The National Weather Service issued a freeze warning today for Maricopa that warns residents to take precautions when it comes to the three P’s: plants, pipes and pets, Phoenix Meteorologist Ken Waters said.
“You’re looking at five consecutive days below freezing,” Waters said.
Rick Gibson, a Cooperative Extension Agent at the University of Arizona, said to cover plants with a cloth, not a plastic tarp, when temperatures drop below freezing.
“The plastic can still allow the cold to come through and damage the plant,” he said. Nurseries sell frost covers that can lie directly on top of plants and won’t transfer the cold.
He also suggested directing a spotlight up through the tree or placing a light bulb underneath the cover.
“It will generate a little more heat,” Gibson said. “But be careful that the light bulbs don’t burn the limbs, leaves or cloths.”
He said the plants to be concerned about are gardenias, hibiscus, citrus, desert cacti, young queen palms and other tropical plants. However, trees or shrubs that have lost their leaves are pretty much dormant and should be okay.
Waters also said citrus is a main concern.
“If you can, cover citrus and pick any fruit,” he said. “Fruit will be gone after a freeze.”
Mark Blatz, owner of MD’s Landscaping and Maintenance, said frost is dangerous for plants.
“They could get frost bitten and if the frost goes down enough, it can kill the plant,” he said
He said if plants die, they can’t be replaced until after March when temperatures start to warm up.
However, Blatz said if a plant or cactus has a little bit of frost on the top, not to be too concerned.
“Don’t cut it off until later in the year when temperatures warm up because the frosted parts act as insulation,” he said.
Pipes are another cause of concern when temperatures are below freezing, Waters said.
“Pipes should be protected by wrapping them and insulating them a little bit,” he said.
He also said to keep water running through the pipes at all times.
“The key is to not let pipes sit with water in them because it can freeze,” he said. “Once that happens, the pipes can split.”For the same reason, Gibson said to turn on the drip irrigation system and keep it running until the freeze is over.
“Water is a little bit warmer than the air so plants also get a little bit of warmth,” he said.
In addition to plants and pipes, Waters said there is one more P to be cautious of.
“Pets need to be protected and not left outside during the freezing temperatures,” he said.