GEORGE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) – With the first cold snap of the season and record low temperatures forecasted for parts of the Gulf Coast, plants could be at risk for damage.
Mississippi State University Extension Service advises taking a few preventative measures:
- Move container plants indoors or cover them. Container plants are more susceptible to damage as the roots are above ground. If they must be kept outside, wrap the pots in plastic, burlap, or blankets and cover the tops to reduce heat loss.
- Apply a layer of mulch to the soil to help protect plants’ roots and reduce heat loss during freezing temperatures.
- Coveryour plants with sheets or blankets to help keep heat in. Remember to remove coverings when the cold weather has passed.
Preventive measures during planting include:
- Purchase plants that can tolerate the cold temperatures in the area. Along the Gulf Coast, there are three different USDA Cold Hardiness Zones. When selecting plants, look on the tag to make sure they meet the minimum cold-hardy requirements for the area to prevent cold temperature injuries.
- Place tender plants in the warmest areas of the yard. In general, the coldest areas are on the north parts of a property and the warmest are on the south. Tender plants will do best during cold temperatures if planted on the south side of a property, near a house, or next to larger plants.
- Fertilize plants throughout the year to help them withstand the winter months. Plants that get proper nutrition can withstand temperature drops better than those that do not receive proper care. Healthy plants also can recover from damage better than those that have been neglected.
More advice for caring for plants and crops in a specific area can be shared by a local county extension office:
- Alabama Cooperative Extension System
- Florida Cooperative Extension Service
- Mississippi State University Extension Service