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First Frost of the Season Predicted this Weekend; Bring in Your Fair-Weather Plants

Sunlight through Leaves
(Photo credit: KSMU)

Local forecasters and master gardeners alike say it’s time to bring in your flowers and other fair-weather plants—the first frost of the season is predicted for this weekend. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has this report on how you can keep your plants from dying prematurely.

 

According to Jay Colucci, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, this weekend is going to get progressively colder due to a massive cold front sliding down from Canada and moving into the Midwest. He forecasts that clouds will hover over southwest Missouri until later Saturday night.

“Late tomorrow, probably at night, we’ll see some clearing, and that’s going to really allow radiative cooling processes to take place—heat escapes. It will allow frost to form on some of the surfaces. Now, we’re going for a low here in Springfield of 33, here Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon, we’ll have mostly sunny, around 54. Then again, Monday, Columbus Day, about 35, almost the same. So we’ve got a couple of cold mornings.”

Colucci says the deeper valley areas further east will be even colder. However, he says there’s no need to worry about ice.

“At this point right now, by the time it gets that cold, we won’t have any more rain, I think it will probably be mostly, whatever little bit we get, will be drained off and evaporated. I don’t think you’re going to see any puddles freezing.”

One thing he does say to do: bring in those plants that are sensitive to the cold.

George Deatz is a spokesman for the Master Gardener’s office of the University of Missouri Extension. He says the predicted frost this weekend isn’t abnormal—usually the first frost of fall happens around Oct. 15. He says just be aware of the predicted weather, and what it can do to your outdoor plants.

“It’s probably going to be a two night event and then warm up. They can cover the plant with a netting material, like a sheet or something, but the important is to take it off early the following day before any sun can hit it because that will heat it up very rapidly. Take it off as soon as the temperatures rise above freezing.”

Deatz says the sheet serves a dual purpose.

“Obviously, the frost material of moisture is not going to get onto the plant, but the main thing is the heat from the ground will be retained, kind of like a little tent underneath the material, to keep the temperature from dropping too low. And, of course, it will also keep the wind chill off of them.”

The ground, he says, is a “heat sink” and generally keeps warmth longer than anything around it.

He advises to bring all indoor plants inside as soon as temperatures drop below 50 degrees.

Also, he says to harvest any vegetables that haven’t been picked out of the garden yet. Some foods, like tomatoes, will freeze.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.