The Q&A Archives: late frost

Question: How do I protect my flowers from late frost tonight (Northern & Central Midwest).

Answer: Here are a few things you can do to protect your plants:
Water the garden thoroughly before nightfall. The soil will release moisture into the air around your plants during the night, keep the air somewhat warmer.

Even a slight breeze will prevent cold air from settling near the ground during the night. You can help keep frost from forming by providing this breeze artificially with an electric fan. Be sure to protect the fan and all electrical connections from water and the elements.

Cover up before dusk! By the time it gets dark much of the stored heat in the garden has already been lost. If you have time, build a simple frame around the plant, or row of plants. (Even a single stake can be used in many cases.) Then drape a cover of newspaper, cardboard, plastic tarps, bed sheeting or any other lightweight material over the frame to create a tent. If you don't have time to create a frame, lay the protective cover directly onto the plant. This will help to slow the loss of heat rising from the foliage and the ground. Remove the covers in the morning, once the frost has thawed, to let the light and fresh air back in, and to prevent overheating by the sun.

For smaller individual plants you can use glass jars, milk jugs with the bottom removed, paper cups, or upside down flower pots as heat traps. Don't forget to remove these covers in the morning.

Best wishes with your garden!

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