Last updated: May 11, 2021

What Does Frost Mean?

Frost refers to the clusters of ice crystals that form on plants and on the ground during winter. Prominent during sub-zero temperatures, frost can be detrimental to more delicate flowers such as roses. According to botanists, tender plants such as tomatoes, peppers, impatiens, begonias and geraniums should also be protected during winter to avoid frost damage.


Maximum Yield Explains Frost

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, frost is defined as the formation of crystalized ice on the ground in the form of fans, feathers, needles or even scales. In most cases, frost occurs when the temperature falls below 33 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Marin Master Gardeners from the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, frost can encourage the formation of ice crystals right in the plant cells. This severely hinders water distribution. As a result, the leaves can shrivel or turn black. Plants that have sustained frost damage can also display an overly wet appearance.

To prevent severe damage, the Penn State Extension recommends that gardeners cover their crops prior to sunset, in order to encourage the plants to retain heat from sunlight.


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