Yay! Fall (and in some places Winter) is upon us! Only problem is if you have tropical plants (zone 9-9b+) you know its also time to protect them. We’ve used the special frost fabric, and even old bed sheets in the past, but here is our newest and cheapest technique for protecting plants from winter’s chill. This inexpensive trick was suggested by the garden experts at Green Acres here in Sacramento after we almost fell over looking at pop up “frost tents” ($17 a piece!). All you will need is some burlap (a roll is about $10-$12 at Home Depot), long bamboo stakes ($0.89-$1.50) and lots of dried leaves (we have plenty of those this time of year). As for tools you’ll need only scissors and a hand staple gun.
First sink your bamboo stakes, either 3 or 4, to a pot/plant depending how large your plants are.
Next wrap your plant with the burlap and attach it to the bamboo stakes using the staple gun or even stapling it to the adjacent fence if necessary.
Finally add your leaves, and be sure to cover the root ball or base of your plant, as the experts say, its actually not the outer leaves, branches, etc you’re trying to protect but rather the root system. If you don’t have leaves, they suggested purchasing cedar mulch.
Now if you have a real hard frost, use any excess burlap to cover the tops of the plants at night, and just remove the covers during the day so they can still get some winter sun, rain and/or if the day warms up. They also suggested to give the plants a good watering during the warmest part of the day at least twice a week during dry, cold stretches. (Making sure the water is penetrating the root system.) This may not be the prettiest idea, but it should protect our tropical plants. We’ll free the “girls” in the spring and see if this technique actually worked!