How To Use Frost Cloth To Protect Plants

How To Use Frost Cloth To Protect Plants

Protect Your Garden From Frost

With warmer weather in the forecast, many gardeners are planning out their vegetable gardens. It’s important to remember that even in spring, there is still the risk of freezing temperatures that can burn tender plants.

There is no need to push back the start of your garden. Instead, we’ll talk about ways to protect your garden plants from cold weather and overnight frosts. In this article, we’ll also talk about a few of our favorite products used for frost protection.

(Featured Image: Garden Frost by R. Hartup)

This post contains affiliate links to our favorite frost protection products. We may earn a small commission if purchases are made through those links.

Will Frost Cloth Protect Plants From Freezing Temperatures?

Frost cloth, also known as row cover or frost blanket, is a lightweight fabric that is used to protect plants from cold temperatures, frost, and insect pests. Frost cloth is an effective and inexpensive way to protect your plants from cold snaps and overnight frosts, without having to move plants inside.

Frost cloth comes in various weights and thicknesses, with lighter weight fabrics providing less insulation and heavier fabrics providing more. It is easy to install and can be draped over plants or secured with stakes or clips.

Tomatoes killed by a heavy frost that were not covered by frost cloth for protection.

Frost Damage on Tomatoes by N. McPhee

Where To Buy Frost Cloth

We love this simple product because it is so easy to use. These plant covers are highly effective at protecting a wide variety of plants from frost. In our experience, we have had good results with this cover on our veggie seedlings, flowers, and mature shrubs. It is lightweight but effective and does not weigh down our more delicate plants.

For a full run down on how to correctly apply this type of frost cloth or frost blanket, check out this guide.

Similar to the plant cover above, this high quality frost cloth does a great job of protecting our plants from both pests and frost. However, this product goes a step above and includes small hoops that create a frame for taller plants. This is the product to get if you plant on starting larger seedlings in the spring that need to be protected from the weight of the cover. We love this freeze kit to protect our blueberry plants from frost in the spring.

One downside of this product that we have noticed from our use of it is the fact that the additional height is only good for smaller seedlings. In our experience, tomato and pepper plants often outgrew the height of this frame before it was safe to remove!

This is our absolute favorite product when it comes to frost protection. If you are starting with a smaller section of seedlings, this greenhouse can likely protect most of your plants early on. We have used this both in our garden and on our deck to cover our strawberry container garden. It is portable, durable, and effective.

This is our top choice for frost protection – we have used our mini greenhouse for several years despite also having large greenhouses now! Our opinion on this greenhouse is that it is favorable for it’s portability. One downside that we’ve noticed is this greenhouse tends to be susceptible to being carried away by the wind! Make sure you weigh it down if using on a deck like we did!

How Frost Cloth Protects Plants

Frost cloth protects plants from cold temperatures in a few different ways:

  • Insulation: Frost cloth traps a layer of air between the fabric and the plant, which provides insulation to keep the plant warm. The fabric also prevents warm air from escaping away from the plant, which helps to maintain a warmer microclimate around the plant.
  • Wind Protection: Frost cloth can also protect plants from the drying and damaging effects of wind. By reducing the amount of wind that reaches the plant, it helps to prevent moisture loss and drying out of the plant.
  • Sunlight: Frost cloth can also protect plants from the sun’s rays. This can be particularly important during early spring, when plants may be susceptible to sun-scald due to the combination of cold temperatures and strong sunlight.
  • Pests: Frost cloth can also protect plants from insect pests, such as aphids, which are often attracted to the new growth on plants during early spring. By creating a physical barrier between the plant and pests, it helps to prevent damage to the plant.

Overall, frost cloth helps to create a warmer, more protective environment around the plant, which can help to prevent damage and promote healthy growth.

Advantages Of Covering Plants With A Tarp

Covering plants with tarp or cloth can offer more than just frost protection. Some covers can offer protection from birds who like to use freshly planted gardens as a bird feeder. Seeds and seedlings are a favorite food source of our feathered friends in the spring, so it is important to discourage them from visiting your plants.

Plant covers can also help keep soil moist during the seedling stage. Seeds require moist soil to germinate, and any dryness can often render seeds useless. Most frost cloths are made from materials that allow good airflow to prevent mold and mildew.

What Are The Limitations Of Frost Cloth?

Frost cloth is a very helpful tool for extending the growing season of gardeners and farmers. However, this tool does have some limitations. Frost cloth is perfect for protecting smaller plants from light frosts during the spring season. Once plants are larger, the cloth can damage the stem.

One solution to this is to use chicken wire as a frame under the frost cloth. This will protect the plants from frost damage, while ensuring their vegetation is not weighed down by the row cover. You can also utilize a frost cloth that comes with hoops for support. Milk jugs can also be a good cover for plants over 1-2 feet tall.

How To Use Frost Cloth

Here are some general steps to follow when using frost cloth to protect your plants:

  • Choose the Right Fabric: Select the appropriate weight and type of covering for your plants and the weather conditions in your area. Thicker and heavier materials provide more insulation, while lighter fabrics are better for milder weather or for allowing more sunlight to penetrate.
  • Install the Plant Cover: Unroll the cloth and drape it over your plants, making sure to cover them completely. You can secure the edges of the fabric with rocks, soil, or garden staples to keep it from blowing away.
  • Leave the Cover in Place: Keep the frost cloth in place until the danger of frost has passed, or until temperatures are above freezing. You can also remove the covers during the day if temperatures are warm enough to prevent frost damage.
  • Remove the Frost Cloth: When it’s safe to do so, remove the frost cloth from your plants. Be gentle when removing it so that you do not damage the plants.
  • Store the Frost Cloth: Fold the frost cloth and store it in a dry place until you need it again.

It’s important to note that using frost cloth doesn’t guarantee complete protection for your plants, especially during extreme cold weather. However, it can provide a helpful layer of protection to help your plants survive and thrive during the colder months. Try out some of these helpful products to protect your plants this spring!

A gentle layer of frost settled on plants in a community garden that were not protected with frost cloth.

Frost In The Garden by R. Hartnup