Thursday, March 21, 2013

Get Educated About Spring Frosts and Take Steps to Protect Your Plants

Contact: Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist
Tel: (417) 881-8909

Spring is here, but we’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to cold weather. Spring frost is a common occurrence in the Ozarks.

What can be done to protect your tender plants when the forecast is for frost?

Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension, says that on average the last expected frost in southwest Missouri is on April 17.

“Just knowing that is rule number one for success,” said Byers. “Don’t plant before that day and some folks wait as late as Mother’s Day.”

There are several types of frost that can be mentioned in the forecast. White frost occurs on still nights, when cold layers of air settle near the ground below warm layers of air.

Frontal frost occurs when cold air masses move into an area, often with wind.

What type of damage can occur with a frost? For starters, flowers are often the tenderest part of a plant, and the first to be damaged by frost. This is certainly the case with strawberries, peaches and apples.

“I get lots of calls from gardeners wanting to know what can be done to deal with frost,” said Byers. “There are three things. First and foremost, plant at the proper time to avoid most frost. Second, cover plants with row cover or other protective layers. Third, pull back mulches and moisten the soil.”

For more information on protecting plants from cold temperatures, call University of Missouri Extension at 417-881-8909 or visit the website for Greene County Extension at


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