How to Care for Outdoor Plants When the Temperature Drops at Night


The first day of summer is not until June 21st. No matter how warm the weather gets, it should not surprise you when temperatures drop at night before summer begins. There are several ways to protect outdoor plants when temperatures do fall. You can also care for garden plants in the fall to add a few more days to the growing season. Preparation is the key to care for outdoor plants when the temperature drops at night.

Step 1

Cover large plants and shrubs with old sheets or blankets before sunset to keep as much heat under the cover as possible. Cold temperatures cause the water in leaves to freeze. The reaction is similar to leaving a can of soda in the freezer for too long.

Step 2

Drive garden stakes into each corner of large flower beds and gardens. Attach sheets of black plastic to the stakes, just above the tops of the plants, so the entire area is under protection.

Step 3

Use 5-gallon buckets to cover individual plants like young tomatoes and roses. You can use coffee cans or even ice cream buckets for smaller plants.

Step 4

Blanket freshly planted vegetable gardens with layers of newspaper. Start by covering with single sheets of the newspaper and then adding one or two additional layers as needed.

Step 5

Remove the coverings in the morning after the sun is shining on the covered areas. This allows the temperature of the plants to gradually warm up instead of exposing them to sudden heat.

Tips and Warnings

  • Before winter, prune back any dead or dying stalks, branches and leaves from the plants. The dead wood collects bacteria and insects so they have a safe winter home. In the spring, the insects and other organisms come out with a vengeance.

Things You'll Need

  • Old sheets or blankets Garden stakes Black plastic 5-gallon buckets Newspapers Mulch


  • Yardener: Winterizing Landscape Plants
  • Ohio State University: Fertilizing, Pruning and Winterizing Roses
  • Natinal Gardening Association: Plant Care Guides
Keywords: frost protection, protecting against frost, frost damage protection

About this Author

Julie Richards is a freelance writer from Ohio. She has been writing poetry and short stories for 30 years. Recently, Richards has written a variety of e-books and numerous articles on gardening, small business, and farming. She is currently enrolled at Kent State University completing her bachelor's degree in English.