Here we go again! We were all hoping for a mild, safe winter for our cold recovering plants, and we are once again in the deep freeze. This time the snow may help the lower growing plants,
but it will be anyone's guess how well our shrubs do. One saving grace is that we did have plenty of moisture heading into this weather event, which we did not have last year. And, it is a light, powdery snow, so no limb breakage should occur. However, two things concern me. One, is that although we have had some cold temperatures, overall it was pretty mild with warm, sunny days and cold nights. I saw clematis
blooming in two friends yards
just last week. Roses were still blooming in many gardens,
and it was only a couple of weeks ago that we had flowers on Encore azaleas.
This tells me that the plants were still actively growing and not totally dormant. Dormant plants are typically more winter hardy than actively growing plants. That is my theory of why our Sasanqua camellias were more damaged last winter than our japonica type. The sasanquas were not dormant yet. I also saw tips of green growth on many big-leaf hydrangeas last week!
My other concern is how cold it actually is, and how long it is going to stay that way. I am at 11 degrees this morning, and we aren't supposed to be above freezing until Wednesday. Regardless of how much concern I have, there isn't a whole lot we can or should do. Small plants were easily covered, and potted plants could be moved into a more protected spot, but frost blankets or sheets on larger plants only give a few degrees of protection, and we are way beyond that. Time will tell. If you inspect your plants once it warms up and you suspect damage, ignore it. Do not prune it off. Any damaged leaves will serve as a buffer for any future winter events. Keep in mind it is mid-January and we have at least 1 1/2 to 2 months to go. Keep your fingers crossed that we skate through with no damage, but that may be wishful thinking. But just remember, many of our plants looked dead last year and 80% came back, so most of our plants are tougher than we think.
So for now, stay inside by the fire and stay warm. If you do go outside, don't touch your frozen plants, because they are brittle when frozen and you could cause more damage.