Protecting plants from autumn's chill - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Protecting plants from autumn's chill

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

This morning was our coldest so far this fall, when the temperature fell to 35° at the Toledo Express Airport.  The season's first frost was reported in a few neighborhoods. 

For tips on protecting plants from the cold air, we went to the Bensell Greenhouse, and spoke to Mary Machon.  She has a degree in biology, and owns the business.  She told us that some plants like cabbages thrive in the chilly weather.  "Their colors are more beautiful, more vibrant due to the colder temperatures and they can even take snow on top of them."

Kale and mums are other examples of plants that you don't need to cover when temperatures fall into the middle 30s.

However, some plants really struggle when temperatures tumble, even just into the 40s.

Mary said, "a lot of people have very large floor plants, a lot of trees like ficus trees or tropical plants that definitely can not take below 50 degrees for any length of time, so people really need to watch the weather and get them inside.  Upper 30 degree temperatures will shock the leaves on them, will turn them black.  We've had a couple nights with longer periods in the upper 30s, so some of those plants definitely need to get inside."

Other plants do okay until the first freeze. Typically, our first freeze is in early to mid October. Those along the lakeshore are sometimes protected by Lake Erie's mild water until a little later.

"My tomato plants will just crash in these colder temperatures," Mary said.

if you can't bring them inside, you can cover plants on colder nights with a lightweight, natural material like cotton.

"You'd want to stake it down, and just make sure that all of the leaves are covered up. It's as simple as that," Mary explained. 

Covering with plastic can do more harm than good.

Mary suggests that you trim the root system and replace the soil, when bringing a potted plant inside for the winter.

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