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.

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

I also moved some potted plants up against the house…


…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).


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.


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.


  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?

  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.

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

  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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