How to Protect Your Plants from Frost in Austin

Who would ever think it’s important to install frost tolerant plants in Central Texas? Normally, we get a few days of cold weather and most plants make it through just fine, except for the "annuals". Those we would expect to replace every year.

The perennials that we usually install can make it through most of our winters, but worse case scenario, they get cut back and then will spring back when the weather warms up. There are good ways to protect your landscape investment, given a normal winter.

Frost Protection for Plants

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1. Mulching

The first thing we always recommend for frost protection is ensuring that you have a good layer of mulch around your plants and tree root balls. This provides an insulating blanket over the roots of the plant, which won't help protect the foliage but will certainly help protect the roots from being damaged.

2. Watering

Thoroughly water the ground before a forecasted freeze. This will help insulate the plant and keep moisture flowing through the leaf material. It is best to water early in the day so that the plants have time to absorb the moisture before the colder evening temperatures set in.

3. Frost Covers

The next step is to protect your plants with a suitable frost covering, which can help trap the heat from the ground. There is double layer or quilted materials available that are made specifically for covering plants. This may not keep the plants warm, but can help moderate the temperature from dipping too low. The material needs to be breathable to prevent a condensation build up under the covering. Do not put plastic directly onto plants as this can damage them.

4. Bring Potted Plants Indoors

Whether into the house, garage, or an outdoor shed, indoor locations help to protect the plants to a certain degree. The best option would be moving plants into a warm area; but if that is not possible, then an outdoor shed or similar will help protect plants from damaging winds, cold weather, and frost.

Will My Plants Recover from a Texas Frost?

Unfortunately, there is a limit to what plants can endure. This past Austin winter storm of 2021 is a good example. It got too cold for too long and many people lost plants, which normally would have done fine through most winters.

  • Despite severe leaf burn, as long as the roots were adequately insulated, then the plants may bounce back in the spring.
  • Give the freeze-damaged plants a chance to recover. After March 21st, it is usually safe to assume we won't get another frost, so this is a good time to cut back freeze-damaged foliage.
  • After a few weeks of warmer weather, you should see new buds developing on your plants. If the plants still look dead, then scratch the stem with a finger nail and see if there is still green and signs of life under the bark. If there is, then it needs more time and it may well recover.

Should I Replace My Dead Plants?

The big question is, "should I replace my expensive plants that froze in this last storm?" The answer is yes.

We may never have another storm like the one we just experienced. It's definitely worth putting your favorite plants back in the garden to enjoy for many more years. During your estimate appointment or regular service visit, our landscape team will inspect your property and find the plants that survived.

YardDoc can also be a resource to help you make more durable plant choices in the future. Contact us for mulching, sprinkler system repair, and other lawn care or landscaping services before the start of winter.

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YardDoc landscaping and lawn care service area involves all of Travis County including Austin, Barton Creek, Bee Cave, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Lakeway, Leander, Lost Creek, Pflugerville, Rollingwood, Round Rock, Spanish Oaks, Spicewood, Steiner Ranch, Tarrytown, and West Lake Hills.