Open Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm / Sun 12pm – 5pm

The (Unfounded) Fear of Fall Freezes


By Paul James

When temperatures drop below freezing gardeners all across Green Country freak out, convinced that everything in their landscape is going to suddenly die overnight. I’ve already been asked a dozen times by friends and neighbors – and five complete strangers at the grocery store — whether they should cover their plants this week. And my response to all of them has been the same.

No. Freezes, even hard freezes this time of year are no big deal, at least so far as the vast majority of landscape plants are concerned. And remember that wind chills have no effect on plants.

Sure, annuals may take a hit, but sooner or later that happens every year around this time (it’s why they’re called annuals). And of course tomatoes, peppers, and other warm-season veggies, assuming you still have any growing, won’t survive. But cool-season veggies should be fine. Same goes for mums and pansies. If temps drop below 25 degrees in your area, the flowers of mums, pansies, and azaleas may take a hit, but the plants will survive.

Trees, shrubs, and perennials actually began preparing for winter several weeks ago as daylight hours started to decline by making physiological changes that enable them to survive freezes. Back in late August, they began to slow their growth and concentrate sugars to begin the process of dormancy, which they’ll continue to do in the weeks ahead. In other words, they’re ready for winter.

So there’s no need to worry about your landscape plants as we (and they) head in to winter. Of course, hard freezes in April or May are another story altogether, because they can be deadly to plants. Let’s just hope I don’t have to write that story come spring.

Spread the love
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  


14
Leave a Reply

avatar
7 Comment threads
7 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
Paul JamesAndy HaleDeb HendelBecky Wigginsjilliwilli Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Teresa Fitzgerald
Guest
Teresa Fitzgerald

Does hold true for plants in pots vs the ground? I worry that they are not as protected as plants that are in the ground.

Cheryl lee
Guest
Cheryl lee

I’ve cut my giant okra back to about a foot tall stalks. Some are like tree trunks about 1-2 innings diameter.
Will they regenerate next year or do I need to get American strongest man to pull them up?
Can I put much over the very full strawberry bed

Amanda Norwood
Guest

What about potted plants? Different story?

jilliwilli
Guest
jilliwilli

The photo is a perfect rendering of my face upon hearing the weather forecast after spending $40 on new mums for my planters earlier in the day–oh well. That’s fall in Oklahoma.

Becky Wiggins
Guest
Becky Wiggins

Thanks Paul for all the great info! We are dropping in Georgia for the next 4 days into the high 30’s to low 40’s and then will bounce back to the mid-50’s after that. I really don’t want to bring my plants in yet. I usually leave them out until late November.

Deb Hendel
Guest
Deb Hendel

We moved to Park Hill in May. When is it too late to plant shrubs or trees, AND do you think all the bulbs I’ve invested in are going to rot with all this rain? I have 2 boxes of Asiatic lilies to plant. But my tulips and daffs I got in right before all this rain. I’m thinking they are lost? What do you think?

Andy Hale
Guest
Andy Hale

As you said at the last presentation "doing nothing is one of your favorite things in the garden". Or I hope I quoted you correctly? Anyway, now is my time to not freak out about the leaves falling on my young fescue seedlings which if it ever stops raining are ready to mow "High" while mulching that beautiful composting leaf material back into the soil. Love your blog.
Andy in the Hills





X