Winter is headed back to mid-Missouri for the next week. Hopefully this “do and don’t” list will answer some questions.
Don’t try to cover trees and large shrubs. Any cover is ineffective and may actually cause more damage.
- Flowers will be lost when temperatures go below 27 degrees.
- Flower buds can withstand temps into low 20’s or possibly mid-teens.
- Leaf buds can withstand temps into the teens or colder. Leaves that are emerging but not fully open will be just fine with this projected forecast.
- Full open leaves will be damaged below 25 degrees, but there is nothing that can be done. The tips of the leaf will be burnt but it should still be functional. The worst case scenario is that these leaves are lost, but another set of leaves lay in waiting to come out in warmer weather.
- Newly forming fruit – it is unknown yet what will happen with tiny fruits that are just forming. It depends upon their stage of development. Regardless, there is nothing that can be done.
Do cover short plants (18″ or less). Never use plastic to cover plants. Instead, use sheets, blankets, burlap, or row cover (we have this available at Longfellows).
- If the plants have been outside all winter (daffodils, roses, tulips, peonies), cover if temperatures are going below 25 degrees. Open flowers will be damaged below 30 but buds can take it much colder.
- Newly planted and actively growing plants (full, open leaves), cover if temperatures are going below 30 degrees.
Don’t try to water plants if temperatures are below 27 degrees. And besides, this only works on small plants when preventing frost damage. 26 degrees is a hard freeze and watering actually compounds the problem.
Don’t spray for insects or diseases until this cold spell is past. Temps need to be above freezing when spraying, even at night. Fireblight and other fruit tree sprays can wait, as the diseases and insects aren’t active at these projected temps.
Move any containerized plants indoors. If not enough space with sunlight, plants can stand being in a dark place for a few days.
Staying positive – A couple of ways to look at this upcoming freeze – cut and enjoy as many of the open flowers as you can. And, remember, there are more blooms on the way. Not all is lost.
By the way….this event happens just about every spring….sometimes 3 – 4 times.