Winter weather 2013: How to take care of your plants during cold blast

PHOENIX - The weather can be damaging to some plants throughout the greater Phoenix area, and most especially in areas outside of the inner city, including Buckeye, Mesa, Wickenburg, Gila Bend and Casa Grande when temperatures dip below freezing.

See latest forecast for Phoenix and the state

Blooming plants, sub-tropical plants such as hibiscus or bougainvillea, and young plants are considered most at-risk and should be covered during the night and morning with blankets or sheets. Make sure the fabric you use is breathable and that it is draped from the top all the way to the ground so that there are no openings for warm air to escape.  Do not use plastic to cover plants.

Ficus trees are also susceptible to cold temperatures. You should wrap blankets around the trunk, as well as over the foliage.

When it comes to citrus trees, flooding the base of the trunk with water can help protect the fruit because the water helps absorb the cold temperatures. Thicker-skinned fruits such as oranges and grapefruits typically receive minimal damage.

If you have time before a freeze happens, you can also create insulation barriers around a plant as a way how to protect plants from freezing. Tie up the plant as neatly as possible. Drive stakes that are as tall as the plant into the ground around the plant. Wrap the stakes in burlap so that the plant is fenced in. Stuff the inside of the barrier with hay or leaves. You can also place milk jugs of warm water on the inside, at the base of the barrier each night to help supplement the heat. A string of Christmas lights wrapped around the plant can also help add additional heat. As soon as the freeze passes, remove the covering so that the plant can get the sunlight it needs.

Watering the soil (not the leaves or stems of the plants) will also help the soil retain heat and can help the plant's roots and lower branches survive.

Besides your plants, don't forget about your pipes and pets!

Insulate your pipes, use heat tape to wrap them, seal leaks, and disconnect your garden hose. Also, make sure to bring your pets inside on nights when the temperatures drop.

Stay with ABC15 and abc15.com for updates on the freezing tempatures.

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