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Grab your frost cloths! Chilly temperatures predicted for Sacramento

Overnight lows near freezing put poinsettias at risk

This display by the Sacramento County master gardeners shows how to protect a young citrus tree with frost cloth and/or old-fashioned Christmas lights. In practice, the cloth would be pulled completely over the tree on all sides.

This display by the Sacramento County master gardeners shows how to protect a young citrus tree with frost cloth and/or old-fashioned Christmas lights. In practice, the cloth would be pulled completely over the tree on all sides. Kathy Morrison

Bring in those poinsettias and pumpkins. It’s time to spring into frost protection mode; we’re going to get chilly.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento and its surrounding areas can expect areas of frost in the early hours of the morning Saturday through Tuesday. We’re officially under a frost warning from 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday morning.

Overnight lows are expected to dip into the low 30s every night from Friday through Tuesday.

“Near to below freezing overnight/morning temperatures will return to the Valley tonight and continue through the middle of next week,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Friday morning. “Be sure to take the necessary precautions to protect pets, plants and people, especially for the vulnerable populations!”

In Sacramento, the lowest temperature currently predicted is 33 degrees in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. That’s not quite freezing, but cold enough to burn the leaves and bracts of tender poinsettias. It also can speed the decay of decorative pumpkins. To avoid damage to either, bring them indoors.

Also provide frost protection for tender new seedlings such as newly transplanted cabbage or lettuce. Slip a plastic milk jug over the whole plant; it becomes an instant mini greenhouse.

Provide protection for succulents or any remaining pepper or tomato plants. They’ll definitely feel the chill.

Bring container plants indoors or put under cover. Use cloth sheets (not plastic) for temporary protection. Make sure to remove these sheets during the day so plants don’t overheat and smother.

Except for succulents, water frost-tender plants in the late afternoon before a chilly night is predicted. That extra moisture raises the soil temperature just enough to avoid frost burn.

For more tips on freezing and frost: https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/GARDEN/ENVIRON/frostdamage.html.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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