Frost Blankets for Phoenix Plants
Most newcomers to the valley are surprised that they may need to cover their plants in the winter. Like those of us who have been here for awhile they usually find out watching to the weather one night on TV. The first step is usual heading to home depot or a garden center the next day. It can become frustrating when you get the store and find out they are out of the frost blankets.
Then you start to think what alternatives you can turn to. Maybe you can use sheets, a painter’s drop cloth or even some old towels. I have even heard of people using Christmas lights. I this using the fabrics I mentioned earlier would be fine in a pinch for a night. The next morning they should be removed. Using Christmas lights would depend on what type of lights they were. I really do not think the new led lights that are available today would give off enough heat.
Using plastic of any type could cause harm to the plants. Plastic can damage the plants if left on the next day. What happens is the heat builds up under the plastic and if it touches the leaves they can be scorched. Unlike plastic sheeting, you can leave garden blankets on plants without harming them for a few days at a time. Frost blankets allow light, air and moisture to pass through while avoiding extremes of the weather. If you add rain in to the scenario, things can really go downhill quickly. The lightweight material allows air, water and sunlight through, all of which are vital for plant growth.
With the fabric being so light weight you will need to secure the blankets with some weights or ties. All sides of the frost blanket must be sealed to keep the freezing temperatures outside. Luckily frost blankets are reusable season after season.
Young and newly planted shrubs should be your biggest concern as well as any annuals and vegetables you may have planted. The next plants that should generate some concern to you will be those of the tropical variety. This would include African Varieties also some examples would be Red Hibiscus, Madagascar Palms, Cape Aloe, Bougainvillea, Kangaroo paw, Plumeria but not limited to. If fact I go with the motto, when in doubt cover it up. Do not forget about the citrus trees. Another step to prevent frost damage here is to leave a hose with running water all night at the base of the tree. The water should be set for a slow steady stream of water. You can also fill one or two five gallon containers of water and spill them at the base of the tree. Imagine waiting all year for your oranges or lemons and to have them ruined by frost damage.
Luckily we do not get the hard frost that Tucson. I am sure that some of the outer lying areas of Phoenix like Carefree my get hit from time to time. Actually I remember only a few years ago that Rio Verde had snow. It did not last for long, but for a hard frost it only needs to be below twenty eight degrees for two hours or more.
With all that being said, tonight the weather reports that it is likely we will get a frost. I pulled out my frost blackest this afternoon and began covering my plants.