Keeping the frost off your flowers in Spring cold snaps

NOW: Keeping the frost off your flowers in Spring cold snaps

Often in Spring, we still experience nights with sub-32° temperatures as we saw this morning with many people waking up to a freeze warning. When this happens, we’ll often see frost form on the grass, our cars, and our gardens - but there’s more to frost formation than just cold temperatures.

There are 3 key factors for frost to form: cold air, clear skies, and calm winds. Temperatures need to be less than 37°, but not exactly freezing. This is because cold air sinks, so a layer closest to the ground could still be freezing even when the air temperature is recorded as above-freezing.

Next up is sky conditions. Clouds often act as a blanket, keeping heat in closer to Earth’s surface, but when skies are clear, heat near the ground rises and escapes into the upper atmosphere. As long as winds are calm, the coldest layer near the ground can stay near the ground, allowing for deposition of supercooled water droplets, thus creating frost.

When frost forms over your garden, it can do some damage to the plants if they aren’t properly prepared or if they aren't resistant to the cold. The first step in preventing damage is to pick cold-hardy flowers and crops such as peonies, pansies, and carrots.

Mark Linton from Linton’s Enchanted Gardens says that it’s also best to hold off on planting anything in the ground until after Mother's Day. If you get your plants in a hanging basket, you can bring them indoors on cold nights to ensure they stay healthy.

If your plants are already in the ground, covering them at night with a plant blanket or some other type of cloth can help to keep heat near the ground. Mulch is also great for insulation, heat and moisture will more easily stay around the roots.

Taking good care of your plants will help your garden to flourish all season long, bringing more color back to Michiana after long, gloomy winters.

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