While it may not make sense at first, it is true that spraying water on outdoor plants just before temperatures fall below freezing can help protect the plants from damage caused by cold weather.
Why Cold Damages Plants
One of the reasons plants and fruits are damaged or killed by cold temperatures is that the cold draws essential moisture from inside the plants, effectively freeze-drying them.
Watering the Inside
Spraying plants with water before a frost gives the plants the opportunity to stock up on their supply, becoming more resistant to the effects of dehydration.
Watering the Outside
Spraying or misting your plants also leaves a coating of water on the outside of the plant. When this turns to ice, it can insulate the plant from the cold.
How it Works
The colder it gets on the surface of the leaf, the more damage is done to the plant. A coating of ice keeps the temperature on the surface of the leaf to the freezing point of water or slightly below. The plant will only need to withstand temperatures of 30 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit even if air temperatures drop further.
Citrus growers in Florida have long used a variety of expensive methods to protect crops during a freeze. Many now use a cheaper method of sprinkling with water to achieve the same or better results.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Chris Metcalf Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Doug Wheller
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