‘This freeze is going to do some damage,’ local farmer explains how to protect plants

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He said there is no telling how much damage there will be, but time will tell

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Planting season kicked off in early April, but now that the weather has turned bitter cold with snow flurries, are those flowers, fruits, and trees in trouble?

In the last few weeks, we have seen some beautiful weather, and some people started planting. But things have changed this week as colder temperatures and snow moved in.

Don Kushner is the owner of Kushners Garden and Patio. He says this weather has brought things to a halt for now.

“We had all this great weather beforehand, and it really pushed out a lot of stuff. A lot of fruit trees and everything right now are all blooming. This could take care of a lot of the fruit,” Kushner said.

With temperatures getting into the mid-20s Wednesday night, Kushner says you can take extra care of your plants by taking them inside if you can and try to keep them warm.

“Cover a lot of this stuff with a blanket or some type of cloth. Maybe try to hold some of that heat in that’s built up during the day. This freeze tonight is going to do some damage,” Kushner said.

He says the freeze tonight could destroy plants that have already bloomed like magnolias. And there won’t be as many blooms in years past. The good news is other plants will accept this cold, adapt and grow through it.

“It’s going to knock off some of the leaves that are on there, now. Normally, that will die and they’ll push new leaves, but it will not be as good as it was,” Kushner said.

He said there is no telling how much damage there will be, but time will tell.

More tips on protecting plants include: (Source: OSU Extension)

  • Vegetables that are in the ground – Cover if you can, as the expectation is 28 degrees F. Cover with a sheet, not plastic. Use rocks/bricks on edge to hold in the heat coming from the ground – that is your best bet to keep the plants warmer as the air temperature gets lower.
  • Smaller plants and certain types of vegetables have lower temperatures. Usually, these are the ones we have planted this time of year.
  • Fruit Trees – Peaches are vulnerable, as they are past full bloom now. 28 degrees F is the threshold for a 10% kill of the bloom/fruit. If it gets below that, there can be a significant loss, but it depends on how cold and the location of the tree. If not planted in the proper location (on a ridge or up, out of low areas where cold air collects), there can be more damage.
  • Annual plants – Generally, these can be taken inside and put in the garage. Put as much inside as possible
  • Landscape plants – Almost all plants already growing outside will be just fine. Some may lose flower buds if they are low to the ground or in bloom right now. In general, new growth of trees/shrubs in our area can survive temperatures into the mid 20’s. There are some exceptions, such as macrophylla hydrangeas (the florist types) that will loose buds and be set back for later bloom if they are the reblooming type. Tulips may have some damage, depending on which ones. The one thing to remember is – if the leaves of these plants are damage (turn brown/white), then be extra cautious about leaving the foliage alone – do not cut back before the foliage dies back.

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