How to Protect Plants from Frost & Snow

Learn how to protect plants from frost & snow, so new garden growth survives an April freeze. Includes simple, step-by-step instructions and tips for making the process go smoothly!

three peonies in garden with trellis

Here in Ohio, the spring weather has been both beautiful and renewing, but so unpredictable! We have had gorgeous days where I could actually smell the arrival of summer, but this week, we had the total opposite.

The warm weather had forced blooms and buds early, so my peonies were two feet tall, and some of my hosta plants were halfway up. When I saw the weather report earlier this week, I tried not to panic. We were expecting freezing temperatures, snow, and possibly sleet. What would that do to my plants?

peony plant in spring garden

The thought of having no peony blooms quickly spurred me into action. I had never been in this situation before, and I wasn’t sure exactly what to do. So I turned to Google, and was able to come up with a plan that I thought would work for my garden. I knew it was important to take into consideration the size of my plants, and how sturdy they were.

peony plant with round support

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How to protect plants from frost & snow: what you need

I set off for the garden center, and after some searching, came home with everything I needed to build little greenhouses around my peonies, allium, hydrangeas, and hosta plants. Here’s what I bought:

Step #1: the very first thing I did was gather some rocks from my garden border to weigh down the edges of the plastic drop cloths. If you don’t have rocks, anything heavy will work. Pavers, bricks, tile, stakes, etc.

peonies with plant supports in garden

Step #2: install the supports around your plants. This takes patience, because the rings are a little tricky. Once I got the hang of it, the process went very quickly.

Tip: I used the plant supports for the peonies, but not for the hydrangeas. Since the hydrangeas have very sturdy branches, I just draped a piece of plastic over each bush, and tied the tape around the base. I am so sorry…but I don’t have any pictures of the hydrangeas.

how to protect your plants from snow with plastic

Step #3: once the supports are in place, drape a plastic drop cloth over them, carefully making sure there is plenty of “give” and room for your plants to breathe.

Step #4: Use rocks or some other heavy items to weigh down the drop cloths. As you can see in the image below, I used two wastebaskets that I already had to cover two little peonies. Rose cones would also be a good choice if you have them. This method works great for young or very small plants.

how to protect your plants from frost with plastic

From start to finish, the entire process took just a few hours. To cover the hosta plants, I loosely laid a plastic drop cloth over them, and weighed the edges down with some pieces of tile. I knew the plants might get a little smooshed, but it was better than losing the leaves that were already popping through the soil.

At this point, I took a deep breath and hoped for the best! The next evening, right on time, the temperatures dropped, and the snow began to fall. This is what we woke up to the next morning. (4/21/2021)

spring snowfall in garden with birdhouse

I am certain that if the peonies had not been covered, they would have been completely weighed down by the very wet and heavy snow. I’m not sure about the other plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

how to protect your plants from snow with plastic dropcloths

Like most spring storms, the snow melted quickly, and the green grass was back in business by the next day. I left the coverings on until the night temperatures were well above freezing. So all in all, the plants were covered for three days.

UPDATE: I heard from some readers who said it wasn’t advisable to use plastic to cover plants. I used it because the forecast was for heavy, wet snow and sleet. I felt that sheets or towels would get too heavy with several inches of snow sitting on them. I’m certain the plant supports would have collapsed if they had been covered with heavy, snow covered sheets or towels. The daytime temps while my plants were covered never got over 55 degrees, so nothing was in danger of getting too warm. If your weather forecast only calls for frost, the fabric options would work fine. Definitely use what you think will work the best!

miniature schnauzer kelly from on sutton place

Kelly loved being outside after months of being cooped up. The grass is soft and very thick, so it was the perfect place for her to hang out while I was busy. She turned 13 in March, and although she’s had some health issues, right now she’s doing great. I’m hoping for a few more good years with her by my side!

This is one of those posts that you may not need now, but if and when the time ever comes, it will be right here at your fingertips. If you have any advice of your own for protecting plants from frost and snow, please leave us a comment. Thank you so much for stopping by and spending part of your day with me. I am so thankful for each and every one of you! Until next time…