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Cover plants during freezing temperatures

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the weather report calls for freezing temperatures overnight, as it does early Wednesday morning, don't forget about your plants.

If you do nothing, you could wake up to dead bushes and trees. And as much as it costs to landscape your yard, it's a minimal cost to protect the plants from the cold.

Buddy Hill, landscaping design manager at Trad's Garden Center, said it's as easy as using a bed sheet at your home to keep your plants warm.

"You do not want to use anything that's plastic," Hill said. "That's always the biggest mistake we have here."

Covering your plants properly is the key to survival.

"Make sure you have some kind of air travel to travel around the plant," Hill said. "That's key because if you don't, it's going to suffocate the plant and it's going to die anyways."

Covering your plants and tightening it off at the trunk isn't enough. That's just breaking the wind chill. The correct way to cover plants is in a tepee shape.

A bed sheet works just fine, and you don't need to worry about covering your plants unless it's close to freezing -- 32 degrees.

If the temperature drops in the low 20s or high teens, you'll need to do a little more. Get a heat source under the plant like a light.

"Get you some bamboo stakes, and if your plant is this tall, put your stakes a foot taller and drape the cloth around," Hill said. "That's why you need a cotton sheet or something."

Citrus trees could see damage with temperatures below 20 degrees. If you are concerned about that, you want to build up heat around the root stock.

"This would take damage and stuff if the sheet was directly on it," Hill said. "If it's directly on it, it will stay nice like an oven."

Hill said it's best to uncover your plants the morning after the freeze before you go to work.


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