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Frost damage on young plants. Help please.

Posted by GardeningRook13 Ohio (My Page) on
Sat, May 19, 12 at 20:17

I covered my plants the other night even though our weather was calling for low of 43. Well our plants in garden seemed fine the next day but the plants in my mini hoophouse were wet & cold several hours after sun up. Here we are several days later and the leaves are curling up on my starter plants. I closed the plastic cover over the plants but didn't turn on heat lamp because I made the mistake of trusting my weather guy. I have read light frost is 28-32 degrees but what about 32-37 degrees because I am pretty sure we only got as low as 36 but yet apparently got a frost on my poor plants. I don't know what to do. I am affaird I might have to just chuck them and go buy plants. My father says to "leave them, they'll bounch back". But I am not so sure. Was reading about pruneing damaged leaves but those articles were talking about full grown plants that were already producing tomatoes, and a fall frost. If I prune the damage leaves I don't think I will have anything but a stem. One thing I have learned from this is to always assume the temp is going to get 10 degrees lower then stupid weather guy says. Any advice will be appreciated, Thank You.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Frost damage on young plants. Help please.

Wind chill may be a factor here, even for plants in a hoop house. But since your unprotected plants didn't suffer damage on the night in question, I suspect the curling has a different cause, maybe even overheating during the day, or perhaps a disease. In any case, I'm with your father on this one. Let them be and see what happens. I don't think it would hurt at this stage to trim the damaged leaves. And keep an eye out for possible diseases. Good luck with them.


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RE: Frost damage on young plants. Help please.

Keep in mind that hot air goes up, cold air goes down. The weather services measure temperature @ 2 m height (~ 6.5 feet), meaning that the temperature during the night will always be lower at the ground level (unless some extreme situations like soil absorbing a lot of heat during a sunny day then emanating it throughout the night). That's probably why you had frost even though temp was 36.

I've had a similar situation, but temperature went down to 30 (probably slightly less @ ground level, but only for an hour or two)! The weather guy missed completely, and i found 13 wilted plants next morning (whole plant, along with the growing tip). They were planted quite deep, so i presumed the roots didn't freeze. I just left them in the ground, without pruning, and in 2-3 weeks time they actually recovered even though they looked completely dead. At the time i had another 50 that have only had their foliage slightly damaged, so i thought i'd give those 13 a go, and it worked. So i'm also with your father on this ;)


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