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Frost Protection For Your Flowers

Frost protection for your flowers:iStock_000000224386Medium.jpg

Even though we are blessed with mild winters here in California, we still have to contend with frost damage to our flowers. In some ways we are very susceptible to frost because we dare to grow flowers in the winter, and because like all growers, we are tempted to grow flowers that are on the edge of our climate zone with respect to hardiness. At California Organic Flowers we have lots of experience with frost, because once upon a time we used to operate a farm at 6,300 feet in Teton Valley, Idaho. In Idaho we had only a 70 day (not necessarily consecutive) frost free growing season! A time honored tradition for farmers is to ‘make the call’ and decide whether to go out at midnight with our
headlamps and save the crop from frost! Generally this amounts to spreading row covers over tender crops in an effort to gain a few degrees protection. We have had great success with Agribon floating row covers, giving us 2 degrees protection as a single layer and up to 5 degrees protection with a double layer of fabric. Oddly, our fancy 2000 square foot greenhouse affords no more protection from frost than fabric row covers. This year we have resorted to heating our greenhouse on the coldest nights to protect our crops of lilies and freesia. If you have some important plants that must be protected from frost, a simple and effective method is to wrap them with some Christmas lights and then cover them with old blankets. The lights will provide a nice safe low wattage heat source under the blanket and protect down to about 24 degrees. Generally it is best to plant tender plants such as bougainvillea, bird of paradise or citrus next to your house, preferable on the south or west side where the heat of the house will radiate out toward the plants and protect them from frost. These techniques will work in any climate. We basically use the frost prevention techniques we learned in Idaho summers (yes, it can freeze in July in Idaho!) and use them in the winter in California. It should be noted that the best strategy is to grow plants that are hardy in your climate zone. But, if you are like us, you will always be tempted to grow something special that is a wee bit tender for your climate. I suppose tempting fate is part of the fun!

Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2007 at 02:10PM by Registered Commenter[Your Name Here] in | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

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