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How to properly protect your plants from arctic freeze

Make sure to bring your plants inside or cover them with a tarp before the arctic freeze approaches on Thursday.

NEW ORLEANS — The arctic air moving in will put our plants at risk. You can take any small, tender plants inside, but for your garden or larger plants, there are coverings that will help.

"There's usually a day or two every year we have to protect the plants," Wayne Soniat, Garden Center Manager at The Plant Gallery said.

Soniat has worked at The Plant Gallery for six years. It's part of his job to make sure the plants are protected when a freeze is expected.

He starts by taking bamboo stakes to create a support for the frost cloth. He cuts the stakes a few inches above the plant so the cloth won’t touch the garden.

"That'll actually trap the heat coming from the ground and form like an insulated pocket," he said. "You want to cover it in the evening before it gets to those freezing temperatures and uncover it in the morning when the sun starts to come out."

Soniat said you don't need to cover all of your plants. 

"No, you don't need to cover all of them, in fact one of the common plants people have in their landscape are camellias, they are exceptional evergreens, you don’t have to cover them," he explained.

For your trees, like young palm trees, Soniat said to wrap them with Christmas lights. The minimal heat they give off help keep them warm.

"An old trick we used for a long time is wrapping your tree with Christmas lights," he said.

Soniat said you can also wrap potted plants with a frost cloth, but the better option is bringing them inside, especially if they are young.

"This is a hibiscus and this is a plant I would suggest you bring inside your house," he said, holding a hibiscus.

If you can't find a frost cloth, as many garden centers are already sold out, a backup option is to use a sheet. They are not as breathable though, so your plants will need time during the day without the covering.

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