By Dominique Silva. Beautiful days, spectacular sunsets and pleasant weather have been plentiful this mild December. But this year’s first freeze early this week is a signal that it’s time to prepare for any hard freezes that may be in store this winter.
A hard freeze is considered 28°F or lower for two hours or more, killing crops and patio plants. Ice can form inside any plumbing exposed to freezing temperatures, causing pipes to burst. You can protect vulnerable pipes with fiberglass pipe sleeves, foam and faucet covers.
Not all plants need protection from a hard freeze, but those grown in containers are especially susceptible since their roots are directly exposed to extreme temperatures. Smaller pots can be moved inside, but for large containers and baskets move them out of the north wind and under overhead cover.
You can protect some freeze-tender plants with cotton sheets, lightweight blankets or cardboard boxes. But don’t rely on plastic, which can worsen cold damage where it touches plants. If you’re covering plants, make sure the sheets reach all the way to the ground and weigh down the corners.
Very small recent plantings that haven’t developed freeze tolerance can benefit from a wrapping of blankets, newspaper and burlap.
In general, tender plants like cannas will need to be cut back after freeze damage. Best practice is to plant them with this in mind, in combination with evergreen shrubs or other features that can conceal freeze damage.
The best landscape plants for the San Antonio climate are freeze-hardy: their roots will survive.
It’s always good to complete these tasks before severe weather approaches. If suppliers run out of inventory in the run-up to a cold snap, you may get stuck using very thick cloth and bubble wrap.
For more tips on preparing your home and property when temperatures tumble, visit saws.org/BeReady.