DIY Frost Protection for Plants – 5 Ways to Save Your Plants

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Luckily other gardeners often watch out for one another – my neighbor just asked me about the impending cold weather and how to protect plants from frost. As I prepare my own gardens, I am happy to share my tips on DIY frost protection for plants, both annuals and perennials.

Every time the big frost rolls around, I again ask myself – WHY – why do I live in a climate that gets so cold for so much of the year. I’m not really a good cold person, and neither are my plants. I guess it’s just because this is where my parents, and their parents, put down roots.

Hot Pink Zinnia Flower with Crystalline Layer of Frost
Hot Pink Zinnia Flower with Crystalline Layer of Frost, 2022

I still dream of living in a climate further south, near the beach, where I can enjoy and stretch gardening a few extra months out of the year. Hopefully that is part of my story in the future.

For now, I have to get to work on some DIY frost protection for plants.

1. Frost Blankets

Drape frost blankets over your flower beds or veggie gardens in the hopes of fending off the frost or freeze.

You can use row covers or tomato cages to support the plants so they don’t suffer damage to their foliage and stems.

Set up the frost cloth before it gets dark so you can easily attach and secure the cover. Keep in mind if the wind is expected to be strong during this time and plan accordingly.

Frost blankets from Amazon for the garden
Frost blankets from Amazon for the garden

2. Frost Covers – Fabric or Plastic

Make your own plant covers with frost protection fabric. You can use sharp scissors to cut the frost fabric to any desired length. If you’re handy with a sewing needle, you can even create your own frost covers by sewing the fabric to a frame of some sort.

3. Upside-Down Buckets & Pots

Place pots and buckets on top of smaller sensitive plants that may suffer or die due to frost.

Small zinnias and other low growing flowers would fit well within a 5-gallon bucket or maybe even a 2-gallon flower pot.

Cover Zinnias with a bucket to prolong their life when frost arrives
Cover Zinnias with a bucket to prolong their life when frost arrives.

4. Plastic Covering / Row Covers

Alternatively, you can use plastic sheeting to cover plants as well. Hook up the plastic to row covers to create a type of greenhouse effect.

Cut the plastic to the desired length and secure it to the ground using bricks, heavy stones, or landscape staples. Connect the plastic to the hoops using plant clips.

Frost on a yellow sunflower blossom
Frost on a yellow sunflower blossom

5. Dig & Bring Pots in the Garage

Dig up favorite plants and bring them indoors to protect from frost. You can overwinter peppers, dahlias, cannas, and other tender perennials indoors and replant in spring.

Also, if the weather warms up again, you can bring your plants outdoors after the cold temperatures subside.

Frost Protection Video –

See How My Frost Blankets & Covers Worked Out!!!

This is my exact frost blanket from Amazon! I love it and highly recommend it for extending your gardening season and bloom time for your flowers.

(The leaf bag is also amazing! The camo one I have is unavailable, but these look very similar!)

Which plants need protection from frost?

Tropical plants should come indoors prior to frost. Most annual plants decline or die back after freezing temperatures. Perennials may go dormant while tender perennials may die completely during a big freeze.

Impatiens with frost in October 2022
Impatiens with frost in October 2022

Plan to overwinter dahlias and other tender perennials. Bring in favorite plants and consider covering important gardens prior to frost to stretch the growing season.

Impatiens and other tender annuals will likely succumb to the first frost. Some hardier plants like zinnias may survive slightly longer, although they too will ultimately die back after a significant frost.

Will zinnias survive a light frost?

During the first fall frost of 2022, our temps got down to 34 for an hour or so in the early morning. I worried about my zinnias and dahlias but they did bounce back just fine.

Hot pink zinnia looks like it's coated in sugar
This frost-covered hot pink zinnia looks like it’s coated in sugar.

The latest forecast showing three days of 34 or 33-degree lows has me thinking this is it for the season.

Although my zinnias survived the past 34-degree frost, I am going to take precautions to protect them from frost or bring some inside.

Protecting Plants from Frost

At a moment’s notice, you can use blankets, sheets, flower pots, and items around your house or garage for plant frost protection. Sometimes frost sneaks up without warning!

For a proactive approach to frost defense, consider getting frost blankets or fabric and creating a protective system that works for your plants and gardens. (This is the frost blanket I purchased and will try for the first time this fall.)

Stunning pink zinnia with frosty edges
Stunning pink zinnia with frosty edges

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Do you have any other tips on great ideas for DIY frost protection for plants? Please share in our comments below or feel free to ask any questions you may have.  

Happy Gardening!

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