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How to Protect Plants from Frost

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

Gardening in the zone 3 climate requires a close eye on spring and fall temperatures and a plan on how to protect plants from frost when the unavoidable early and late frost hits. Where I live, I have seen frost damage my spring plants as late as the middle of June. If pants are lost this does not leave enough time for most varieties of vegetables to start over. Here are some great options for how to protect plants from frost during temperature dips.

5 Ideas on How to Protect Plants from Frost During Freezing Temperatures

Select at least one of, or a few of these options to protect plants from frost. If the forecast is even 5 degrees off a frost, I cover my plants.

1. Check the expected low temperatures in your area often.

When you see anything within two degrees of freezing, take measures to protect your plants from frost, to stay on the safe side.

2. Water well late in the afternoon.

Water holds heat and well watered plants are less vulnerable to frost.

3. Cover your plants with large pots or buckets.

Use large plastic plant pots to place over your plants to protect them from frost. Another idea is gallon milk jugs with the bottom cut out and placed over your plants. Try to be careful not to let any of the leaves be touching the plastic.

Using a bucket or upside own pot works to protect plants from frost.  This is just one way how I protect my garden when it freezes.
An upside down pot or bucket can be used to protect plants from frost.

4. Cover with blankets or sheets to protect your plants from frost.

If you have already done step 3, the plastic pots will protect the blanket from crushing your plants. Other options for holding blankets off plants are tomato cages or garden stakes. Don't forget to take the blankets off in the morning once the low temperatures have passed.

5. Bring plants in pots indoors.

If your plants are in a container you are able to move, bring them inside to your house or garage to protect them from frost.

Some also suggest placing a bottle of warm water close to your plants. I have not done this myself as the above measures have always been enough, but if you have plants you are particularly worried about, this extra measure may be beneficial.

How to protect plants from frost during freezing temperatures.

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What Garden Plants are Least Susceptible to Frost?

Not all your garden vegetables will be harmed by a light frost (0°C to -3°C or 32 to 25 F temperatures). Cool hardy plants that can withstand a light frost include:

  • peas

  • radishes

  • carrots

  • beets

  • spinach

  • kale

  • Swiss chard

If the above plants were started indoors and transplanted to your garden in the past two weeks, I would suggest covering them to be on the safe side. If they have grown from seed in your garden they will most likely be fine and will NOT need to be covered during a light frost.

What Garden Plants are MOST Susceptible to Frost?

  • tomatoes

  • peppers

  • squash

  • cucumbers

  • beans

  • basil

These plants are tender and will need to be covered for the duration of the frost risk.

Here is a thermometer from Amazon that will record high and low temperatures. I find this thermometer especially useful in my greenhouse! You can reset the high and low arrows as often as you would like. This cover is useful not only for frost but for keeping bugs off veggies like cabbage and kale.

If you lose some plants to frost and want to replace them with something that grows quickly, select one of these fast growing vegetables.

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How to protect plants from frost and what plants need to be covered when it is going to freeze.


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