Believe it or not, but Souther Ontario weather is considered unpredictable by many garden professionals—especially in the spring.
One day we can be enjoying an early warm spell, when out of nowhere comes a frost warning. If you have plants in your garden or around your home, you need to be prepared.
Here’s what you need to know.
The conditions for frost are as follows; clear skies, no wind and temperature around zero Celsius.
In the spring pay close attention to weather forecasts—particularly if you have plants outside that have never been exposed to the elements before.
To avoid the risk of frost damage in early spring, try not to begin your indoor planting too early.
Any plants that are going outside should be “hardened off”. This means to slowly acclimatize transplants to gradually decreasing temperatures and higher light levels in order to prepare them for their new home outside. Properly hardened off plants will not experience nearly as much shock as those that have not been hardened off, and frost damage may only be cosmetic.
Preventive Garden Maintenance
If you are reading this blog there is a good chance you didn’t take any preventive measures to protect your garden from the frost.
If this is the case you now have to do the best you can to minimize the extent of damage to your tender plants.
Obviously, if your plants are not planted yet or are not out of their containers, you can simply move them indoors or to a sheltered location away from the cold (freezing western or northern exposures).
On the other hand, if your plants are already in the ground make sure they are well irrigated. Plants that are on the dry side are often more vulnerable to frost.
When covering your plants, use a drop cloth or some other natural fibre.
Do not drape plastic directly on your plants!
If you must use plastic you have to provide some sort of framing in order to leave air space between the the plastic and the foliage.
Furthermore, pay particular attention to low lying areas, as these places are more frost prone.
If you live in a wide open rural area (Woodstock I’m talking to you) frost is more common than in built-up urban areas. Trees and/or buildings offer minimal frost protection, so keep any eye on your surroundings.
Frost can also hurt established perennials or shrubs also. If we had a period of unseasonably warm weather and get a lot of soft new growth this too could be susceptible to frost damage, even a winter hardy species that just came from a store that hasn’t been hardened off. Protect these also in the same way described above.
How To Revive Frost Damaged Plants
If you failed to protect your vulnerable plants from the frost, there is still something you can do.
Early in the morning (around sunrise), water your plants with a hose just as the frost is starting to form. You might have to give several irrigations if frost continues to form, but this will alleviate damage.
As always if you have more questions contact us at the garden centre.