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Get ready for the freeze!

by Janet Carson | February 13, 2021 at 5:06 p.m.

The weather forecast just gets worse every day! Most of our plants have sailed through our first bout of freezing rain/sleet with flying colors. But the low so far has only been 24 in my yard. Not really an issue for most plants. I do have some frozen open blooms on some sasanqua camellias, but overall, everything looks fine. But the real damage is coming up. They have now moved our low to 5 degrees in central Arkansas and colder still in the northern tier.

Fellow gardeners from up north say these temperatures are nothing compared to what they have, but I daresay their plants are still in deep dormancy, and can handle this cold. We are going to see some damage. I have hope for a few things I covered, but keep in mind, covering only gives a certain % of protection based on temperatures. Think about what you wear when you go out in the cold. From layers of clothing to outer heavy coats, hats and gloves, a thin sheet over a plant is not offering much in the way of protection.

I have plants covered with large pots, covered with boxes, covered with a tarp,

so three layers may give me a little edge, but I don’t think I will come through unscathed. Annual plants can easily be replanted—even if you have heads forming on broccoli and cauliflower.

My camellias will lose all their open flowers and probably everything showing color,

but I still have tight flower buds that I have high hopes for. But 5 degrees is COLD for us in Arkansas. My son had open blooms on some of his blueberries--they will be gone,

but more should open later. I am prepared for no blooms this summer on my big leaf hydrangeas

and I am guessing my figs will be sprouting from much lower than they are now. Time will tell. Our saving grace is that there is plenty of moisture in the ground which helps buffer the plants.

There is no way that any gardener should even consider covering every plant in their garden. If there is something really prized, give it all you’ve got and say some prayers. Cut some bouquets of daffodils if they are wide open. I am enjoying my camellia bouquets indoors,

and probably getting more enjoyment out of them than when they are on the bushes, since I see them for a longer duration in the kitchen.

My olive and bay trees are having a nice vacation in the garage

with a few other potted things I could move, but the majority of my garden has to tough it out. Time will tell how much damage we truly get.

We have quite a bit of snow predicted over two separate storms. Snow is actually a great insulator of plants. The only issue with snow can be limb breakage if heavy amounts accumulate.

Gardening is not for sissies! Weather does take its toll. Southerners aren’t used to this type of cold, and neither are our plants, and certainly not after the warm winter we had been having, coupled with the duration of the cold temperatures. Keep your fingers crossed, and let’s hope for the best. Whatever happens, we will take it in stride and keep on gardening.

You know what I always say—a dead plant is an opportunity to buy a new plant—just wait until spring is really here to assess any damage, and start planting.

Do keep water running in your house. Clay found a new gadget that he has put on all our outside spigots. It is called a Freeze Miser.

It starts dripping when it gets below 28 to keep the pipes from freezing. It is dripping like crazy. My water feature is making some interesting ice sculptures,

and we have a huge load of fire wood ready for the week ahead.

I hope the forecast is wrong, but we are as ready as we are going to get. Stay warm and safe!


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