December 9, 2013
Which plants to protect from frost in Phoenix, Arizona
And if you're wondering what plants to cover when you hear the frost warnings, here is a list of typical plants that I've seen in my neighborhood that get badly damaged by frost:
• Bougainvillea. These beautiful plants are very frost-sensitive. I removed mine a few years ago just because it was so frustrating to being trimming them all summer, and worrying about them all winter.
• Ficus. If you have small ficus trees, they can die from a severe frost. Even big ones can get damaged, and there really isn't a lot you can do to protect them. It really gets too cold here in the Sonoran Desert to plant these beautiful trees, so if you are tempted to get one, don't.
• Dwarf (miniature) Date Palms. Small ones can be easily killed by frost. I've even had some medium-sized ones get killed. The bigger ones will survive, but will lose a lot of leaves.
• Canna, and other tropicals. My elephant ears really don't like cold weather. They haven't been killed by frost, but the plants have been knocked down to the ground.
Going out and covering absolutely everything in your yard isn't necessary. Focus in on the most frost-sensitive plants and care for them. Cover them when the sun goes down, and remove the frost cloth first thing in the morning. Information on how to protect your plants with frost cloths (or old sheets, which I use).
Remember that the worst times for frost is when it's clear and cold. If it's rainy, or cloudy, you don't need to go out there and cover your plants. But when it's a "look, but don't touch night", that is, a night with no clouds, it's a night that you should protect your plants.
By the way, if you didn't protect your plants, and you see frost damage in the morning, leave it alone. Don't be tempted to get out there and do some trimming. Look away. Leave the plants alone. Trimming them right after a frost is usual fatal to plants.
Posted by Brad Hall