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Dangers of the Freeze-Thaw Cycle on Plants

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A constant freeze-thaw cycle can be very confusing, and harmful, to your plants.

Throughout the region we’ve been enjoying unseasonably warm weather for the past week, and it looks like the trend will continue for at least a few more days. While we might be loving this early faux-spring, it’s sending our plants and gardens mixed messages. After an early thaw, the most dangerous thing for your plants is another freeze.


The cold slows biological functions of plants and soil, like photosynthesis, making it hard for them to survive. Add in the already lacking amount of sunlight and it becomes even harder for a plant to live during winter. Many plants naturally go dormant during the winter as a survival tactic.


Once the weather starts to warm, plants understand that it’s time to get growing. The uptick in the temperature is accompanied by more hours of sunlight, allowing your plants to make more food for themselves and grow out of their winter dormancy.


The real dangers come when there’s a late freeze, or a thaw during the winter followed by the temperatures dropping back down to normal. The thaw has increased the biological activity of your plants. They think it’s time to wake up and enjoy the warm seasons. If plants begin to bud and bloom early the more sensitive parts of the plant are now exposed to damage if another freeze occurs. This freeze-thaw-freeze cycle doesn’t just cause problems above ground. As the cycle occurs, soil expands and contracts nearly constantly since it’s subject to warming sunlight and cooling wind all the time. As the soil fluctuates it can lift plants and root systems up out of the ground in a process known as frost heaving.

What Can You Do?

The best thing to do to protect your plants after an early budding is to use frost blankets to harness ground warmth. Frost blankets work for your plants like a regular blanket works for you, they trap heat in and keep the cold out to provide a more livable temperature. For future plants the best thing to do is to wait to plant until a more traditional time in the season when there’s a lower chance of another frost.

JFK Lawn and Landscape Provides Professional Lawn Maintenance Services

lawn maintenance For over 12 years, Jason Kahler and his team at JFK Lawn & Landscaping have been providing outstanding landscaping services to homeowners and businesses throughout Howard County, and recently expanded to Montgomery County and Carroll County. Family owned and operated since 2004, JFK offers services including lawn maintenance, turf enhancement, general landscaping, gutter cleaning, and power washing, as well as snow removal services in the winter months. To learn more about what we do, check out our About Us page or our FAQ section.

If you have any questions or concerns about your lawn and landscaping needs, please feel free to give us a call at (410) 531-6208 or send us an email using our contact form.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 at 2:26 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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