You’ve Got It Covered: 8 Plants to Protect from Frost

Hebe 'Amy'
Hebe ‘Amy’

The first frost of autumn snuck up on Seattle this year. It came almost a week earlier than usual and came in hard. This morning, my outdoor thermometer read 26 degrees at eight o’clock. I was thankful I’d covered my more tender plants. But if you haven’t covered yours, it’s still not too late to do it.

Many of the most common yard plants you don’t need to cover. Throwbacks from the ’70s like lilacs, escallonia, rhododendrons, camellias, abelias, azaleas, barberries, euonymous don’t need protection, but some of the more tropical looking, trendier shrubs that are happier in Zone 8B to Zone 9 do. Here’s a gallery of 8 shrubs that are worth growing in Seattle but usually need protection from frost, especially in the outlying areas. (The city is a bit warmer.) You may have planted one of these because you, like me, were enchanted by their gorgeous foliage and/or beautiful blossoms or you simply inherited them when you bought your house. Keep in mind, these are different from cannas, dahlias, salvias, bananas, phormiums, tetrapanax, melianthus and other tender plants that just need mulch around their roots rather than coverage overhead. And that’s really all you need to do to protect these plants: just throw an old sheet or some other lightweight, preferably light-colored material, not plastic, over the top of the plant, then if needed, weigh down a few corners with clothes pins. All tucked in. Just don’t forget to remove the sheets when the nighttime lows warm up to 33 degrees or above after a few days.

Cistus crispus 'Sunset'
Cistus crispus ‘Sunset.’ Photo from the OSU Plant Database.
Ceanothus 'El Dorado.' Courtesy of OSU Plant Database
Ceanothus ‘El Dorado.’ Courtesy of OSU Plant Database
Lavandula stoechas
Lavandula stoechas
Rosmarinus 'Tuscan Blue'
Rosmarinus ‘Tuscan Blue’
Choisya 'Aztec Pearl'
Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’
Fatsia japonica. Photo from OSU Plant Database.
Fatsia japonica. Photo from OSU Plant Database.
Aucuba Japonica 'Mr. Goldstrike'
Aucuba japonica ‘Mr. Golstrike,’ also ‘Gold Dust’ and ‘Picturata’

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