Protect Your Plants From Extreme Temperatures

Not every plant reacts negatively to cold weather; in fact, some derive benefits from it.

It’s not unusual for plants to bloom out of season, and fruit farmers frequently stress the importance of a specific “chill time” for their crops to enhance the sweetness of the fruits. However, a sudden decrease in temperature, especially when blooms emerge prematurely, can be detrimental to most plants. Gardeners need to understand the impact of cold weather on their plants and be ready for potential consequences.

Impact of Cold Temperatures on Plants:

1. Cellular Freezing: Sudden drops in temperature can lead to the freezing of water within a plant’s cells, causing them to expand and potentially damage the plant internally. Younger plants, lacking the strength and structure to endure this expansion, are particularly vulnerable to such harm.

2. Desiccation: The freezing of a plant and the soil around it externally can result in desiccation, disrupting the plant’s water supply.

3. Enzyme Activity: Low temperatures can decrease plant enzyme activity, hindering nutrient absorption and, in severe instances, leading to stunted growth or the death of the plant.

4. Membrane Fluidity Changes: Changes in the fluidity of cellular membranes, crucial for water flow within plant cells, may occur. Ironically, these membranes are responsible for ensuring responsiveness to milder environmental shifts and promoting growth.

Minimizing Damage and Safeguarding Plants:

1. Avoid Early Morning Sunshine: Place plants away from early morning sunshine, especially in east-facing areas, to prevent rapid defrosting that may lead to limpness.

2. Choose Native Plants & Harden Off: Begin protecting plants right from the planting stage. Gradually acclimate indoor or greenhouse plants to the outdoor cold environment to enhance their tolerance and resilience. Choosing hardy or native plants that are well-suited for the local growing conditions will ensure their health.

Recognizing potential risks and applying protective measures is essential, especially for plants that might misinterpret an early onset of spring. Taking proactive steps, like avoiding early morning sun exposure and choosing suitable plant varieties, empowers gardeners to safeguard their plants from the adverse impacts of frost and cold weather.