Using Frost Blankets to Protect Your Plants

Meteorologists are predicting an unusually cold winter for South Florida. Now is the perfect time to begin your winterization preparations in order to provide the best plant protection you can. While your plants may have been able to survive on their own in previous mild winters, this year you may want to consider taking extra steps to protect them against Florida frost.

Frost blankets are easy to install and extremely helpful for tropical plants.
frost blankets

How does Frost Kill?

Because we don’t get much harsh weather, the greatest threat to sensitive, heat-loving plants is frost–especially since these species tend to have large, exposed leaves. Big leaves can be severely harmed by even just one night of unseasonably cold temperatures. When frost hits, it freezes individual plant cells and the water they contain. Once they melt, they turn limp and black. Protect your plants from cold snaps with a frost blanket.

What is a Frost Blanket?

Frost blankets were developed to aid plants during frost events. They are made of thin, woven polypropylene material and act as an excellent insulator for plants. Whether you have just a couple plants or large garden beds, frost blankets provide an excellent solution to chilly nights.

How do they work? Though the air is cold, the sun’s energy still reaches the ground. The dark soil in our garden beds absorbs the sun’s energy. As the heat rises, the blanket fibers trap and circulate the warm air around the covered plants. In addition to heat, the blanket also traps moisture to provide the warm, humid environment required by tropical plants.

How to Install Frost Blankets

Frost blankets come in large sections so that you can cut them to size for your specific needs.

  • When you lay it over your plants, be sure not to pull it too tightly. While the blankets are lightweight, they could still bend or break your plants if pulled too tightly. When laying the frost blankets, drape them lightly over your desired plants.
  • If you are covering potted plants, use duct tape to secure the ends of the blanket to the lip of the pot–be sure to enclose the soil along with the plant. If you were to only cover the plant and leave the soil exposed, you would not create enough of a heat bubble to protect the plant from cold.
  • If you are covering a garden bed, use landscaping fabric pins to stake the fabric into the ground around the plants. Again, be conscious that you are not pulling the fabric too tightly over them–they should look like ghosts when you’re done.

The specific weave of your frost blanket will help determine how long you can leave it over your plants. Thicker, more tightly-woven material blankets let light and air through them, but keep the majority of water out. Because your plants can’t access water, you should only leave these blankets on for a couple days at most.

Thinner fabrics that are more loosely woven are able to let water pass through. These frost blankets can be left on plants for a week or more. While it’s very unlikely that will be necessary for us in South Florida, it cuts down on the amount of time you have to spend putting the blankets on and removing them when we experience multiple chilly nights in a row.

Big Earth Landscape Supply has stocked up on frost blankets in anticipation of the cooler season. If you have plants you need to protect throughout the coming months, come in today to get yours.