ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Tips for Protecting Plants From Late Freeze

Updated on February 22, 2020
rebeccamealey profile image

Rebecca is a retired special education teacher, a freelance writer, and an avid recycler.

Source

It's not nice to be fooled by Mother Nature.

Helping Plants Survive Cold Spells After Blooming

It's is the time of year when those who love to grow plants are anxious to get started. The quicker that tomato seedling gets in the ground, the sooner we are rewarded with a ripe, juicy red tomato.

An unseasonably warm spell can cause buds to swell open and green shoots to pop up from the ground. Then suddenly a cold snap, or Blackberry Winter, as old-timers say, blows in to delay our spring dreams. Fortunately, there are steps to take when Mother Nature fools us with warm temperatures too soon. There are even steps to take when her trickery appears to have gotten the best of us.



Blackberry winter or dogwood winter is a name coined in old Appalachia that refers to a traditional late winter “cold spell”

Late freeze can kill tender buds.
Late freeze can kill tender buds. | Source

Can Plants Survive Cold Spells After Blooming?

Mid-February to mid-April can be tricky times for gardeners. Is is too soon to plant? How can we protect our plants from Mother Nature’s tricky weather? What to do if we mess up?

The weather in many growing zones is a roller coaster ride from mid-February to mid-April. This can be unfortunate for those who love gardening.



How Can Late Season Free Damage Plants?

Plants turn soil, air, light, and water into necessary nutrients. This process takes place in the leaf of the plant. Frost and ice freeze the water in plant cells, causing damage to the plant at the cellular level. Cell walls in the leaves will become dehydrated and render the plant unable to produce nutrients.

The amount of damage depends upon the following factors: length and warmth of the unseasonable warm spell, severity and duration of the cold snap, and the hardiness of the plant. The more warm days that occur during the period the more plants will begin to bud and bloom. A very short not-so-severe cold snap after a short warm-up is not likely to hurt hardier plants. But a longer, more severe cold snap after a longer warm-up will most definitely hurt less hardy plants. It’s a game of weights and ratios and the gardener has to pay attention to many factors to beat Mother Nature’s dirty tricks.

Where to Protect Plants From Late Freeze

First and foremost, the gardener will need to be aware of the hardiness zone they are planting in. Zone maps show where certain plants can adapt and thrive permanently. The zones can be found on the internet, in gardening books, and on seed packages. Each zone moves 10 degrees warmer or colder. There are 11 zones in North America ranging from a low temperature of a possible -50 degrees below zero in zone one to rarely dipping below 40 degrees above zero in zone 11. In Europe, the zones are numbered 3 to 10 and range from Finland to southern Spain, Italy, and Greece. Possible lows range from -40 below zero to rarely dipping below 30 degrees above. All temperatures listed are Fahrenheit.

If you are unsure of your own hardiness zone, type in your zip code to find out. Use the zone map as a general guideline and take into consideration variations for higher elevations as these areas tend to experience colder temperatures. Some meteorologists have recently suggested that these zones are shifting with the warming of the planet, and you may be able to safely move your planting into one zone warmer.

Source

An Ounce of Prevention

The savvy gardener prepares for Mother Nature’s fickleness in the fall and begins with mulching. Suggestions for mulching materials include dead leaves, pine straw, hay, and wood shavings. Mulch will act as a blanket for sensitive plants.

Mulching Tips For Winterizing Plants

In the fall, pull out old mulch to replace with new mulch. For rose bushes, add mulch mixed with soil for 12 inches of the trunk from the ground to the crown. For young fruit trees or other tender new trees, create a cage of chicken wire around the tree and fill this with mulch. When mulching, leave some space around stems to help prevent root rot. Some tender plants can’t handle a lot of mulch. Be careful not to smother them. Remember, plants need air!

Raised beds are a good way to prevent damage to plants from late freeze.
Raised beds are a good way to prevent damage to plants from late freeze. | Source

Plan Ahead For The Most Delicate Plants

Resist the urge to plant too soon. if you have to begin seedlings over those veggies will be even later. Keep plants that you are attempting to grow that are not native to your zone in large containers that can be relocated to a warmer basement or indoors. rosemary, pomegranate, avocado, poinsettias, and citrus trees are popular choices for gardeners but are plants native to warmer climates.

Remember that bulbs planted in pots are more likely to freeze than those planted in the ground. they won’t have the insulation provided by the ground or by an early snowfall. Consider planting spring-flowering bulbs later (daffodils, hyacinths, tulips) so that they sprout later and miss early freeze.

Have materials on hand for building a cold frame. a simple one can be constructed using cinder blocks or bales of hay for the sides and an old glass window or door for the top. Construct raised beds for your early spring planting of tender plants. They are more easily covered and cold air will tend to sink around the bottoms.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      16 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thanks for these useful tips to handle the weather's short time unpredictable turnaround.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      17 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      thanks, Linda. Yes, I suppose it's the opposite of Indian Summer.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      17 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing the useful ideas, Rebecca. I've never heard of the term "blackberry winter" before. I think it's a lovely term, even though it may be a nuisance for gardeners.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      17 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I saw where you did. Thanks, Susan.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      17 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Yes, the weather can get crazy as far as temps go this time of the year. Thanks for commenting!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      17 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      That's true. And then some things you can start indoors. I don't know if I mentioned that. I should go back and check. Thanks!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      17 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I know. I always wait. But partly because I'm a procrastinator. Our growing season is long, though, so no rush!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      17 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      You're welcome!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      17 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very informative article and one that I'll share with a gardening group I belong to on Facebook.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      17 months ago from USA

      One day it’s in the 60s then it’s snowing. The weather is so unpredictable. This hub is beneficial given the ups and downs we’ve been experiencing.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      17 months ago from Dubai

      Thank you for sharing these valuable tips to protect plants from the late season freeze. It is tempting to plant seeds as soon as the sun shines but I guess it is better to wait and see if such a weather is stable.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      17 months ago from Houston, Texas

      This optimum planting time is a gardener's dilemma each year when trying to outguess Mother Nature. You have offered some good tips here

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      17 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      You're welcome, Perpspycacious!

    • profile image

      Perpspycacious 

      17 months ago

      Valuable tips. Thanks for sharing.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)