Take precautions to protect your garden plants now.

Almost every gardener in the area has stark memories of Winter Storm Uri — aka snowmageddon — the harsh winter storm that walloped Houston and Galveston last February. Longtime residents were shocked at the length and bitter cold of that event.

Before the next winter storm strikes, ensure you have a plan to protect your garden. Vulnerable plants like tropicals require as much protection as possible. Move any potted plumerias and citrus trees inside and cover sensitive outdoor plants. Woody shrubs, herbaceous perennials and cold season annuals, such as pansies and snapdragons, usually survive typical winter weather.

The duration and severity of freezing weather should also determine how you prepare. A quick cold snap, with a brief period of below-freezing weather, or perhaps a frosty morning, requires different preparations than an extended freeze. During frosts, try to retain as much of the plant's radiant heat as possible. Place frost covers over sensitive plants late in the day to hold heat from the plants and the ground. Remove the covers as the day warms and repeat if another night of cold weather is predicted.

Preparations for an extended period of cold are more rigorous. Again, place all tropicals and potted citrus trees inside, perhaps in a garage, greenhouse, or shed. Even in these situations, supplemental heat may be necessary. If you use a heat source, ensure it's safe for indoor use and the area is ventilated. Many people fall ill from carbon monoxide poisoning each year, so safety is paramount.

Apply frost covers, and possibly even double frost cover, to plants you wish to protect in beds or the yard. A heavy pile of loose or shredded leaves insulates roots and is beneficial for plants.

Group potted plants that cannot go inside on the south side of a fence or house. Take those same wonderful leaves, fill up a few garbage bags, and then pile them around the pots to protect the roots. As another source of insulation, place leaves between the containers and cover them with a frost cover. Once the cold weather passes, leave the material in the garbage bags to break down into garden-friendly leaf mold. In this situation, an alternative to leaf bags is thick Bubble Wrap, usually found in heavy-duty packing. It will help insulate pots if placed around the outside.

Invest in good quality frost cloth and try to have it on hand early. Many places sell out, even if there is only the threat of a cold snap.

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