Frost protection for plants: Tips from gardening experts for the winter.

During the frigid months, there are ways to prevent yourself from getting frosty. But what about your plants? How can you protect them from those wintry visits from Jack Frost?

If you live in an area where the weather isn't always hospitable, you might have experienced losing a plant (or two) when the temperatures drop. Sometimes, we forget to cover our plants or can't relocate certain crops in time before the weather changes.

But there are methods and measures to protect your plants, according to gardening and horticulture experts. Here's what you need to know.

How to protect plants from frost

There is not a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to protecting plants from frost. "It depends on a whole bunch of different factors," said Dave Whitinger, executive director of the National Gardening Association.

Each area has its own weather and landscapes, so it's hard to lump every gardening experience together. Vegetation or flowers that thrive in one part of the country may differ from another.

"If you're going to plant something in the ground, it's best, if you can help it, to choose something that's designed to withstand the cold in your area," said Whitinger.

The best place to start is to look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's plant hardiness zone map. The map helps gardeners and growers learn "what plants can actually tolerate" their specific location, said Cheryl Boyer, a professor in the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources at Kansas State University.

The hardiness zone map uses the "average annual extreme minimum winter temperature" as a guide to divide the U.S. and Puerto Rico into 13 zones, according to the USDA. On its website, you can input your zip code to determine your hardiness zone.

"A lot of plants, especially ornamentals, will be ranked according to their cold hardiness zone," said Boyer.

From there, you can decide what perennials, or plants that live for more than two years, are best suited to where you are.

What happens to plants in the winter?

It's easy to assume a plant is dead if it has become brown and shriveled. But this isn't always the case.

"We have a lot of plants that, like perennials, will just lose the top herbaceous part," said Boyer. In the soil, the roots will be fine. "It'll pop up new shoots in the spring when it warms up again."

There is no need to worry if your roses or tulips have seemingly dried up. If plants are in the correct hardiness zone, they will go dormant in the winter and regrow again once the temperatures go back up.

Many plants can hold up against cold temperatures. Woody plants, such as pine trees, are usually safe from frost depending on where you live, said Boyer. Another example is oregano, which is usually OK in cold temperatures, said Whitinger.

Plant frost prevention methods

If you're looking to give your plants some extra protection from the cold, there are several measures to take. You can place boxes, buckets or nursery containers on top of your plants to protect them from a light or medium frost, said Whitinger. However, this won't completely protect them from extremely cold temperatures.

There are also different types of fabric and plastic options to lightly drape over your plants for short-term protection, said Boyer.

"If it's going to be an extended period of cold weather, you want to make sure that the leaves are not touching the edge of that cover," she said, explaining if the leaves come in contact with the cover, the plant could freeze. "If you surround it with some protection, it'll have its own humidity and warmth."

If your plants are in pots or containers, you can bring them inside your home or in the garage to prevent them from getting frost.

Dealing unpredictable seasons

While we try our best to predict the weather, things don't always go as planned. One day could be relatively warm for the season and the next is back to freezing. It may feel like nature's trying to trick you, but it's not.

In these cases, it's best "to be scientific" about caring for your plants, said Whitinger. If the average temperature is still relatively low, don't let one random, warm day (or two) convince you to start planting.

"You really should wait," he said. "This is the number one cause of people failing in their vegetable gardening is by planting at the wrong time."

In general, it's important to keep an eye on the weather via alerts or applications, said Boyer. This will let you know what is coming to your area, whether it be rain, frost or freeze.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How to protect plants from frost: Expert tips for the winter.