Is it too warm too soon. How will it affect our plants.
I am not going to sugar coat this.
I am deeply concerned about this really, really warm weather this early in the year. It’s beautiful outside. Spent some time on the porch yesterday. It was really, really nice out. Pam, my wife, had a knee replacement and is only two days out of the hospital but even she made it to the porch for a while. Her dad knows that I’m a little overwhelmed right now so he decided to rake up the little branches under our Golden Curls Willow tree that is leafing out!!! It has leaves!
My father in law will be 84 in May and he’s raking up my lawn! He just loves to help and that’s all he knew to do. He’s a good guy.
My neighbor has a Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry that will be in full bloom later today or tomorrow. The buds on my Japanese maples are swelling.
This is not good as far as I’m concerned. In all honesty, I am deeply concerned. But as I was fretting about it this morning Pam reminded me that there isn’t a thing I can do about it.
So what’s the danger?
Frost usually doesn’t affect most hardy shrubs that have started leafing out. But a hard freeze, below 32 degrees F. can be devasting, and if we can make it to mid May without a hard freeze that will be nothing short of a small miracle if you ask me. After all, here in northern Ohio temperatures in the twenties are pretty common in April. So if we some how dodge that, we need to thank our lucky stars.
So . . . how do we protect plants from freeze or frost damage once they have started to leaf out? Some things we can protect, others we cannot. The ground is warm. Ground heat is a handy thing to have and we can take advantage of it to protect flowers, small plants, and low growing shrubs. If you suspect frost or even a hard freeze you should cover any plants that you are concerned with. Don’t use clear plastic at all when the sun is out. The clear plastic will only create more heat. But blankets, tarps and drop cloths work great. So do frost blankets if you happen to have any or can get them.
Cover the plants completely and weight down the edges of the covering. Not only are you trying to protect the top of the plant from the air temperatures or frost, but you are also trying to trap as much ground heat as you can, creating a micro environment around your plants.
Small trees and shrubs in your landscape can also be covered. Whether or not you can cover them to the point that you can do the same and trap in ground heat really depends on the size of the cover you use. But just covering the flowers and leaves will protect them from frost. A hard freeze that lasts for more than an hour or two you may not be able to protect them from that.
Other plants and taller trees in your yard, is there anything you can do?
When plants get covered with a coating of frost you can actually take a garden hose and rinse the frost off the plants and this actually helps. Often times with frost the damage occurs when the sun comes up and hits the frost covered leaves or blooms. The frost itself doesn’t do the actual damage. It’s the sun shining through the frost that burns the plants.
But you have to start this rinsing process before the sun comes up. You have to do it before the sun comes up.
Around here strawberry growers keep irrigation lines set up in the strawberry fields just for that purpose. When they think there’s a chance of frost overnight they are up at 4:00 am to start the water running. Often times the strawberry plants are completely covered with ice from the running water. But they just keep applying the water until it warms up enough that the ice melts away and the strawberry blooms are safe for another day.
Grape farmers actually take old airplane engines and mount them on a stand at the end of their fields and when they think there is going to be a frost they go out in the middle of the night and fire up those engines, with airplane propellers, to create wind over the wind to keep the frost from settling in.
So when you go to buy some strawberries this summer or grapes in the fall, and the price seems high, think about all the things the growers do to make sure they have a fruit crop to sell.
So . . . if you think some of the plants in your landscape might be damaged by a frost or a freeze, try to cover them. If you can’t cover them get out there before the sun comes up and rinse the frost away.
And now, we all have to keep our fingers crossed. These plants are leafing out way too soon.
I am deeply concerned and some what powerless. Such is nature. And nature does so much for us that we should be thankful for, we just have to roll with this and make the best of it.
And that’s why I love growing plants. Because no matter what happens I always have a huge supply of plants that impress and amaze me everyday. Click here to join the excitement.
As always, stay inspired!