You get pretty lucky being a gardener in Texas; usually, the temperatures stay above freezing. However, on some rare occasions, the greater Austin area gets an overnight freeze or two. Protecting your non-cold tolerant plants is crucial to their survival through a winter freeze. Cover your plants in a frost cloth, a simple and commonly preferred method. A more serious gardener might build a cold frame or greenhouse, and others might wrap their plants in exterior lights.
A frost cloth doesn’t keep plants from getting rainwater, but when it freezes, the cloth keeps the frost and cold out, (as low as 28 degrees.) You can buy a frost cloth and cut it down to size, or you can use it on big plants/trees; citrus trees. A citrus tree should never be planted outdoors in Texas, but if it has already been placed into the ground, there are ways to keep it from freezing.
A cold frame or small greenhouse is one of the best ways to keep an outdoor planted citrus tree from freezing. A cold frame is a small unheated greenhouse that uses the sun to keep the plants inside warm. A greenhouse is a small glass or clear plastic building that traps the sun’s rays inside to keep the plants warmer. A greenhouse will keep your plants 10-20 degrees warmer and a cold frame will keep plants warmer by 5-10 degrees.
Exterior lights keep your plants warm by using an artificial heat source. Exterior lights work best if you use them in addition to a cold frame or underneath a blanket. During the day, turn the lights off and allow the plant to get fresh air. Only turn the lights on when the risk of a freeze occurs.
Freezing in Texas doesn’t occur more than a few times a year. However, when we do have freezes, it’s important to be prepared. Frost cloth, cold frames/greenhouses, and exterior lights are great ways to keep your plant from freezing and are even better when they are combined. As we continue through the coldest part of winter, be prepared to protect your plants. Round Rock Garden Center is equipped with high-quality frost cloth and knowledge of how to get you through the winter. We’ll see you in the garden.