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Water, cover your plants to protect them from freeze

The weather is playing a dirty trick on folks who couldn’t resist putting plants into the ground the last couple of weeks, said Randall Archie, manager of Archie’s Gardenland.

“I can’t believe this curveball we’re getting tonight,” Archie said.

Overnight weather forecasts that include near-freezing temperatures have gardeners worried that the mercury will dip below 32 in their yards and ruin what they’ve worked hard and spent money to do.

But with a couple of preventive measures, gardeners can thwart the treat, protecting the new shrubs that replaced those killed earlier in the winter and most of the other plants that were set out, Archie said.

“I think all of that stuff will be fine,” he said. “I recommend deep watering with the hose, not the sprinkler.”

Watering the soil helps it hold heat, said Karen Hall, applied ecologist at Botanic Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth.

About the only other thing to do for a plant is covering it properly.

“You want something that breathes,” Archie said.

Hall said she intends to use cloth sheets to cover her peach trees, then throw plastic over them that she can stake down.

“That will contain the heat that’s in the ground,” she said. “If the freeze lasts more than one night, it’s perfectly OK to leave the plants covered.”

The best thing you can do for a plant in a container is share your home, both experts said.

“If you can bring it inside the house, do that,” Archie said. “If you can’t, at least move it close to the house, preferably on a southern wall. Then, cover them as well.”

Archie’s last advice had nothing to do with plants, but was still important: After you’re done watering the plants, disconnect the hose and cover the faucet.

It might freeze, after all.

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