9 ways to prepare for hail to minimize damage to your western garden
Hail can leave you wanting to yell, “WHHHHYYYYYYYY?????” to Mama Nature. Sometimes, thunderstorms pop up so suddenly, there’s very little that can be done except for cleaning up the damage.
But other times, you may see thunderstorms in the forecast, and you can plan ahead.
In this week’s tip, you’ll find options for how to protect your flowers from hail.
With a little planning, you can reduce hail damage and keep your sanity (and garden) intact.
Here’s how to protect your flowers from hail.
#1: Plant drought-tolerant flowers in your garden.
One of the easiest ways to minimize hail damage and reduce your clean-up after a hailstorm is to plant drought-tolerant flowers.
These waterwise plants are more than just pretty.
Many of them are as tough as heavyweight champs.
You’ll see a few examples of drought-tolerant flowers that are more resistant to hail below: Agastache (often called Hyssop), Coreopsis and Salvia (sometimes called Meadow Sage).
#2: Plant your annuals in flowerpots, rather than in the ground.
Annuals are your flowers that bloom for one summer, but typically don’t return. Unfortunately, they tend to be vulnerable to hail.
When you plant your annuals in pots, you can keep them on covered porches or under overhangs, so they’re out of harm’s way.
If you want to put your pots in your garden, you can quickly move them to a protected spot in a hailstorm (assuming the pots aren’t too heavy).
I pull my pots under an overhang on our porch when severe thunderstorms are in the forecast or when I see red storm cells approaching on the radar.
#3: Proactively move your flowerpots to a protected spot if hail is in the forecast.
I know some of your pots may be too heavy to move, so let’s focus on your pots that aren’t too heavy.
You may want to get “plant caddies” to help you. Nope, you aren’t recruiting anybody from the local golf course. Plant caddies are devices with wheels that make it easier for you to roll your pots.
The home improvement stores often carry plant caddies. You also can google them to find more decorative versions.
If you can pull your pots under a tree, that sometimes helps too.
#4: Cover vulnerable plants in your garden when hail is in the forecast.
You can use a variety of materials to cover your vulnerable plants.
For example, you can:
- Cover your plants with trash cans, laundry baskets, cardboard boxes, buckets, empty flowerpots and plastic storage bins turned upside down.
- Use outdoor lawn furniture to cover your plants.
- Hang fabrics and netting that protect against hail.
Some netting is specifically made for hail, like “anti-hail netting.” But these fabrics can be hard to find when you need them, and they can be pricey.
So, don’t be afraid to get creative!
I know many gardeners who use other fabrics, such as breathable netting from a fabric store or metal hardware cloth.
I even have one neighbor who makes tents over her flowers with old shower curtain liners.
(How’s that for creative?)
Ideally, what you’re trying to do is reduce the force of the hail and lower its kinetic energy, so it does less damage.
Hopefully this goes without saying, but don’t use anything as a cover that you don’t want to get destroyed. If your hailstorm is intense enough, it can damage just about anything.
#5: Don’t cover your flowers for long amounts of time.
If you’re using something that isn’t breathable to cover your plants, don’t keep the cover on for too long.
You don’t want to accidentally cook your flowers, particularly on warm days.
If you’re going to work for the day and hail is in the forecast, cover your plants with a material that’s breathable, like netting. Or, use something like a laundry basket or a lawn chair, so the air can still move and you aren’t trapping heat.
#6: Be on the lookout for thunderstorm clouds.
Thunderstorm clouds start out as tall, white, puffy clouds that resemble cauliflower heads.
Often, right before hail, part of the sky has an aqua green color to it. Check out photo below, so you can see what I mean.
The second I see that aqua color in the sky, I jump into action!
These are your signals to leap into flower plant protection mode if you have vulnerable plants that you want to protect.
#7: Watch for orange, red or purple storm cells on your weather app.
Be on high alert when you see orange, red or purple storm cells on the radar moving your way. These colors indicate severe storm cells.
Hail may not be far behind.
Photo credit: Weather.com
#8: Find a neighbor who shares a love for flowers and create a buddy system.
Let each other know when hail is coming.
#9: Think about what kind of mindset you want to have as a western gardener.
There are two ways to think about hail.
- You can be proactive in trying to prevent it, following tips like these to protect your flowers from hail.
- You can go with the flow. You can choose not to worry about hail, welcoming whatever Mama Nature throws at you — rain some days, hail some others. You’ll let Mama Nature do her thing and see what happens.
Full disclosure, I fall into the first category, but I have friends in the second category, and they certainly have a more carefree gardening experience.
It’s up to you!
If these tips were helpful, you may also like:
- “Hail destroyed my garden. What do I do now?” (How to help your garden recover)
- Are some plants more resistant to hail than others?
Friends don’t let friends take on hail alone
Please share these hail protection tips, so your friends are ready when Mama Nature brings on hail!