Staghorn fern

This staghorn fern at Conestoga House and Gardens weighs about 400 pounds and requires a front-end loader to move it indoors for the winter. Plants big and small need protection as temperatures drop.

Some plants just aren’t tough enough for frost.

With a freeze warning in effect Tuesday night  (Nov. 2) into Wednesday morning, you’ll need to take a few steps to protect tender plants that you want to keep.

Throughout Lancaster County, there’s a 50 percent chance of freezing temperatures by Oct. 21. Temperatures vary every year. You can use this online tool to see when it’s likely to see frost in your neighborhood. 

To protect houseplants taken outside for warm weather:

To protect outdoor plants:

  1. For non-cold-tolerant outdoor plants, like tomatoes, when temperatures are expected to reach freezing, cover them with a light sheet or blanket. Don't allow the covering to touch the plant, which can cause frost damage. Plastic sheets or upside-down buckets also work.
  2. Hardy plants such as mums, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower do not need to be protected and will survive through temperatures in the 20s. 
  3. If you have a container garden, move it into the garage or indoors. Clear space for your planters now.
  4. Remember the coldest temperature can be measured after sunrise. Temperatures can drop dramatically after dawn, so wait until temperatures are 40 degrees before removing cover or taking plants outdoors.
  5. After the frost, tropical bulbs, like canna lilies can be dug up to store for planting next year. Waiting until closer to Thanksgiving will allow the plant to be completely dormant before removing.

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