Roller Coaster Weather
By Paul James
Today’s high should hit 85 degrees. Tomorrow temps will tumble into the low 40s. And freezes are in the forecast for early next week. But as we all know, such temperature swings this time of year aren’t all that unusual. And while we may not be ready for such wacky weather, plants are. In fact, they’ve been preparing for it for weeks.
That’s why 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.)
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.
Sure, annuals may take a hit, but sooner or later that happens every year around this time (it’s why they’re called annuals). But cool-season veggies and perennial herbs will be fine. Same goes for mums and pansies. (I will be harvesting my basil today and making a batch of pesto.)
So there’s no need to worry about your landscape plants as we (and they) head into 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.
Happy gardening, ya’ll.
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