The Q&A Archives: Preparing For Frost

Question: Many of my houseplants have been outside for the summer. We anticipated completion of a small greenhouse before frost, but it appears that we may have an early frost prior to completion. There really are too many plants to bring in the house. What suggestions do you have for best protecting them outside? Should hanging baskets be set on the ground and loosely covered along with other plants?

Answer: Many houseplants are tropical in origin, so they are sensitive to frost. Try to bring in your most valuable or favorite plants. (You might want to take cuttings from others, just in case.) Put plants in an area that will be protected from wind, and will have residual heat, such as next to a south or west facing wall of your home, in an alcove, etc. Cover with cloth, burlap or frost cloth that can be purchased. Never use plastic. If possible, use some type of supporting system (such as stakes in the pots) to keep the covering from directly touching the foliage. Put the cover on at sunset if frost is predicted and take it off the next morning (assuming temps. warm up). You don't want to leave it on permanently, as it can warm up underneath dramatically and perhaps damage the plants. I would put the hanging baskets on the ground also, to get them out of cold winds. I hope this info helps.

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