After all the time and effort you've spent selecting, planting and caring for the plants in your garden, the last thing you want is to lose your fragile flowers to an unseasonal frost. As temperatures drop, the water inside the plant cells freezes, forming ice crystals that shred cell walls and permanently damage your favorite foliage. By keeping an eye on the weather, preparing for bad conditions well in advance and applying a bit of effort, you can protect your flowers and help them survive in cooler conditions.
Water your flowers in the afternoon or early evening, prior to sunset. As the water from the surrounding soil is released into the air, it raises the relative humidity of the immediate area and creates a slight warming effect.
Surround the bases of flowers and delicate plants with a 2- to 4-inch layer of shredded bark, straw or pine needle mulch. The added insulation helps shield the roots from the damaging effects of winter weather.
Cover fragile flowering plants with sheets of newspaper, burlap or old blankets. Do not cover your plants with plastic sheeting unless you are also able to establish a support framework. Plastic is impermeable will not let the plants breathe.
Place paper cups or flower pots over small plants, as the weight of the protective coverings may be too much for the young plant to bear.
Remove all coverings in the morning to allow the foliage unrestricted access to sunlight and fresh air, as well as to prevent overheating.
Encourage air circulation around low-lying areas of the garden by placing a small portable fan near vulnerable plants. Warmer air rises, leaving cooler air closer to the ground. By keeping the air moving, you discourage the formation of frost or ice crystals.