Gardeners are talking to each other about the cold weather they experienced around the Christmas holidays. Our weather was so mild that our plants did not feel dormant at all. My subtropical plants, like Cuban Gold Duranta, are still golden and beautiful, so I decided not to cut them back until my Christmas visitors saw the garden. has also passed and is always suitable for photo backgrounds.
Usually at this time of year it’s cold enough that almost everything goes dormant for the winter. The combination of soft, warm growth of plants, a temperature drop of 50 degrees overnight, and a lack of precipitation that freezes onto leaves to protect against the bitter cold is a recipe for disaster. Despite long periods of cold temperatures in Jackson, snow and ice are rarely absent. We take damage from these ice events, but not as much as this blister.
I see plants turning brown every day that I thought would never show signs of burning in the cold. was Driving around town for damage, it seemed fine at first. The next day, the usually dark green of sasanqua, confederate jasmine, ligstrum, distilium and other traditionally hardy plants began to turn different shades. The next day they were all a little more golden and other plants like my bamboo turned tan.
I have never seen my 20 year old azaleas affected by the cold. It became a new brown color reminiscent of coffee. The tops of my yews are charred, but fortunately they are mostly unaffected. I imagine that the azalea buds that are starting to get fat probably won’t do very well. Azaleas that bloom later than other cultivars will probably still flower.
Many of the long-term effects of this past cold spell were due to the placement in the garden, whether there was something else between the plants and the north, such as another plant, wall, courtyard, etc., how much new growth the plants had. It depends on many things. That time and how much sunlight the plant receives during thawing. I don’t know what anyone can do to protect the widespread vegetation that has been affected. We picked and chose a few that we really cared about and even thought we had a chance with.
We put some of our favorite potted plants in the garage, but it felt just as cold outside. At night, the wind picks up so quickly, and soon it falls, that I find the cotton sheets have little chance of staying. has done more harm than good. Frost cloth is the best way to cover things and bed sheets are the next best. Plastic is the worst way to cover plants as it can actually damage them.
I know what it feels like to be caught with your pants down when you realize too late that a cold front is approaching, even though weather forecasters have been trying to warn us for days. I’ve done my best to defend myself with whatever I have at hand so that Mimi doesn’t know I’m ill-prepared. To reduce the stinky moments, I’ve gone ahead and invested in rolls and rolls of frost cloth, placing them in strategic spots in my yard so that when the time comes, I’ll be able to fuss over them next winter. kept in a barn for
This time I decided to let nature take its course and see what happens.
Normally, plants draw more water into their roots for winter, increasing the concentration of sugars in their leaves that act as antifreeze for evergreens. This prevents ice crystals from forming inside the plant cells. Our plants didn’t have time to react, so the plant cells froze, causing ice crystals. Pointy and sharp, they expand when water freezes, pushing them outward and creating holes in the cell walls. Sufficient cell damage results in tissue damage, leading to plant damage or even death. It may take several months before the extent of the damage is really known.
I believe patience will be our best friend now.I’m not going to prune anything yet. Remember, you probably don’t want to encourage new growth, as a more serious cold could be coming. I have always used plant damage as a cover for my next plant. freezing. It’s not pretty, but it’s best to sit tight now.
If you have some perennials that you’ve been holding off pruning, it’s okay to go ahead and clean them up, but I’d wait for the woody ones. Thin ones may not show damage until much later in the spring, and may not show damage until a year later. I truly believe that almost all of these shades of brown have fallen off and look terrible.I think most woodies will put back their leaves in late spring, like May, so you can still use your brown garden. Please don’t get depressed about
Mimi and I try to see this as a learning moment. The plant should regrow or replace the leaves. This gives you the opportunity to refresh the soil and redesign some areas if necessary. Such a decision was made for me this year. It’s a nice, clean start to spring, but I’m going to wait until the last minute to do it all. The regular winter pruning date of February 5th remains unchanged. Roses, crape myrtle, and all regulars still get heavily cut back. Azalea plans to leave her alone until mid-May.
Many sad poems have been written about the weather troubles of gardeners. We shouldn’t be too surprised when she decides to shake things up a bit. It will remind you who you are.
For now, the color of the day is brown. Take a picture, look back at your garden in June, and understand that you can usually worry too much about what will work out in the end.