HOW TO: Prepare for a Frost

First Fall Frost 
Protect your plants from the first frost with these tips!

Bountiful Gardens is here to give you some tips to keep your flowers for a little while longer during the first frosts of fall! It has been very warm recently, so your plants wont be used to the cooler temperatures coming our way, so it's important to help protect them tonight from the first one!

What's the Difference Between a Frost and a Hard Freeze?
A frost refers to the conditions that allow a layer of ice crystals to form when water vapor condenses and freezes without first becoming a dew. A hard freeze is a period of at least 4 consecutive hours of air temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Many plants can survive this brief frost tonight, but very few can survive a hard freeze!
Unexpected freezes can devastate landscapes and gardens. All plants freeze and die at different temperatures. The best thing that you can do during a light frost is cover plants in soil or bring potted plants inside. 


Bringing your pots of tender annuals into your house or garage should buy you an extra few days! Cover tender annuals in the ground with a light blanket to protect them and make sure the plant covers extend all the way over the plant and down to the ground to trap in the heat. Be sure not to remove it too early in the morning when the frosty temperatures can persist even after sunrise. However, you want to make sure that you remove the blanket in the morning so condensation doesn't build up and freeze over again under the covering. 
Garden Cover for light frost

Hardy flowers

Your mums should have little problem adjusting to the cold, for they are a more hardy flower than others. However, open mums are the most at risk than tighter flowering ones. They will turn brown if they aren't cover and that will happen. Pinch the brown flowers off of the mums and they will keep re-budding until we get a hard freeze. Though some open flowers may droop until your plants have gotten accustomed to the lower temperatures, cover your mums and place them under an over hang! 

Summer bulbs

The first frost will kill the leaves and stems of summer bulbs, but not the bulbs themselves. They can be saved to replant next spring. After the frost tonight, you can cut the stems off & dig up the bulbs to store for the winter in a cool, dry, dark location where temperatures do not drop below freezing!

Potted plants

Bringing these inside for the night will be your safest bet to protect them from the frost. The roots of potted plants experience more severe temperature fluctuations than those that are planted in the ground. They also reach lower temperatures, which is why potted plants are especially susceptible to root damage during the cold. If you choose to cover the plants rather than take them inside, place a cover over them, touching the ground, to take advantage of the ground's relative warmth.

More tips for Protecting Potted Plants

  • If you have it, apply mulch on top of the soil, up to the rims of the pots. This will insulate the soiil and protect the roots. You can also wrap blankets, bubble wrap or burlap around the outside of the containers for extra insulation.
  • Place the open side of cardboard boxes up and over the pots, making sure they're large enough that they don't touch the foliage. You can use other things like buckets, milk jugs, or even larger plant pots with blankets over them, depending on what size the plant you're covering it.
  • Gather potted plants together close to each other. Do this in front of a wall or under an overhang. The wall/overhang provide some cold protection and plants grouped together help each other stay warm.


54 Main Street

Chester, NJ 07930
135 Route 206
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
1536 Lower Ferry Rd
Ewing, NJ 08618


  1. Great timing on this post for your newsletter. It came the night before our first frost and was a much appreciated reminder.


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