The Q&A Archives: Frost Protection

Question: I have a Tulip Tree, Walking Stick Tree, Weeping Peach Tree and a few rose bushes in containers outside that are starting to bud. We are expecting snow this week and I was wondering if I should try to bring them inside by basement or if I can leave them out. I am worried about frost damage or worse death. We have had a very mild winter up to this point with only a few really cold nights and days. Please advise me as to what I should do. The trees are in 20 gallon containers and they are about 4 feet tall and about 3 years old.

Answer: The problem with bringing them into the basement in January is that the warm indoor temperatures will most likely cause them to bud out. Then you can't really put them back outside, as the buds will be frost-tender. And, staying in the basement for a couple months won't provide them with the light they need. I suggest you protect them from frost by putting them in a garage, or sheltered next to a building out of wind, and cover them with burlap, cloth or frost cloth (don't use plastic) if frost is predicted. If possible, suspend a structure overhead, so that the cloth doesn't touch the foliage, but drapes down to the ground. Don't leave the cloth on permanently, as if it warms up underneath, buds will pop. The idea is to put the cover on at sunset, trapping the day's heat from the ground, and then take it off before temperatures warm up greatly the next day. Good luck!

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