight containers to keep out dust and pests.
- Inspection: Before using the fabric again, inspect them for any signs of damage or wear. Replace any damaged blankets before using them to ensure their effectiveness in protecting your plants.
Flowers in Cold and Snowy Weather
Answers to Common Questions on Frost Protection Coverings
Can you leave blankets on during the day?
If it is sunny outside, it is recommended to remove fabric during the day.
Can shade cloth be used as frost cloth?
Shade cloth can be used as frost cloth, but it may not provide as much protection as specialized frost cloth.
Can you use plastic to cover plants from frost?
Plastic can be used to cover plants from frost, but it should be anchored securely to prevent damage from wind.
Do I need to remove the blanket in snowy weather?
It is not necessary to remove the frost fabric in snowy weather as long as it is anchored securely and not weighing down the plants.
How long can frost protection geotextile be left in place?
Frost protection fabric can typically be left in place for a few days to a week.
What is the difference between frost protection cloth and geotextile fabrics?
Geotextile fabrics are typically used for erosion control and soil stabilization, while frost cloths are specifically designed to protect plants from frost damage. Frost Protection Blankets are typically thinner and in white as well.
Can frost protection blankets be reused?
Frost protection fabric can be reused if they are properly cleaned, dried, and stored.
In conclusion, frost cloth can be an effective tool for protecting plants from the damaging effects of frost. By understanding the types of blankets available and how to properly install and maintain those, gardeners can help ensure the survival of their plants during cold weather conditions.
We recommend using frost coverings in colder climates or during unexpected cold snaps to provide an extra layer of protection for your plants. Frost coverings are affordable, easy to use, and can provide significant benefits in terms of plant health and yield.