How to Protect Plants
Plants are the basis of all life forms on this planet and so it just makes sense that we protect as many species of plants as possible. Plants are the primary element of the environment’s food cycles and all other nature-based cycles.
As plants are the backbone of our ecosystem, it is a serious threat to our natural habitat when many important species of plants become endangered. Many species are rare and now fall under protected plant varieties. The cause of plants gradually becoming endangered is similar to that of animals. Thankfully, many plant conservation projects are ongoing to protect those varieties of plants that are in toruble.
One of the primary reasons of plant extinction is the loss of their natural habitat. And this, of course, is due to the expansion of humans and an increase in our habitat.
With the rapid increase in urban areas and development, plants lose their homes. Clearing off the lands for pasture and other farming or agricultural purposes is also a major concern for plant species. The animals that graze in the open fields have gradually begun to diminish the homes of many types of plants.
Apart from these primary causes, some natural accidents are also responsible for eliminating the entire species of some plants. For instance, wildfire can cause the destruction of huge areas of certain plant habitats.
The process of plants becoming endangered happens over a long period of time, and it is not sudden. As soon as any particular plant species is identified as endangered, immediate steps must be taken to ensure plant protection of that particular variety.
Listed below are just some of the most common and very easy ways to make sure that we do our bit to save the plants from getting endangered:
- Stop cutting down trees
- Encourage afforestation. Plant new saplings and plants as much as you can
- Follow the ideology of ‘Use, re-use and recycle to ensure that you make the maximum use of products
- Control all types of pollution as far as possible
- Ban and check control on all such activities that have negative impacts on plant life and its survival
- Create a maximum number of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks
- Start (or become an active part of) various botanical gardens that have the aim of conserving rare plant species
- Be a volunteer in many nonprofit organizations that work for this cause and also donate and collect the maximum funds possible for this cause
Plants also need to be protected because of their great medicinal value. Even today, many doctors prescribe drugs prepared from plants’ various extracts and products. That is the reason why new plant trials must be encouraged, and any new species must be made to follow the procedures of the plant patents.
Now that we know how important it is to protect the plants in our environment, let’s look at a few specific dangers we need to protect them from and share how to be successful in our endeavors.
How to Protect Plants From Frost
One of the best ways to protect your plants from frost and freezing temperatures is to cover them with sheets, towels, blankets, or a tarp. If you have low growing foliage, you can use old newspaper, but you may find it challenging to keep it in place.
Plastic can also be used to protect plants from frost, but it will not be the most effective material. Many people even recommend against using plastic, vinyl, and traditional camping tarps because they aren’t breathable, and it is easy for moisture to get trapped inside.
Not all plants will need protection against frost; however, if you have young seedlings, new growth, tender perennials, half-hardy varieties, and tropical and subtropical plants like palms and banana plants, you need to learn how to protect these sensitive plants from frost and cold weather.
Some signs of frost damage include blackened, limp, or distorted growth. The leaves on evergreen plants and shrubs may also begin turning green.
If you don’t have anything to cover your frost sensitive plants with, consider bringing them indoors during cold temperatures. This is a fast and easy way to protect your potted plants from frost damage. You can also add a layer of mulch to your garden bed for extra protection and insulation. It serves as an additional barrier to the cold.
Horticultural fleece or a frost blanket is also good for cold protection for landscape plants. Horticultural fleece is ideal for large plants and shrubs that can’t be moved during a hard freeze. It gives them a protective layer against the cold air. After covering the plant, use stakes to keep the plant cover in place and to keep it from blowing off in the wind.
How to Protect Plants From Squirrels
You have spent considerable time cultivating your garden and then go out one morning to see that your plants have been dug up and everything is a mess. This might mean it is time to learn how to protect plants from squirrels and save your garden bed.
Hot Chili Pepper
Hot chili pepper is one of the easiest ways to protect your plants from squirrels. The capsaicin in the pepper acts as a deterrent and is something the squirrel will not want to smell or taste. Simply sprinkle some hot chili pepper flakes around your garden, including any potted plants you have. You can also use cayenne pepper on your plant leaves.
You can also make a foliar spray by combining Tabasco with a gallon of water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. This helps your spray cling to the plant leaves. Before doing this, test the spray out on a small part of your plant before spraying down all of them.
Squirrels also don’t like essential oils. Peppermint oil, geranium, and clove essential oils have been proven to be the biggest squirrel deterrents. Soak some cotton balls in these essential oils and place them in shallow trays around your garden bed or in the planters of your potted plants. Keep these oils away from pets and children.
Another smell squirrels aren’t fans of is garlic. Mix up some chopped garlic with equal parts vinegar and water. Let the mixture sit in the spray bottle for a few days so everything can mingle, and then spray this squirrel repellent on your fences, flower pots, potting soil, and flower bed.
Avoid spraying this directly on your plants because it can damage them. This not only takes care of your squirrel problem but can also keep garden pests at bay as well.
Use a Physical Barrier
Another squirrel deterrent you can use is a barrier like chicken wire. Any fencing you use should be placed up to a foot into the ground to keep the squirrels from digging underneath it. You can also add a layer of mulch cover to your flower bed. Squirrels don’t like how it feels on their feet. It is good to use on newly planted bulbs and also helps disguise their scent.
Protect Bird Feeders
If you have bird feeders, you should replace them with a squirrel proof bird feeder or add a squirrel guard. The area around the bird feeder should also be kept clean and free of dropped sunflower seeds, bird seed, and nuts.
The bird feeder should be placed at least five to six feet off the ground and 8 to 10 feet from your house, fence, shed, or any other structure the pesky squirrels can use to launch themselves from. Switch out sunflower seed and other bird food with safflower seeds. The birds will eat them, but the squirrels won’t.
How to Protect Plants From Cicadas
Cicadas are often attracted to trees for mating purposes. You want to do what you can to lessen this strong protection. One way to do this is by regularly pruning and trimming all trees and shrubs. The pruning helps keep the cicadas away and is also useful for keeping other garden pests away as well.
You can also delay any new planting you have, as prevention is going to be the most effective approach you can take to keep your plants and trees safe against cicada damage. Physical barriers can also be placed like a fine mesh insect netting or barrier plant bags if you have shrubs or trees. Don’t use bird netting because the openings are too big, and the cicadas will be able to get through.
You should also avoid using chemical insecticides because they aren’t going to be as effective as netting. Plus, they would need to be reapplied every two to three days for four to six weeks for adult cicadas. This can ultimately kill your beneficial insects and bees and can harm people, pets, and birds.
Cicada season is typically late June through August. There are also periodic cicadas that can be found in some parts of North America. These emerge from late April through early May, and the cycle spans between 13 and 17 years, depending on the cicada species.
How to Protect Plants From Heat
Just as you protect your plants from frost, you also want to take steps and learn how to protect plants from heat. Even in the shade, the temperatures can soar during a heat wave. This can cause stress and damage to your garden and plants. Even if your plants prefer warmer weather, a heat wave is a sudden and drastic change that can damage them.
Young plants will be more prone to heat damage and stress than mature plants because of their shallow root systems. They are also less heat hardy.
The best way to protect your plants and garden during a heat wave is by making sure they have a healthy and strong root system. Routinely water your garden throughout the growing season, supplying them with long and slow water that will saturate the ground as deeply as possible.
Deep roots and regular watering allow the plants to access the nutrients and water they need, making them more resilient and less likely to dry out during hot weather.
Plants don’t do well in extreme temperature changes, and it can be hard to bounce back if the roots are distressed. Mulch is a great way to protect plants during a heat wave.
Place a layer of mulch over the exposed soil, and this acts as a buffer between the extreme temperatures of the hot weather and makes sure the soil has a steady temperature. The mulch is also beneficial for preventing runoff and evaporation, which prevents the soil from drying out.
Apply about two inches of organic mulch to your garden. Straw, small bark, shredded leaves, pine needles, and wood chips are great examples of organic mulch you can use.
You also want to create shade for your garden plants to prevent heat damage. Drape bed sheets or a shade cloth over stakes or other similar supports. You can even use a larger patio umbrella or beach umbrella.
This will help block some of the sun without restricting airflow to your plants. You can also move any potted plants you have to a shaded area during extreme heat if they are easy to relocate. And this can also help reduce heat stress and leaf scorch.
How to Protect Plants From Wind
When bad weather comes into play, we often see high winds. A strong and gusty wind is capable of uprooting shrubs, shredding leaves, and tearing off flowers from your garden plants. This makes your plants even more susceptible to other damage like insects and disease.
Constant wind hitting your plants can also pull the moisture from foliage. If you are in an area with freezing conditions or extreme heat, the air temperature and moisture levels also affect how strong wind can damage your plants.
Create a Windbreak
A good way to protect your plants from wind is by building a windbreak or other similar barrier. A windbreak can block a good amount of the wind and won’t cast too much shade over your plants. Make sure you place your barriers at just the right angles so it effectively blocks the wind from the right direction and doesn’t damage plants.
There are also windbreak plants that have multiple stems or dense branches you can get. This kind of living windbreak is more tolerant of high winds and bends without becoming damaged. So, if you are in an area prone to strong winds, consider plants that do well in these windy conditions and avoid planting any vulnerable plant types that can’t stand up against the prevailing wind.
Maintain and Care for Plants
If the plants are exposed to wind regularly, you need to make sure you maintain adequate hydration. You can add mulch to your garden beds to help with this. Pruning your plants, trees, and shrubs is also effective as pruning can reduce the density of the crown, allowing the strong wind to pass through instead of pushing up against your plants or trees.
And there you have it. Now that we have identified the dangers your delicate plants may be facing and offered our solutions on how to remedy these problems, you will be well on your way to protecting your garden as well as your sanity!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been completely updated.