How to protect your garden from the surprise cold snap of May


“Put water on the roots,” advises Myers. “That will help isolate the plant a little bit.”

Water helps the soil retain heat from the sun during the day, cushioning the roots during freezing.

But be careful not to water your plant more than usual. Drowning it can damage roots and leaves.

Mulch the roots

Spreading the mulch around the roots of the plants can also isolate them, Myers says. It also prevents the insulating water from evaporating.

You also don’t need to buy mulch – you can use grass clippings or old, crisp leaves that have fallen in your yard.

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A faint polar vortex is blowing cold Arctic air across much of the United States. New England could even see up to a foot of snow, and in May, no less!

Build a tent

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Like any proud parent, you can wrap your precious bush or flower in a blanket.

You can do it, but do it right: Myers suggests fixing some stakes in the ground to hold the blankets so they don’t damage your plants.

“If you throw grandma’s old comforter on top of a tomato plant in the morning, after the comforter is wet and frozen, it’s going to break the plant anyway,” he said.

Use cloth, not plastic

A tarp or plastic cover will not be very hot for your plants.

“Plastic is a terrible insulator,” says Myers. “If you touch the leaves, it will kill them because the temperature will go directly through the plastic cloth.”

Cloth is much better insulation than plastic, he says, although you can use plastic over a cloth blanket to prevent rain or dew.

Remove the cover daily

When the temperature rises above 40 degrees, you need to remove the cloth cover to let your plant absorb the sunlight, which will heat up the soil. This may mean that you will need to cover and discover your plants a few days in a row.

And as soon as the weather improves, you can remove the cover entirely, Myers says.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the surname of CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

CNN’s Monica Garrett, Judson Jones and Dave Hennen contributed to this report.