As autumn gives way to winter, gardens are in for a frosty reception, so now is a good time to take some preventative action to protect frost-tender and cold-sensitive plants from damage.
In some regions frost is a common occurrence during winter, which can result in damage or death of some plants.
Be sure not to remove any parts of the plant that's been damaged by frost as this will only expose it to further damage when the next frost comes.
Leave damaged foliage, as it will provide some protection to the reminder of the plant.
Wait until late in the season to start trimming back any damaged plants when the incidence of frost has passed and signs of new growth begin, in most areas this will be in early September.
Local knowledge plays a big part when planning for frost as damage can be avoided with consideration to the microclimate of your garden.
Keep in mind that the north-facing areas of the garden are the warmest and these are the best locations for planting frost-sensitive plants.
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Avoid planting frost-tender plants in low-lying areas and large open areas as these are zones where cold air will sink, damaging your tender plants.
Planting under eaves or using the protection of the canopy of evergreen trees is an effective way of sheltering smaller plants from frost damage.
For sensitive containerised plants move them into these areas where they will be better protected. Another way to protect plants is by watering them a day or two before the frost is expected. Wet soil will hold more heat than soil that is dry.
There are also products available to assist plants in coping with frost. Scientific studies have confirmed that plants regularly treated with seaweed extracts are more frost hardy than untreated plants.
The use of an anti-transpirant sprayed on the foliage of tender plants is also effective in preventing frost damage as the film left on the surface of treated leaves provides protection.
Protection can also be provided by constructing frames around plants that are likely to be damaged by the cold or frosts. Once supports are in place you can easily throw a piece of cloth or plastic over them in the evening and remove covers in the morning.
For regions where frost may be common know your plant needs - correct selection and culture is your best assurance against losing plants to frosts.
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