It's April 16th in Minneapolis, and we just got hit with a brief snow fall. Most of us have yet to plant outdoors, but it's not unusual to get a frost later in the year. Plants can be spendy and time consuming, so it is important to know how to protect your plants from these late frosts to keep them from looking like this:
When the weather forecast warns against a frost, the best thing to do is to cover your plants with a thin linen. This can increase the temperature of your plant's atmosphere by 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed sheets work great, burlap does just fine, and if your in a hurry, plastic will be okay, but plastics will decrease air circulation. They also sell manufactured plant covers for such situations at your local greenhouse or plant supply store. When applying these covers, try to cover the plant so that the least amount of the cover is touching the plant because in the frost, the plant will be coldest where it touches the cover. Stakes may help you accomplish a minimal contact.
Take the covers off of your plants as the sun rises in the morning so that the plants can re-acclimate with the air as it warms up.
Some people, also, like to irrigate before a frost. Because wet soils can stay up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than dry soils, this is also a great way to prevent frost damage.
Don't overlook the situation in the upcoming months. Easily protecting your plants during a frost will allow you to enjoy your green plants longer and save you money, in the long run.