How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Frost

Frost damage causes shoots, buds, and flowers to wilt, turn brown or black, and die in frost tender plants. Whole branches or entire plants may be killed. Succulent plant tissue in the spring is especially susceptible to frost. In some species, blossoms may fail to develop if exposed to frost when budding.

Solutions

The degree of cold injury is influenced by the duration and frequency of frost. To prevent frost damage, do not plant species adapted to mild climates in areas where freezing temperatures occur. Provide soil with adequate moisture to increase its ability to retain heat. When frost is expected, cover sensitive plants overnight with, for example, an old sheet to reduce heat loss to the atmosphere; remove covers during the day. Placing electric lights (Christmas lights) in the canopy, especially if plants are covered, can generate enough heat to prevent plants from freezing. Operating sprinklers overnight to wet foliage can reduce frost damage because extensive cold is required to turn water to ice. Do not combine the use of outdoor lights and sprinkling. Plants adapted to the local environment usually are not permanently harmed by frost. Most established woody species will survive light, short-term frost with minor or no injury, but many semitropical or tropical species will be severely injured or killed by prolonged freezing temperatures.

Lemon foliage killed by frost.
Lemon foliage killed by frost

Frost damage to oleander
Frost damage to oleander


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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