This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area



December 4, 2013

How and when to protect your plants from frost in Phoenix

Here in the Phoenix, Arizona area, it doesn't snow. But it can get cold. Even though it's a desert, it can get much colder than places like Los Angeles, where the low temperatures there are tempered by the ocean. Here in the desert, there are extremes.

The ability to withstand cold temperatures is determined by how "hardy" the plant is. Yes, that's the word. Hardy. So the best thing to do is to check the hardiness of your plants by identifying them and then going online to find out their hardiness. The information was also on the tag when you bought the plant, but you probably threw that away. No worries, just look it up. It will say that the plant is "hardy to (for example) 32 degrees". If the plant is hardy to the teens, you don't have to worry about covering it up if you live in the Phoenix area. If it's hardy to the 40s, you will definitely want to cover it. This is how you do it:

• Get some old sheets, or go buy some frost cloth at Home Depot. Any old sheets will do. DON'T use plastic, though. After the sun goes down, keep an eye on the overnight temperatures. If the temperature is going to fall below freezing (32), you would be wise to cover your plants.

• Go out and cover your plants when the sun goes down. No, you don't need to do it when the sun is shining, in fact that's bad for your plants. You don't need to wrap them like packages, just flop the sheets over them.

• Take the frost cloth off when the sun comes up.

That's the process. Here in the Phoenix, Arizona area, we can get freezing, and below freezing, temperatures through January. It only happens at night, though. The days warm up nicely. As of this writing, December 4th, it's still too early to put any frost cloth out. However, if you feel nervous, go ahead and do it. It does no harm to the plants. And there have been winters when I have not put out frost cloth on a particular night, and wish that I had!
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