Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What are these white blankets?

Last night we had our first freeze of the season. As is so often the case, the weather people on TV made a big deal out of it (apparently they don’t have much else to report), and I did get swept up in the frenzy. I hauled out my stack of frost blankets and covered many of my succulents. I figured it’s better to be safe than sorry even though virtually every plant that is left outside can handle temperatures down into the upper 20s.

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Succulent display table next to the front porch
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Succulent bed in the front yard
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One of the stainless steel tables in the backyard…
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…and my potting bench—although currently it is covered with potted cuttings

I also moved some potted plants up against the house…

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…and a few others went in the dining room for the night where they joined the tropical plants I’m overwintering there (Mimosa pudica, currently sulking, Begonia luxurians, and two angel-wing begonias).

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The official nighttime low for Davis ended up being 30.5°F. Yes, below freezing but barely. There was frost on the lawn this morning and the neighbors’ roofs were white, but since temperatures were only below freezing for a few hours, I don’t think any gardener around here lost anything—unless they left out their tropical orchids.

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While this ended up being much ado about nothing, I’m ready for winter now, and my frost blankets are ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. Actually, I’m leaving them in place until tomorrow since tonight is supposed to be another cold one.

One note about frost blankets: The ones I use are made of polypropylene. Since they are very light, they don’t put as much weight on plants as a sheet might, especially as it absorbs moisture from the air. The information given by various manufacturers varies, but frost blankets seem to add 2-4°F of protection. In my case, that’s typically enough to prevent leaf damage to succulents or tender perennials.

4 comments:

  1. I need to get some bamboos covered for the winter -- wish it were as easy as throwing frost blankets over them.

    Also, I see that you've given up waiting for me to design that potting bench for you -- or is this just temporary?

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  2. Alan, I'd love an easy way to cover bamboos, just in case I ever need to cover my prized Bambusa chungii 'Barbellata.' Maybe something deployed from a low-flying aircraft? Just kidding...

    Potting bench: What I'm using at the moment is just a stainless steel table we got relatively cheap. It's nice looking and can easily be moved/used elsewhere. So no, I haven't given up waiting. I'm sure what you'll come up with will be much more functional.

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  3. Do like the orchards and use fans to move the air and smudge pots!

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  4. It's definitely that time of the year again when the frost blankets start coming out and making their presence known. I do like this material as it keep the frosts at bay and yet it's breathable :)

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