Prepare for frost in Sacramento area the next two nights

Published: Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

Time to huddle up your succulents; frost is in the air.

According to the National Weather Service, frost is forecast for the next two nights.

Lows in Sacramento are expected to dip below freezing tonight. After daytime highs in the low 50s, the thermometer will drop to 32 again Friday night.

A slight warming trend this weekend should keep lows above 40 degrees, starting Saturday.

"That will probably put an end to the frost danger, but it's likely the next couple of days," said Drew Peterson, NWS meteorologist.

Winter frost is fairly common in Sacramento.

"We get it when we have cold nights and clear skies," Peterson said. "It's similar conditions to fog. The big difference: moisture."

Hydrating plants before temperatures drop can help them survive freezing temperatures, according to UC master gardeners. Water plants lightly in late afternoon or early evening before the frost hits. Wet soil holds more heat than dry soil. This also raises the humidity level.

Here are more tips to help your garden survive frosty nights:

• The plants most at risk are citrus, tropicals, succulents and new transplants.

• Move potted plants to overnight shelter such as the garage or covered patio.

• Cover sensitive plants at night with frost cloths or fabric sheets - not plastic. Sheets can raise the temperature 5 degrees. Allow a little room for air circulation under the cover; that helps keep in the warmth. Remove the coverings in the morning so plants can breathe.

• Avoid plastic sheets. Clear plastic won't hold in warmth and black plastic bags will cook the plants you're trying to save.

• String old-fashioned Christmas lights on the trunks and limbs of citrus or avocado trees or large plants. Bigger lights put out more heat than minis.

• Cover tender transplants with "hot caps," individual greenhouses made of waxed paper. Cut a 12-inch piece, form a cone and secure it with tape. Place the cone over the transplant. Or use a plastic water bottle with the bottom cut out; discard the cap. Those protectors can stay in place until the frost danger has passed.

• The plants most at risk are citrus, tropicals, succulents and new transplants.

• Move potted plants to overnight shelter such as the garage or covered patio.

• Cover sensitive plants at night with frost cloths or fabric sheets - not plastic. Sheets can raise the temperature 5 degrees. Allow a little room for air circulation under the cover; that helps keep in the warmth. Remove the coverings in the morning so plants can breathe.

• Avoid plastic sheets. Clear plastic won't hold in warmth and black plastic bags will cook the plants you're trying to save.

• String old-fashioned Christmas lights on the trunks and limbs of citrus or avocado trees or large plants. Bigger lights put out more heat than minis.

• Cover tender transplants with "hot caps," individual greenhouses made of waxed paper. Cut a 12-inch piece, form a cone and secure it with tape. Place the cone over the transplant. Or use a plastic water bottle with the bottom cut out; discard the cap. Those protectors can stay in place until the frost danger has passed.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington



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