Remember Your Plants Outside During Cold Snap

With the freezing nights and the cold weather just gearing up, what advice does a local nursery have to maintain your outdoor plants?

It's already been in the lower 30s, and a cold north wind made it feel even colder in some areas with wind chills in the 20s. We know then, it's time to bundle up and protect exposed plumbing, but should the same precaution be given to
plants? Chris Weatherford is the manager of the Houston Garden Center on the West Loop.

"If its gonna get below freezing, you should definitely have stuff over your patio. Anything on your patio, you might want to get some freeze cloth for that. Other than that, your shrubbery and stuff like that, we still haven't seen extensive freezing for the period of time that would take to get where we got last year, where we had a lot of problems for so many hours below freezing. But with it like it is right now, there's not much that the homeowner would need to worry about, other than stuff that's on their patio."

For cold-sensitive outdoor plants, Weatherford says to put down some extra mulch, in addition to covering them with a cloth fabric of some kind to shield the plants from wind and frost.

PH : "So, the tell tale sign of something that's gonna significantly affect your tender vegetation would be what?"

Weatherford :  "Extended period of time below freezing. If you have a temperature thats below 32 for many hours, then you've got a problem. That's when you definitely need to be getting some freeze cloth, anything that you can do to cover those plants, get them out of the wind and warm them up as much as possible."

Don't use plastic because when the sun comes out it could "bake" your plants. Water your plants before the next freeze to keep them from going into stress. I talked to some of Weatherford's patrons like Rick & Celia Stewart, to see if they
protected their plants from Tuesday's cold snap.

"No, our backyard's enclosed enough that generally between the pool and house, it generates enough heat, unless it gets quite a bit colder than this."

PH: "Was this past cold snap something that plant lovers should have been worried about, do you think?"

Stewart: "Well, I didn't think it was gonna be, but it got colder than what I'd originally heard, and stayed cold longer. So yeah, probably. Yeah, but we've lost a lot of plants. Last year was a really bad year, we lost most of the pot plants you know, and sometimes you just go out, I let them freeze back, and either grow out next year, or plant new ones."

If you want to avoid buying new plants during a freeze, experts say look no further than the linen closet, but stick with cloth. As plant manager Chris Weatherford likes to remind his customers.                                          

"You know, you gotta remember the three P's: pets, plants and pipes.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...