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Effects Of Our Cold Weather On Our Beloved Plants

By Doug Hensel
Doug's Blog

These past three weeks sure has taken a toll on us gardeners.  It is hard to spend any time outside.  But, most of all, we are all concerned about the health of some of our outdoor plants.

Here we are on the 24th of January.  One bright side to all of this worrisome is that spring is only 56 days away.  Is your glass half full or is it half empty?  Think positive because these cold temperatures could have happened in December when plants were less prepared for winter conditions.  At least, here in January, plants have developed much of their cold hardiness and become hardier.  In other words, 5 degrees in early December can be devastating to a plant, however, the same 5 degrees in mid-January with a slow cool down will have a much less negative effect.

This latest cold snap brought some snow.  Snow cover is a good thing for protecting our plants.  It is like pulling a warm blanket over the plants.

There are a number of factors that play a part in determining cold damage to plants.  The actual hardiness of the plant is paramount in survival.  Exposure to the cold winds is another determining factor.  The health and location of the plant are two more important points in determining cold damage with plants.

Cold damage is hard to predict.  It may not be until April or beyond before we can identify much of the cold damage that has occurred from these cold January days.  Broadleaf evergreens, such as hollies, azaleas, boxwoods, camellias, and rhododendrons, are the most susceptible.  While the roots are frozen the leaves are exposed to cold, dry winds that draw the moisture out.
Conifers, needled evergreens, such as spruce, junipers, cypress, and cedar should show little to no cold damage.

As I stated earlier this month in my January gardening tip blog, we need to stay calm and not overreact and let Mother Nature take her course.  We will know soon enough if we have plants that are affected by all these cold temperatures.  Let’s all hope for the best.

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