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Can I Cover Plants with Garbage Bags? (Answered)

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We all have different hobbies that we involve ourselves in when we get some leisure time or on holiday. Of all the hobbies people have, gardening is one of the most popular and rewarding experiences among many. 

However, like all other activities, gardening also has some dos and don’ts – which you can learn by following along!

Can I cover plants with garbage bags?

Do not use any form of plastic covering such as garbage bags or plastic bags to keep your plants from freezing. Covering with garbage bags for one night could damage leaves as they conduct the coldness much faster. Garbage or plastic bags are also poor insulators and fail to keep plants warm.

While taking care of your plants, you will be inclined to use various techniques and items for various purposes such as keeping them warm or keeping them constantly moist, etc. 

Whichever the case may be, covering them with plastic bags or garbage bags could be doing something else than their intended purpose.

Many people are led to believe that they could cover their plants with plastic bags for one night to keep them from freezing and provide sufficient insulation. 

But that is much further from the truth, instead, plastic garbage bags are poor insulating material and often backfire on their purpose. 

Although covering your plants with garbage isn’t generally advised, you can use it as a protective covering against snowfall temporarily in case of unexpected forecasts but you should immediately uncover it the next morning. 

Plastic bags are a poor choice for covering because plants produce water by transpiration which greatly increases the humidity inside the bag.

This additional humidity causes the leaves and the plant to constantly remain wet and since plastic bags are not good insulators, they can instead cause the leaves and the plant to freeze.

Covering the plant with plastic garbage bags is sufficient to protect it from the snow but cannot prevent them from freezing.

Can a plant survive in a plastic bag?

You might often be worried about your plants when you are planning a long trip or won’t be at home for several days, in that case, you can set up your plant in such a way that it can sustain its moisture for several days and survive without any issues.

Plastic bags are made up of polymers that don’t allow moisture to escape out unless there are any holes poked into them. 

This property of the plastic bag could be utilized in such a way to ensure the moisture level of the air and soil around the plant stays high as well as having good air circulation.

Plants can survive in a plastic bag for several days if there are sufficient holes poked into the bag. The plastic bag will trap any water lost by the plant through transpiration, therefore keeping the moisture of air and soil high. 

Meanwhile, the holes will allow fresh air to diffuse in and out of the plastic bag.

Do garbage bags block out light for plants?

Among all the colors, black is notorious for absorbing light to the greatest degree than any other color and can even block out light from passing through. Any material that is coated with black color is also observed to have similar properties and tend to get warm faster.

Garbage bags are black-colored as a standard and also have a bit of thickness which makes them impenetrable for light rays. Some garbage bags might be thin enough to let some light pass through, but they aren’t sufficient for a plant.

Plants require light for various needs and processes such as photosynthesis and covering them with black garbage bags would significantly cut off the source of light. 

However, if the garbage bags are of different colors such as blue or transparent – then they will partially or fully allow lights to pass through them into the plants.

3 reasons why you cannot cover plants with plastic garbage bags

When it comes to protecting your delicate plants from frost or snow or just for any other needs, plastic garbage bags may come across to you as a quick and easy solution. However, there are three significant reasons to not use them described below:

Plastic bags may not be sufficient insulator:

If you plan to use plastic bags as a form of the insulator in order to keep your plants warm then it isn’t the best material to choose. They usually can’t keep the interior warm if the outside temperature is cold. 

Besides, if the plastic bag is in physical contact with the leaves then the outside cold temperature will be directly conducted into the plant.

Not enough light for the plant:

As discussed earlier, garbage bags are typically made in black color which is a great absorber and blocker of light. If you cover your plant with a black plastic garbage bag, then the plant will get little to no light passing through the plastic into its leaves.

Light is an essential element required for the survival of plants – they make their own food using a process called photosynthesis that keeps them alive – and light is one of the main proponents of the process.

Might overheat the plant:

If you keep your plant covered with a plastic garbage bag throughout the night as well as the day, the plastic bag will absorb the light from sunlight and release it both inside and outside the surface.

Plants are vulnerable to both high and low temperatures, so if the temperature inside the plastic bag increases – the chemicals within the plant will stop functioning properly and lead to their leaves becoming slack.

What is the best material to cover plants from frost?

If you are looking to protect your plants from frost, then you should know that plastic garbage bags function very poorly. Instead, you can use the following materials which serve the purpose better:

Cover plants with sheets or blankets:

Covering your plants completely with bed sheets or light blankets can be excellent in keeping the heat emerging from the soil trapped inside the encapsulated area. This heat is sufficient to keep the plant and the leaves from freezing.

You should cover the plants down to the soil with sheets or blankets at night – you can also use stakes to prevent the sheets from touching the leaves if the plant is delicate.

Additionally, you can cover it with plastic bags as well for further insulation. Make sure to remove the sheets in the morning to prevent condensation from building up.

Creating insulation barrier around the plants:

You can create an insulation barrier around the plant if you have enough time before the frost. To do so, first, tie up the plant compactly with woolen thread and then take 3-4 stakes of length as high as the plant.

Stick the stakes around the plant into the soil and wrap the stakes with burlap to fence off the plant. Afterward, fill the interior with either hay or leaves; you can also wrap Christmas lights around the fence to keep the plant warmer.

How do you cover plants for frost warnings?

Preparing your plants ahead of frost warning is a wise move to protect your precious plants and soil. Below are the steps detailing the procedure for covering your plants:

Keep an eye on the frost date and weather forecast:

Before you start preparing any sort of covering for your plants, you should check for the local frost date and the daily weather forecasts to know when it is proper to take action. 

Covering your plants with insulating material way ahead of time can cause the plant to trap heat unnecessarily. 

Preparing your soil and other lifeforms in it:

Keeping the soil exposed to cold temperatures could deplete its benefits and harm the beneficial lifeforms in it. To protect the soil, treat it with mulch such as well-rotted compost or manure 1-2 inches deep.

Make sure the layer isn’t too thick because you want some cold temperature to seep into the soil to keep a proper balance of heat and coolness.

Cover with hoops and row covers:

You can set up hoops over the plantation area to secure row covers on them. Create hoops using sufficient lengths of PVC water pipes secured firmly into rebars that have been hammered into the ground. 

To prevent the hoops from collapsing, attach several pipes perpendicular to the hoops as well. Finally, take row covers as needed to cover the hoops completely and clip the covers to the hoops and the ground.

Final Thoughts

To keep your plants from freezing, avoid using any type of plastic covering, such as garbage bags or plastic bags. Covering leaves with garbage bags for one night may cause harm since they conduct cold much faster than other materials. Garbage or plastic bags are also bad at keeping plants warm.

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