Landscaping can make all the difference in the curb appeal of your home. Like most homeowners, you probably spend a lot of time and money tending to plants in your yard and garden. The last thing you want is frost to damage what you’ve worked hard to keep alive and thriving.

Throughout the country, you need to be on guard against frost and protect your plants, whether they're seedlings or mature plants.

How plants respond to a freeze

A freeze happens when temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, water freezes, including the water inside of a plant and plant cells. This causes the cells to burst. The newly formed ice tears the plant's internal fibers and causes damage.

Some plants are more resilient than others, so here’s a quick guide to plant varieties and how they respond to ice:

  • Tropical or frost-tender plants, such as peace lilies and begonias, grow in warm climates or inside your home, and cannot survive a freeze.
  • Annuals, such as morning glories, tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables, are not designed to survive freezing temperatures. However, they come equipped with seeds that allow them to start the life cycle over once warm weather returns.
  • Bareroot perennials may see their foliage killed by a freeze, but their roots survive and sprout again in the spring.
  • Shrubs, trees and other hardy perennials go dormant when the chill comes on. A sudden frost may damage early blooms or young foliage, but the plants will recover.

Plants respond to frost in different ways, and not all frost is the same. Frost that lasts longer and that hits at a colder temperature (below 25 degrees Fahrenheit) can do more damage than a warmer frost (between 28 and 32 degrees) that only lasts a few hours.

If the forecast calls for temperatures in the 30s, you need to protect your plants. This is especially true for annuals or fruits and veggies growing in your garden.

Protecting sprouts and seedlings

For the smallest and most vulnerable plants in your garden, covering them with an inverted pot or even the surrounding mulch can be sufficient to protect them overnight. You could also consider keeping your seedlings in a greenhouse until the threat of frost has passed.

Protecting mature plants

For plants that have grown beyond the seedling stage, it’s best to cover them with a blanket or burlap. Frost blankets work as a protective layer for your plants, from seed to fully grown. It is made out of porous material so air and water can still penetrate. Plus, it promotes seed germination.

One of the most important things you can do is select plants and flowers that are suited for your climate zone. You want a garden that is hardy and can stand up to nature, keeping your yard and garden looking great for years to come.