Killing freeze on the way

miclino(5)March 25, 2012

after two weeks of fantastic warm weather. Hyacinth and muscari bulbs starting to bloom. Tulip buds showing. Trees blooming or getting ready to bloom. Hydrangeas showing green. This can't be good. I even planted a bag of cheap dahlia bulbs that is already sprouting!

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laceyvail(6A, WV)

We're due one too tonight. Temps near 80 for all of March. Magnolia 'Daybreak' is opening--it's normally a late April bloomer. Asparagus is coming up--normally first appearance is mid April. The freeze will be catastrophic.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 6:00AM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

The freeze is here. It's now 28*F and snowing with a stiff north wind. The freeze is expected to last at least 36 hours with temps. down in the teens tonight. Fortunately nothing has come up yet - only a few dafodils and peonies which can withstand the cold

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 7:10AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Yep. Nothing we can do about it. It is what it is.

I'll have to pull my potted plants in the garage tonight. Most of my tulips aren't opening yet, maybe I'll throw some pots over them tonight for protection. Other than that, plants are on their own over here. Fortunately, I believe the freeze is only predicted for tonight in my area - ?

The magnolias bloomed last week, they were gorgeous but are starting to peter out around here now - those will be toast. Not sure about other flowering trees and such. Daffs will be fine.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 9:19AM
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mistascott(7A VA)

We are expecting a light freeze down here in the Mid-Atlantic. A ton is already in bloom or blooming including muscari, tulips, and Kwanzan Cherry (too big to cover). My azalea is budding. Carolina Jessamine is in bloom. Tender shoots of perennial balloon flower are emerging from the ground. I have to decide what to try to protect. Right now, I plan on covering the jessamine, platycodon (balloon flower), azalea (buds), and muscari. Do you think tulips will be okay in light frost?

I feel for those of you up north who are getting a much deeper freeze. There is only so much we can do when nature decides to send cold air our way after so much warmth. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Being that I am still new to gardening I am not sure to what level I should go around tonight covering what has come out of the ground with newspapers, blankets, whatever I can find etc.

Can someone further elaborate if I am going a little crazy? I was planning on covering the hydrangea and the hosta pins that have come up.

What about other perennials that have started to poke up like asters, rudbeckia, echinacea etc. Do I need to be worried about covering EVERYTHING or should I just do what I can and let mother nature decide what goes?

Thanks for the input!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 3:37PM
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I've got sheer curtains attached with clothespins to the sprouted stems of my hydrangeas & weighed down with rocks over my euphorbia. The hosta will get the same treatment as the cushion spurge. I cut the bottom off a recycled milk jug and set it over my Maltese cross that's up. Used a rock to hold that in place as well. My magnolia just started to bloom the past couple of days so I know that will be toast.

I brought as many pots of perennials that had sent up new growth as would fit onto the covered breezeway including Echinacea 'Hot Papaya.' My Echinacea 'Pow Wow Wild Berry' is just barely up so I covered both clumps with large, light-colored pots weighed down with bricks. The rest will have to survive on their own I'm afraid.

ATekk - do what you can to protect newly-emerged perennials with bed sheets if that's all you've got to work with. Cardboard boxes work too. I use the curtain sheers because they're lightweight and let some light through during the day.

Fingers crossed and good luck everyone.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 5:30PM
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mistascott(7A VA)

The general rule is that if you are going 28 degrees or below for more than 3 hours, you need to cover tender-leafed perennials. Most plants can survive 3 hours at 29 or above. We are supposed to be at freezing or slightly below for 6 hours. I am going to cover all I can, but there are some things that are too hard to cover and will just hope for the best.

An old trick is to fill up milk jugs with warm water and set them near the plants (preferably under a covering). The water takes longer to cool than the surrounding air and will release heat throughout the night.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 8:26PM
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Getting into the car today it was -5 C (23 F) and it was at least this cold during the evening and yet there was no frost on the ground and no scraping needed on the car windows. I am not complaining but how does this happen?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:39AM
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No scraping means it's fairly dry and so no condensation.

In any case, it looks like it didn't freeze here, so everything is OK. I guess covering the plant is the usual way of protecting the plant, but I suppose you can't do this for tree.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 8:05AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I got up this morning and didn't see any frost - ?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 9:08AM
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Didnt see frost this morning but I wasn't up very early. How do you know if there was a freeze and damage occurred? I'm in SE Michigan

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 10:50AM
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We've got a remote digital outdoor thermometer... I find it very useful. The sensor is outside and the display is indoors. It records the highest and lowest temps of the day (since midnight) so I always check to see what the low was. When I checked this morning around 8 am, the low since midnight was 21. It was 24 at that time. The high since midnight was 27 (which must have occurred right around midnight.) I watched and temps started dipping below 32 at around 6 pm yesterday. Right now it's 31 at a little after 11 am. So, we've had 17 hours of freezing temps, with a hard freeze last night.

NO frost though, because it's so dry. In fact we have a "fire weather warning" in effect because it's so dry. This is very unusual around here (in fact the last warning we had, a few days ago, was the first I'd ever noticed.) Normally when it's this dry there is a layer of snow on the ground so fire isn't a big danger.

I just last week (85 degree weather) jumped the gun and removed all the leaves which had been piled up on my Endless Summer hydrangea to protect it during the winter. It had leaf buds all over it which were beginning to open. They've since opened a bit more - I covered this with a sheet and will hope for the best. I was stupidly convinced that no freeze would come, so I removed the protective cover early.

The daffodils along my foundation are up and partially in bloom... the ones that are most open bent over during the freeze and the flowers are brushing the ground now. I hope they come back, but losing them wouldn't be as big a loss as losing a whole season of blooming on another plant.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:25AM
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We went down to about 30F early this morning. That might have been enough to finish off the magnolias (which had been blooming beautifully for close to a week and were beginning to get past peak anyway) but I can't think of anything else that would be seriously affected by that kind of frost.

Now, a few years back around April 10 we had a freeze down into the low to mid-20s after a spell of warm weather and I had to pile straw on a few things. That had a lot more potential for trouble, but no significant harm was done.

Nature endures.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Hydrangeas look like they have been burned pretty bad. Same goes for new growth on centranthus, agastache and variegated sedum to varying degrees.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:23PM
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ridgetop01(z5 CNY)

My variegated silene suffered - didn't check the Endless Summer hydrangea, but it was leafing out. I hope it comes back. On the other hand, fritillaria and dracunculus vulgaris are fine so far. I too was lured into uncovering things in the false hope that there wouldn't be another killing frost - silly, silly me. sigh....

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:31PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I wouldn't feel too silly, if you hadn't of uncovered the plants you would end up with yellow spindly growth underneath the old leaves and stuff.

It went down to about 24 here pretty much below freezing all night and into the late morning. Hydrangeas and butterfly bushes look real bad now, it may be a while until they resprout. Some new growth on the roses has been killed, Sprouts on some hostas are mushy, a few windburned hellebores....... other than that things look fine. (except for the brown magnolia blooms)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 9:15PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

If you hadn't covered the plants, they would be less advanced. They would have stayed dormant longer, so would have been less likely to suffer damage.

So far I haven't found any damage. Amazingly that includes the magnolia flowers.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:03PM
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mistascott(7A VA)

We had a light frost here in the Mid-Atlantic as predicted Monday night. Down to 31 degrees at 4 am, stayed there until about 8. Only damage so far was to my hydrangea which I thought would be fine since it usually starts to leaf out before things warm up in spring, but it had some damage. I should have covered it. Oh well, anyone that has had damage -- do the macrophylla tend to bloom despite the frost damage?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:47AM
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lupinguy(s ontario)

I covered averything first with old pots of boxed then covered wth blankets, Under the lower tied I place 3 buckets of boiuling hot water. The one moreing it was 28f under the plastic witht he buckets it was about 38F

Under the bother blankets that I couldn't fit bunckets I filled old water bottled with hot water and placed them underneither. it reall seemes to help. A lot of people have been tellig me that i don't need to cover my perennials but I didn't want to take the chance.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 12:46PM
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Another freeze warning tonight! The weather is determined to kill whatever didn;t survive the first round!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 10:31PM
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The wind was blowing so hard it lifted the sheer curtains I had clothespinned to my hydrangeas so some of the emerging leaves are turning black. It wasn't fully leafed out so hopefully it'll recover. Amazingly my magnolia buds & blooms show no apparent damage even though it's growing out in the open with nothing to shelter it.

Unlike lizzie_nh and ridgetop01, the past few weeks I've talked myself out of removing the fallen leaves and straw I used to protect my perennials & butterfly bushes over winter by repeating the worry about a hard freeze. It sure was tempting on those days the thermometer showed 78 - 80 degrees but I kept thinking about the date and that it was just way too early to do it. Big sigh of relief.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 8:01AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I didn't notice much difference between the cleaned up and still protected areas of the garden. Hydrangeas that were cleaned up were just as damaged as those which were still surrounded by mulch and leaf litter. Actually the worst damage on butterfly bushes was on an unpruned, well mulched plant..... But it was a younger, more vigorous plant and all the new growth was already kicking in full swing. The older plants which were pruned a few weeks ago look much better, probably because I cut back to old wood which is a little slower to sprout.

I'm worried about the wisteria now, ever since the freeze all the flower buds look a little droopy and limp.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:15PM
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There is no need to fear or panic. Just go buy some plastic sheeting from your local hardware store. Then copy and paste the URL below into your web browser. Type your zip code into the search field and press Enter. Scroll down on the page that is pulled up and you can see a forecast for this weeks frost and freeze risks in your area. Since the weather can change suddenly, make sure you check it everyday until all danger of frost has passed. If you see a chance of freeze or frost, then the night before go outside and cover your plants with the plastic and everything should be fine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Weather Channel Garden Forecasts

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 4:30PM
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Another freeze warning tonight. How much more can the plants take? They are starting to look pretty beat up

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 9:11PM
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All my white spirea shrubs got nipped, in the bud that is. The only one that might have blooms is in front on the half that sits closest to the side of the house. However, they seem to still be leafing out so maybe there will be a few blooms on the others as well.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 3:28PM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

Plastic may not always be your best choice of peotection. From Harvest Supply:

Plastic can be used to protect plants from frost, but it�s not the best or most effective material, and some expert gardeners warn against it. Plastic or vinyl materials do not breathe, causing moisture to get trapped inside. If the temperature drops low enough, the increase in moisture presents a greater threat to the plants. Instead of plastic, try using natural fabrics like cotton or linen, an opened burlap bag, or newspaper, as a covering to protect plants from frost.

A fabric covering will allow moisture to escape but will still protect plants from frost by preventing the freezing air from coming into direct contact with the moisture. Bed sheets work well for covering large plants and shrubs, as well as young sprouts. Newspaper can be used on low-growing foliage, but won�t stay on top of larger plants well.

In a pinch, you can use plastic sheets, but be sure to remove the plastic covers early in the morning to let the increasingly warmer daytime air reach the plants. If the threat of frost is prolonged and temperatures remain low during the day, be sure to use a fabric covering. When there is a threat of frost, cover your plants before sunset.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 4:47PM
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My winter sown spirea is fully leafed out but appears to have survived the freeze in good order. One is growing in a large container set up against the house while it gets some size to it, the other is planted in the ground, out in the open, and that one doesn't look quite as good. This is only their second season grown from seed so I don't expect any bloom this year which I'm guessing is just as well.

My magnolia tree appears to have shrugged off the freeze and continues to bloom as if the weather had been mild all along. As they say, don't look a gift horse in the mouth so I'm just whispering thanks and enjoying the blooms. The hydrangeas are another, ugly, story altogether. (:-(

I only cleared away winter debris & mulching straw from one bed along the south & eastern foundation. The remaining beds still have their winter layers of leaves and straw but I did finally cut back all my butterfly bushes. Only one is nursery-grown; the rest were winter sown and therefore tougher than nails. All appear to have weathered the weather but I winter sowed seeds harvested from my 'Black Knight' as a back-up in the event I lose one for any reason.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:20PM
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Not to be repetitive but expecting ANOTHER freeze tonight! So very annoying.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 7:20PM
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Bummer! Best of luck, sending warm thoughts & hope everything's okay in the a.m. Our forecast is calling for nighttime temps in the 40's the next several counting on them being right.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 7:55PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I got smoked by a freeze on Tues therms. said 21 and 23. The recorded low was 28 but with a 7' Katsura already showing black leaves its not good.

Even those weedy native Populars are all wilted.

April lows to date...

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 10:40PM
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