How to Protect Plants from a Frost

Plant leaves covered in frost.

Here in Canada we often see cold snaps long into the spring season, just when vulnerable new plants are starting to poke their heads out of the ground. Young seedlings, tender perennials, half-hardy varieties, and tropical and subtropical plants are all vulnerable to the touch of Jack Frost. Don’t let frost damage or destroy your spring garden. In this article, we’ll show you how to protect plants from frost.

Protect Plants from Frost

If the weather report predicts an upcoming temperature drop, it’s time to spring into action to protect your plants from frost. Below are our recommendations.

Bring Smaller Potted Plants Indoors

Small potted plants on a windowsill.

For smaller potted plants, bring them indoors until the weather warms. As an added bonus, you’ll freshen up your interior with some new decorations.


Vine roots covered in sawdust mulch.

Applying a thick layer of mulch to your plants can help insulate the soil and protect your roots from freezing. Keep in mind, though, that this method won’t protect the leaves and stems from frost. You will need to combine mulching with at least one of the methods listed below to fully protect your plants from frost.

Cover Your Plants

One of the best ways to protect plants from frost is to cover them with an appropriate material. Good plant covers for frost include burlap, frost blankets, and horticultural fleece. You can find these materials at your local home improvement store or garden center. In a pinch, even blankets or bubble wrap will work.

Will tarps protect plants from frost? Yes, as long as you use the right kind of tarp. We recommend purchasing thick, insulating tarps made of canvas or burlap. Do not use a plastic tarp because these don’t offer much protection.

You don’t want to drape the cloth directly onto your plants, where it might freeze and stick to the leaves and shoots. Instead, add wooden stakes to the ground around the plant and place the cloth over the stakes so that it sits over your plants like a tent. Make sure to weigh down the cloth so it doesn’t blow away.

Use a Cloche

Glass cloches protecting young lettuce plants.

Another plant cover for frost is a cloche, which is a bell-shaped cover usually made from glass or plastic that sits over the plant. You can purchase cloches at many home improvement and garden stores or make your own if you have a DIY bent. Just cut a plastic bottle or plastic milk jug in half, and you’ve got your own homemade cloche.

Create Windbreaks

Cold winds can dehydrate your plants and cool the air enough for frost to form. Block them by creating temporary windbreaks. You can hang burlap walls around your plants, surround them with hay bales, or install temporary fencing. If you have potted plants, consider moving them to a more protected area.

Build a Cold Frame or Greenhouse

Plastic greenhouse covered in snow.

If frost is common in your area, investing in a cold frame or greenhouse may make sense, especially if you want to grow sensitive tropical or subtropical plants on your property. You can purchase cold frame and greenhouse kits at specialty garden stores or online.

Water Your Plants

It may seem a little counterintuitive, but one helpful way to protect plants from frost is to water them, especially before a hard freeze. Watering your plants in the morning will allow the wet soil to absorb heat from the sun during the day and insulate the roots better than dry soil does.

Know Your Frost-Resistant Plants

While protecting young plants and seedlings from frost is a good idea, not every mature plant needs a five-alarm rescue effort when a cold snap rolls into town. If you’d prefer less work, we suggest starting out with frost-resistant plants on your property.

Some of the most common frost-resistant plants in Canada include:

  • Pansies
  • Snapdragons
  • Ornamental kale and cabbage
  • Violas
  • Primroses
  • Hellebores
  • Daffodils
  • Peonies
  • Certain ornamental grasses, like feather reed grass and blue fescue

With some extra research or the help of a professional landscaping service, you can create a beautiful, colourful, textured garden that will withstand the cold.

Need Help Protecting Plants from Frost?

Should you protect your plants when a frost is coming to town? Yes. Our advice is that it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you have young plants in your yard or aren’t sure whether your plants can survive a frost, take the protective measures we’ve detailed above.

Protecting plants from frost is a lot of work and requires a good deal of knowledge. For expert assistance contact us at The Grounds Guys®. Our local team will be happy to evaluate your property and develop a frost protection plan customized to your flora.

Let us do the work so you can enjoy your gorgeous plants when the warm weather arrives. Our teams are friendly, knowledgeable, and respectful. Additionally, our work is backed by our Neighbourly Done Right Promise™ - if it’s not done right, we promise to make it right.

Ready to protect your plants from the cold? Find your local The Grounds Guys and request a free estimate today.