How to protect your plants for the hard freeze

SAN ANTONIO – Our KSAT meteorologists forecast that arctic air will arrive in San Antonio early Sunday, with freezing temps sticking around through mid-week.

Gardening with KSAT’s Sarah Acosta takes us through how you can best protect your plants.

Don’t prune your plants

Since our plants think it’s spring, many are blooming right now. Don’t prune them, as the freeze will naturally kill the blooms and leaves, protecting the plants’ roots. You don’t want to shock them right before the temperatures drastically drop.

Covering you plants

As for what to cover and what not to cover, since it will be freezing for a couple of days straight, I would cover as much as possible. Even though winter veggies can handle light freezes, I recommend covering them since this is a long, hard freeze.

I found covering my perennial beds with cardboard during the 2021 freeze saved most of my established plants, especially the native plants.

You can also cover your plants with frost cloth, old sheets or thick blankets. Just stay away from plastic, as it can burn your leaves.

For extra protection, you can rake or blow all those leaves that have fallen onto the beds of your plants.

Moving some plants indoors

Potted and tropical plants should be moved inside and placed near a window for light since they will be inside for a few days.

If you are like me and move them into your garage but fear they need some light, invest in a $16-$20 UV lamp. They come with timers, and you can find them on Amazon and hardware stores.

Bushes and shrubs

Cover your rose bushes as a precaution, but if they are large and established like mine, for the most part, they should come back in the spring after they die. My Peggy Martin climbing roses survived and thrived after the 2021 freeze.

If you have other shrubs too large to cover, water them well and cover the roots with leaves or mulch. They might die back if they are large and well-established, but the shrubs will most likely come back in the spring, especially if they are native.

Sago palms

Unless you just planted them this year, don’t worry about covering your Sago palms. Sago palms will come back and don’t need to be covered. My Sago palms also came back after the 2021 freeze.

Water before the freeze

Most importantly, give all your plants a good deep watering on Saturday before the freeze. It will keep the roots nice and warm.

If you have a specific question, reach out to Sarah Acosta via email at sacosta@ksat.com or on her Instagram page @sarahpacosta, and she will try her best to answer or ask an expert in our area.

Here’s the good news. Nature is resilient. You’ll be surprised what survives and comes back in the spring. Happy gardening!

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