Freeze-thaw cycles are a natural part of plant life. They don’t affect plants the way they do for us, though. When you take a short frost to give plants a short rest, they come back to life the next year. Many flowers actually bloom again in that “rest” period, so they may survive a frost and be just as lovely then.
But some flowers do not recover from short freezes very well. Thawing flowers have their roots, which make them tough to pull up. If you have ever had a frost and been unable to transplant your flower garden because the flower itself was frozen solid, you know how frustrating this can be. Landscape flowers can fare much better than many houseplants because their roots are not under the blanket of leaves and can survive even partial thawing.
Many flowers have an off-white or pale color. They look dull when wet. In the fall or early spring, they still have lots of leaves, but when it gets cold they go brown. The best time to water your flower garden is late in the afternoon, after the sun has dried up most of the leaves off. The soil should still be warm from being covered with straw. If your flowers need watering, the soil temperature should be around 55 degrees.
The other question that people often ask is what type of flowers should I plant now, when I am not sure my flower garden will survive a frost. There are several factors that must be considered if you want your flowers healthy during the spring and summer. All plants have different growth habits, and some are more susceptible to disease or to being damaged by pests than are others.
Some flowers are hardy and will not be affected by frost. Examples are lilies, daffodils, and tulips. Others, like jasmine and freesias, should be planted as bare-root plants and are more sensitive to frost. Plants like clematis, amaryllis, jasmine, marigold, petunias, and roses should be potted, because they are more resistant to freezing damage. Potted plants will also be easier to keep healthy.
One thing to do is to make sure that you are watering your flowers carefully, so that they do not dry out. Be careful about over watering. Snow flowers, which include maps, begonias, plums, and even some orchids, do well on just a few hours of daylight. A week or two before a scheduled frost, you should water your flowers very gently – less than a couple of hours, as the roots will need to expand to hold up to the extra water.
One important tip is to choose flower types that are suitable for different planting locations. For example, you should not plant roses near fences, walls, decks, or other structures that may block the sun from reaching the flower. You should not plant flowers next to each other, either, or even in the same pot. A few tips to remember: If you have flowers that are in pots, check to see if they are still healthy – if you see brown spots or discoloration on the petals, they may have been damaged.
So, now that you know what flowers can survive a freeze, let’s talk about how to protect them from this cold weather. Many flowers can be thawed using the water in your refrigerator. Be sure to drain any puddles of water away from the base of the plant. This will help your flowers stay warm, but it may damage the root system. Another thing to remember is that you should move flower buds that have become damaged during freezing weather, to a warmer area of your garden. In fact, I would even recommend moving whole plants, since you can always repot them later.