FLINT, Texas (KETK) — With the cold air rushing in, you want to make sure your outdoor plants are protected from this sudden shock to the system.

Temperatures in East Texas have dropped to freezing digits a couple of times this year as we get closer to the winter months, so you want to be prepared.

“Once you get down around 36 (degrees) or so you’re entering the temperatures where frost can occur, it can actually occur when the temperature hasn’t hit freezing yet, now as you get down close to freezing then you’re actually looking at the danger of killing plant tissue,” said Skip Richter with Texas Agrilife.

Brenda Swagerty, who is a co-owner of Dreams of Green Garden Center in Flint, said covering plants really does make a huge difference.

“The key to covering it is it has to be covered all the way to the ground, so when you cover a plant, make sure that you cover it thoroughly, 360 degrees around, all the way over the top, but when you bring it to the bottom, you want no air gaps,” said Swagerty.

What you’re doing is trapping in the heat that’s radiating from the soil, keeping the plant warm overnight.

There are some materials you should and shouldn’t use for this.

“A lot of people use old fabric tablecloths. Now, I would steer away from anything clear plastic. Clear poly has a tendency if it touches the plant to intensify the cold,” explained Swagerty.

She said if your potted plants are small enough, you should bring them indoors where you don’t have to cover them.

“Your pot is above ground and it is subject to the absolute temperatures of the air. So, if we’re at 29 degrees, so is the root system of your plant,” added Swagerty.

Swagerty also recommends watering plants more before a freeze because water stops the cold from damaging the plant’s leaf tissue.

You will know your plants have been damaged by frost when the leaves and branches turn black or brown.

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