How to Protect your Desert Plants

While winter in Arizona may not seem that daunting compared to other regions of the country, desert nights do get cold enough to damage vulnerable desert plants. From the heat of the valley to the peaks of high country, custom home builders in AZ recommend taking a few preventive measures now to keep your tender plants healthy and intact until spring.

Know Your Plants

Not all plants are susceptible to colder temperatures so being knowledgeable of which varieties are sensitive to frost can save you time and money. When planting new flora, be sure to place those types needing warmer temperatures near some type of protection such as a block wall, an overhang, or grouping of rocks that will retain heat more effectively. Planting with protection in mind can help shield delicate blooms from low temps. For existing plants, identify which will need to be covered and prepare your frost plan for those plants in advance to make it efficient and simple. Citrus trees, hibiscus, bougainvillea and honeysuckle are plants commonly used in the landscaping designs of custom home builders in AZ, but your arrangement may have others. You may also wish to pot delicate plants and bring them inside for the winter.

Know the Weather

Be aware of frost alerts and dropping temperatures, but also know how your specific area differs in temperature from weather reports. Investing in a wireless thermometer and comparing it to local weather reports for a period of time can help you identify when the risk of freezing is relevant to you and your desert plants.

Cover Up

When a frost is imminent, the easiest way to protect endangered plants is to cover them. NEVER use plastic since that can trap moisture and also become too heavy, breaking delicate stalks and stems. Use a lightweight sheet, blanket (thrift stores are an excellent resource for these), burlap, or specialty plant covering from a home improvement store. Ideally, the covering should surround the entire plant from top to ground for the ultimate protection, and not be cinched around the base of the plant. Picture a sheet ghost rather than a lollipop for your covering method. Keep the coverings in place until the sun has substantially risen, preferably mid-morning.

Water Hazards

Hard freezes may cause extensive damage to irrigation systems and water features. You may need to cover backflow preventers on pumps or otherwise prepare your irrigation system for the cold. From November to March, watering of trees and shrubs should be minimal. If you do need to water, do so early in the morning so that plants are dry by nightfall.

Step Away from the Shears

While it may be tempting to trim off dried leaf tips or branches for aesthetic purposes, pruning of plants and trees is best left until spring. Removal may expose tender plants to further damage from winter’s cold, plus new growth will be more easily damaged by cold temperatures. Dead leaves and branches can also trap heat which will help keep the plant warmer.

With a little preparedness, you can help your beautiful desert plants survive the frosty nights of winter and bloom brightly in the warmth of spring. Consult custom home builders in AZ for more information on landscaping strategies and tips for protecting your vegetation all year long.