As we end winter today and begin a new Spring, I wanted to do a quick review of a product I've invested in the last two years - FreezePruf. When I first heard about FreezePruf a couple of years ago I, like many other people, got very excited about it. Now that I've used it for two years, I have a pretty good idea of how well it works - or doesn't - for select Hardy Tropicals. Here are my quick thoughts on the product and what it both can and cannot do well.
First, let's look at what FreezePruf says it can do. According to one website selling the product, it says, " It’s like anti-freeze, for your plants. A scientific-breakthrough – this eco-safe spray actually improves healthy plants’ natural cold tolerance by approximately 2° to 9° F, depending on the variety of plant and the duration/intensity of frost or freeze event. Developed by botanists, FreezePruf protects the plant externally and internally by enhancing both its natural “anti-freeze” like properties and its ability to survive ice crystal damage. The biodegradable formula is designed to resist washing away by rain or snow and application lasts up to 4 weeks with normal precipitation. It’s like moving your temperature zone 200 miles south! FreezePruf’s easy-to-use, biodegradable formulation and mode of action adds a half-USDA Zone equivalent or more to the cold tolerance range of all major ornamentals and crops. So, a plant that is hardy to the low-to-mid teens Fahrenheit (Zone 8a) can be grown with little or no damage in Zone 7b."
It's an impressive claim, and if you do your research, you'll see that many people have had good success with FreezePruf. So what about us here in central South Carolina?
What FreezePruf DID do well for us
For protecting small (and small is the key word) plants that are already reasonably hardy in your zone, then FreezePruf works great. It's an excellent way to extend the hardiness of smaller plants by a few degrees (2F - 9F degrees). I think the plants you spray must have some resilience to the cold in your area already though, as I believe FreezePruf only enhances that natural protection, it doesn't provide a whole new level of frost/freeze protection like I'd initially thought.
What FreezePruf DID NOT do well for us
In my case, I was trying to use FreezePruf to protect larger and some medium sized plants - just as an experiment. This proved to be quite expensive for starters; but I sprayed several types of bananas, Palms, White Bird of Paradise, Travellers Palms, and other select plants that were a zone or two south of me. Initially FreezePruf protected the plants pretty well, the first frosts didn't seem to bother the plants. But as we got into freezes, I couldn't really tell any difference between those protected by FreezePruf and the controlled plants that had no protection. This could have been for any number of reasons - perhaps I didn't spray enough FreezePruf on the plants, or maybe the types of plants I was trying to protect weren't really what FreezePruf was made to protect. In any event, unless you buy several gallons of FreezePruf, it's tough to protect larger plants in a garden setting.
The bottom line for me was that FreezePruf is not exactly cheap, and thus if I'm going to invest in it, I need it to work well. A gallon (ready to use) is around $30.00 and the concentrate (which makes four gallons) is $99.99. I think if I was going to try and use it to better protect plants like Basjoo, then it would probably work well for me until around 28-29F, but anything colder than that, and I might as well not have sprayed at all. Considering we got down into the lower teens this year in my zone - FreezePruf doesn't do me much good for what I want to protect. As one final test in the coming year, I am going to try and spray it on my Sago Palms and see how they respond. Usually, they burn badly when we hit 20F or below, but perhaps FreezePruf will protect them. I'll follow up on that next winter. But for most of my other hardy tropical plants that come back each spring, I didn't find that FreezePruf protected them precisely the way I wanted. I lost some plants I had hoped FreezePruf might protect - but again, perhaps that was ignorance on my part. FreezePruf isn't designed to keep plants alive in zones where they don't really belong. I think in warmer zones, this product would offer me amazing results - but here, not so much.
Ultimately I would grade FreezePruf a C- grade. Why? Because of the cost and lack of protection, it offered me (for what I wanted to protect) in my zone. Many of the reviews on Amazon and online are very mixed as well, which you can do a quick search to read more about.
So if you're considering using FreezePruf, think about what you're trying to protect before you spray it on. If you're growing plants that are hardy, but not well protected in your zone naturally, you'll probably find, like me, that you won't get a lot of protection. On the other hand, if you're trying to protect smaller plants that are already marginally resiliant to cold in your area, then FreezePruf should work well for you.
If you've used this product and had good, or bad, results, we'd love to hear your thoughts as well.