Should You Water Plants If a Freeze Is Coming?

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A freeze warning is issued for your area and you are concerned with losing your decorative plants and shrubs. You have seen fruit growers water trees during a freeze to protect them and wonder if this will work for your plants as well. The answer is: yes and no.

Watering Fruit Trees

  • Spraying fruit trees with water and allowing them to freeze is an attempt to control the temperature of the plant. The ice will stay at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, while the actual air temperature can drop well below this. While this method is effective, the water must be applied at the time of freezing and continually applied throughout the freezing temperatures.

Watering Plants

  • Watering a plant just before a hard freeze will not benefit the plant. The water will not have any affect on the air temperature, which causes the damage. For a mild to moderate frost it can be helpful to spray the plant and allow a thin coat of ice to freeze on the surface of the plant, much in the same way fruit growers protect their trees. If the temperatures are not extreme, this will help prevent cell damage to the leaves and stems.

Healthy Plants

  • A healthier plant will be better able to endure cold weather than a plant under stress. Many homeowners neglect to water their plants during the winter months, leaving plants stressed and vulnerable to cold temperatures. By maintaining a regular watering schedule you help your plants remain healthy. A well-watered plant will be healthier and have a more established root system than a plant that does not receive water on a regular basis. Be proactive and help your plants stay healthy year-round to improve their chances of surviving winter.

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