We recently suffered a severe hard freeze after our trees had already leafed out! Will the trees recover on their own, or is there something I can do to help? The leaves are brown and shriveled on all my small ornamental trees and most all shrubs. Please HELP!!!
The first few spring-like days of the year always get me excited. I eagerly anticipate the first blooms of the season
peeking out to brighten the drab winter landscape. But as I gear up for the coming gardening season, I have learned to keep a watchful eye on the weather. In order to clean out the old and bring in the new season, the weather can make some dramatic changes in a very short period of time and so it is a good idea to be prepared.
If your garden is subjected to some unseasonably warm temperatures that have caused some early blooming or leafing
out of your landscape plants and then freezing weather is predicted, you need to jump into action. It’s time to break out the frost blankets, add a couple inches of mulch, move container plants to a garage or enclosed area and make sure everything that needs water is well hydrated several hours before freezing temperatures occur.
Even with all these precautions, there will be times when the frost will still damage the plants.
If you see shriveling, browning or blackening in the leaves or stems of your plants, that is a sign of damage from freezing. There is very little that you can do now except wait as recovery has more to do with the plant and how it
handles the extent of the damage. Healthy trees and shrubs should produce additional growth within a few weeks. For
perennials, as long as roots and crown were not harmed, they will also show signs of new growth in a few weeks. You can check for pliable branches, but wait at least 1 or 2 months after the plant should have come out of dormancy before making a determination whether the roots are dead and you remove it. Pruning will not revive a damaged plant.
The plant will repair itself so wait until new growth appears, and that will guide you where to prune. At that time trim away dead and damaged branches, and to enhance the natural look of the plant.
It never fails, every spring the same story unfolds. Just when warm spring weather seems to be the norm, a sudden cold snap will hit wiping out all the early blooms. But we don’t have to play the victim to this recurring tale; there are ways to protect the plants in the garden from untimely visits from Jack Frost.
To protect blossoms on shrubs like azaleas that are in full bloom spray them with a light mist of water, and then cover them with plastic sheeting. In effect you are creating a little greenhouse without any ventilation. Just make sure you remove the plastic before the sun heats things up in the morning.
Cool weather crops like lettuce, onions, broccoli, cauliflower and English peas, shouldn’t be bothered by a light frost, but need protection if extreme or extended periods of cold are in the forecast. You can cover them with plastic milk cartons or, if you remember how to make them, those funny little newspaper hats you created as a child are great for protecting young plants. Just place one over the plant the night before, and pull some earth up around the corners to help anchor it. Again, it is important to remove any covering from the plant before the day gets warm.
Now, one last thing. Never let your young transplants go through a cold night dehydrated. Make sure they are well watered before the sun goes down.
With these tips you don’t have to let an untimely frosts ruin your garden. Just give your tender plants a little extra, temporary protection.
Protecting the plants in our gardens against an early frost is an autumn ritual we’re all familiar with. Draping the garden with old sheets, plastic and even newspaper for a little protection is the common defense. But there is a product available that makes sheltering our plants from chilly temperatures much easier.
Fabrics often referred to as garden blankets, or quilts, have been designed to help keep vulnerable plants snug in the garden.
Now there are some advantages to using garden blankets over plastic in a fall garden. Plastic can damage plants on warm, sunny days. The heat builds up under the plastic and if it touches the leaves they can be scorched. Unlike plastic sheeting you can leave garden blankets on plants without harming them. The lightweight material allows air, water and sunlight through, all of which are vital for plant growth.
Garden blankets come in various weights. One of the heaviest can provide frost protection down to 24 degrees F.
Not only can they help when frost threatens, but they will also allow your young plants a chance to get off to a good start by protecting them from insects, rabbits, birds, and other wildlife who can make your garden one of their favorite places to snack.
By covering your plants with garden blankets in the fall, you can help to extend the gardening season and since they are so durable, with a little care, you can use them year after year.