Protecting Fruit Blossom from Frost
Two words plunge icy daggers of fear into any fruit gardener’s heart: Late
Most fruits need several weeks, if not months, to reach their juicy,
mouth-watering peak. To do that they need to be quick off the mark, pushing out
flower buds earlier than many other plants would dare. But sometimes spring can
really kick you in the teeth!
Remember all that mulching, feeding, watering and pruning you did? A single
night of freezing temperatures after your fruit’s blossom has begun to form can
undo all your hard work in one fell swoop. Frosted blossom can result in little
or no fruit, so it pays to take action to protect your lovingly grown fruit
trees and bushes from winter’s last laugh.
Planning for Frost in the Fruit Garden
Sun-facing stone or brick walls are a boon, soaking up heat during the day
and releasing it at night. Train fruit against the wall to benefit from this
radiated heat, which could be just enough to save those precious blossoms. This
is particularly beneficial for the less hardy fruits such as peaches, cherries
Keep the area around the trunk of the plant weeded and either bare or
mulched. Grass and other vegetation makes it harder for warm air to rise up out
of the soil, so keeping it bare could make the difference between flowers being
frosted or escaping unscathed.
Wet soil is also said to radiate more heat than dry soil, so it may be worth
watering when a frost is forecast.
Frost-tolerant and Late-flowering Fruits
Some fruits are less likely to be affected by late frosts by virtue of being
slow starters. Raspberries and blackberries for instance tend to flower after
the risk of frost is past, as do acid cherries and most modern varieties of
The flowers of blueberries and strawberries don’t open all at the same time,
so don’t despair if a late frost catches some of the flowers – more are likely
to follow, and will hopefully escape winter’s clutches.
Choose late-flowering varieties if you can. Some detective work may be
required as the flowering time is not always specified when buying fruit plants,
but a good tip is to choose varieties bred in your area if possible. That way
you can be reasonably sure that they’ll perform well in your garden’s typical
Covering Blossoms to Protect Against Frost
Even with the best planning, late frosts can still be a problem in colder
areas. Covering up fruit trees and bushes can help to keep the blossoms just
warm enough to make it through.
Clearly, large trees cannot be covered up. But we can supply antifrost
candles burning under the trees overnight. They can burn over 8 hours. On the
plus side, flowers higher up on the tree may remain warm enough and go on to
produce fruits even if the blooms on the lower branches get zapped.
Fruit bushes, very dwarfing fruits trees and wall-trained fruits are a little
easier to protect. Drape two or three layers of row cover fabric over your
plants, or use plastic, sheets or any other light material you have to hand.
Make sure it extends to ground level to trap warmer air next to the tree.
Strawberries, being compact and ground-hugging, are the easiest of all to
protect. Simply lay your preferred cover over them, or use tunnel cloches or
To prevent the cover from sitting directly on top of blossoms, and to help
avoid pointy branches poking a hole in the material, suspend your cover on canes
or stakes. Cane tips can puncture the material, so place something over the end
– old tennis balls work well. Don’t forget to remove covers during the day to
let insects in to pollinate the flowers.
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