Protecting your plants from a freeze

Most well adapted Central Texas landscaping will need no special winter care. But if you have a vegetable garden,  special potted plants on the patio or entryway, citrus, or those tender specimens that seem worth all the trouble the rest of the year, here are some tips for protecting them on cold winter nights:

-Water: Leave succulents dry, but all other plants need watering before a freeze. 

-Frost Blankets: Use a frost blanket to cover plants that are not cold hardy if temperatures will be below freezing.  If there is going to be freezing rain or wind, use frost blankets to protect foliage (especially the edible kind) from "burning." Secure frost blankets from the ground, over the plant, and back down to the ground, to best utilize ground heat. Clothes pins are an easy way to install frost blankets without tearing them.

-Christmas Lights: Who cares what the neighbors say - keep a strand or two of the old fashioned (not LED) lights around until the 2nd week of March when our last frost usually occurs. Christmas lights strung on a favorite specimen (with a frost blanket on top, if it's really cold) can raise the temperature just enough to make a difference.

-Irrigation: After a watering, turn off your system before a freeze.

-Potted Plants: Stage potted plants in an attractive new arrangement that is close to  the walls of your house for the winter; the radiant heat will help keep them warmer.

-Mulch: A fresh layer of mulch goes a long way to protect your plants' root systems.