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How to prevent late spring frost damage to plants

Cover Annual Plants to Prevent Frost Damage (1)
Photo by Olbrich Botanical Gardens

MADISON (WKOW) -- Most of Wisconsin will be under either a frost warning or frost advisory this Memorial Day weekend.

Experts gave the greenlight to beginning this seasons planting and gardening, after May 15, believing to have been safe from the frost.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens horticulturist Erin Presley shares some tips for keeping your plants protected from the especially late spring frost this season.

• Cold air sinks to ground level so expect frost to affect lower-lying areas before higher spots.

• Don’t worry about frost damage on existing shrubs, trees, or perennials. Permanent plantings leaf out, develop in sync with variable spring weather conditions, and are likely at a stage where a cold dip shouldn’t damage them. If they do experience mild frost damage, they should have no problem bouncing back.

• Plants recently brought home from a garden center are especially sensitive since they only recently left a cozy greenhouse environment. If you recently purchased plants that are awaiting planting, tuck them into your garage or on a covered porch close to your home overnight.

• Newly planted annuals or vegetables may benefit from covering with fabric row cover meant especially for horticulture use, or even just old sheets or burlap. Throw the fabric loosely over the top, and consider weighing down the corners if conditions look windy. Covering smaller plants with bushel baskets, crates, or pails works too.

• If possible, move containers close together so they can conserve heat as a group.

• Consider covering these especially sensitive plants.

Veggies: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons/squash/cucumbers, and newly sprouted green beans.

Annuals: impatiens, sweet potato vine, tropical plants like elephant ears, caladiums, and bananas.

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Emma Fried

Assignment Editor/ Digital Producer

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