If you have a green thumb and want to avoid any damage to your plants from the cold, you should prepare ahead of time.
Why you need to prepare
Cold temperatures and frost alone aren’t damaging to plants. However, damage can happen when temperatures drop low enough for ice crystals to form inside plant cells.
These ice crystals are sharp and can puncture cell membranes, which injures or could even kill the plant.
How much you have to prepare ahead of a freeze depends on how cold it is going to get and what kind of plants are in your garden.
How to prepare for the freeze
There are a few ways to protect your plants from an incoming freeze.
The main way is to cover your plants using things like blankets, sheets, or other protective covers.
However, if you use a blanket, you need to make sure it stays dry. According to the Colorado State University Colorado Master Gardener Program, if the blanket becomes wet, it can lead to even cooler temperatures for plants.
Stakes should also be used to keep the material from touching the plant.
There are a few specialized methods of protection, like floating row covers. According to CMG, these lay directly over plants and transmit light, which allows for protection over an extended period.
The plants that benefit most from cover include warm-season vegetables, as well as annuals planted in landscape beds, according to CMG. Depending on how cold it gets, you may want to cover your cold-season vegetables, such as spinach or kale.
A second way to ensure your plants stay protected during a freeze is by giving their root systems enough water, according to CMG.
Trees and shrubs can benefit from this, and many perennials suited for Front Range weather can handle quick temperature swings without being covered if they have enough water.
Root vegetables such as beets and carrots should also be okay without cover, according to CMG.