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How to Prepare for Freezing Temps

What to do when the weather forecast includes days below freezing.

  1. Water & Mulch. A plant's best defense against freezing temps is to be well watered and mulched.

  2. Identify Plants that go Dormant. Try not to worry about plants that go dormant. General rule of thumb is that if they are deciduous - aka lose their leaves in the fall - they go dormant for the winter. This includes hydrangeas, fruit trees (not citrus), shade trees, other deciduous ornamentals like Japanese Magnolias. These plants are in a period of dormancy and may even benefit from the cooler temps. There is no need to cover them or worry about them.

  3. Don't worry about Winter Annuals. Winter annuals are built for this! Pansies, snapdragons, kale, cabbage, dusty miller, violas, dianthus... these winter annuals may take a few days to shine again after a hard freeze, but they are made for the cold. You may cover with frost cloth to protect current blooms, but also make sure they are watered in advance of a freeze. If you lose some blooms just give these winter annuals a good "dead heading" and you should expect future blooms from the remaining plant.

  4. Identify Tropical Plants. Most tropical plants will not tolerate freezing. This includes ferns, succulents, and other interior plants you may have had on your patio during the warmer months. These tender plants should be moved indoors.

  5. Decide How to Treat Your Citrus. Citrus does not tolerate freezing temperatures well, especially below 25 degrees for more than 24 hours. Harvest fruit. Move container citrus indoors. Older, more mature citrus can handle a freeze better than younger trees. Use frost cloth to cover where possible. Adding lights for a heat source may help.

  6. Harvest Winter Vegetables. Go ahead and harvest winter vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. The plant will survive the freeze but mature vegetables may suffer.

  7. Use frost cloth to cover remaining shrubs. Akin's carries DeWitt Frost Protection cloth. We were impressed with its durability and effectiveness during our last major freeze event in February 2021.

  8. You can always call Akin's or come by if we can help with any specific plant questions.

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