Warm days and clear nights increase the risk of frost. As a very general guide, plants with small tough needle like foliage are less susceptible to cold damage than soft leaf varieties.
Tips for protecting plants from frost damage.
- Cover tender seedlings at night with upturned plastic pots.
- Mulch young seedlings with a thick layer of pea hay, Lucerne hay, sugar cane mulch or compost. These mulches will create warmth as they break down keeping soil temperatures slightly higher than if there was no covering on the soil.
- Use Seasol regularly every two weeks throughout the year (30mL per 9 litres of water – standard watering can) can protect soft tender foliage. Frost damage is caused when frozen plant cells thaw out and rupture. With regular use, Seasol can lower the temperature at which plant cells freeze. It’s a bit like antifreeze for your garden, providing plants with a better chance of standing up to frost and colder temperatures.
- Hessian or shade cloth is a cheap temporary cover for large areas.
- Small seedlings can be further protected by pushing a small branch into the soil next to it. The foliage will protect the seedling from the direct cold.
Refrain from pruning plants back hard in autumn as the soft new growth that appears at this time of the year is susceptible to cold damage.