Frost damage warning: Seven signs your garden plants are at risk of severe frost damage

BBC Weather warns fog and frost to hit the UK

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Frost can cause serious damage to garden plants through the winter months. With a flurry of freezing mornings forecast over the coming weeks, there is an even greater risk of frost wreaking havoc in beds, borders and pots. Catching frost damage early can make it easier to reverse – and these are the seven key signs to look for.

How can frost damage plants?

Plants can be damaged or even destroyed when the temperature falls below freezing.

While tender plants are more likely to survive the harsh winter weather, newly planted varieties are more susceptible to severe frost damage.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, strong winds can make frost even more damaging by removing moisture from the foliage and causing leaves to dry out from the tips.

The RHS says: “Plant cells can be damaged or even destroyed by frost. Repeated freezing and thawing, or very rapid thawing can be particularly damaging to plants.”

Sometimes frost damage can be noticed almost straight away, though some plants can take longer to present the physical signs.

Common signs of frost damage on plants

Some plants are more likely to show signs of frost damage while others can conceal physical damage more easily.

One of the easiest ways to identify frost damage is to check the colouring and growth of your plant, but what should you be looking for?

Brown patches on leaves

Young growth can become easily damaged by frost, causing scorching and pale brown patches to appear.

This light brown colouring is most common in between the leaf veins, on the exposed sections of foliage.

The Japanese Maple is most commonly associated with brown-tinged edges on the top of the plant when suffering from frost damage.

Wilted growth

Hard frost which is common in January, can be damaging to even the hardiest varieties of garden plants.

Frost damage can quickly show on evergreen plants through browned leaves and lifeless growth.

Scorched foliage could even lead to the death of the plant and is commonly linked to bay trees and shrubs.

Blackened foliage

Tender perennials like dahlia and canna often suffer from a significant colour change when damaged from harsh frosts.

Look for black foliage and collapsed stems caused by the freezing weather.

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Sparse blossoms

One of the most concerning effects of frost damage is stunted growth.

Young fruits and blossoms will fail to grow when frost causes a corky layer to form at the flower end of the fruit.

Lifeless crops

Towards the end of winter, spring crops can become threatened by the risk of early spring frosts which continue throughout the season.

Damage to summer bedding plants and tender vegetables is easy to spot by the browning leaves, which can quickly replace healthy foliage.

Plant death is also a symptom of frost damage in crops such as potatoes and tomatoes.

Spotted leaves

Prolonged periods of frost are a common occurrence during the winter months, but it can wreak havoc on a number of plants.

According to the RHS, some shrubs such as photinia and garrya are particularly at risk of physical frost damage.

Keep an eye out for spotting on leaves after a spell of freezing weather.

Darkened foliage

Early symptoms of frost damage can stem from the moisture concentration of frost-covered leaves.

Check foliage after a frosty spell to identify water-soaked, dark green and blackened parts of the plant.

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