Help, my flowers are blooming and I heard it’s going to snow!

Cold weather can damage some plants, but you can protect them.

Two April snow events and near-record cold might have you worried about how plants and animals will manage in this crazy spring weather. After one of the warmer winters on record and several days in the 70s already, many plants are currently weeks ahead of schedule. And it’s not just the flora, the fauna is also behaving more like late April or early May.

 

Some Plants Will Be Damaged

Any plant that’s been in the ground since at least last fall will survive, but flowers and early leaves can become blackened from the cold. Trees will need to push out a new set of leaves. If blooms like magnolia flowers are killed, you’ll need to wait until next year to see them again. Spring bulbs and other perennials will live, but the flowers might be damaged. Pansies should be OK if you put them in the garden already, but here, too, the flowers might get blasted.

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Exactly how cold it gets Tuesday and Wednesday will determine the type of damage certain plants sustain. The biggest concern would be for fruit trees, which are a cash crop. If the flower buds have opened enough, they can be killed. If that happens, the tree won’t produce any fruit this year.

 

Bugs, Bees and Hummingbirds

I was shocked to see at least two hummingbirds had returned to southeastern Massachusetts.  @Vaccapa sent me photos of the little birds on Friday.

Hummingbirds arrive in Falmouth, Ma 4-1-16 Credit @vaccapa
Hummingbirds arrive in Falmouth, Ma 4-1-16 Credit @vaccapa —Hummingbirds arrive in Falmouth, Ma 4-1-16 Credit @vaccapa

Several years ago, when temperatures fell below freezing in early May, my neighbor found a dead hummingbird. We can’t really know what will happen to these early arrivals, but they can become stunned by the cold and die, as can sea turtles.

I was swatting mosquitoes last evening, and it’s likely the cold will at least kill off this first generation of them. Don’t worry; they’ll be back as soon as the weather warms up again.

 

Vegetable Gardens and Newly Seeded Lawns

It’s too early to seed a lawn, but if you already put down seed it will likely germinate when the weather turns warm again. Any seedlings you bought and planted might be damaged or killed. While cool weather crops like lettuce, broccoli and Asian greens can survive a cold night, some of the plants sold at nurseries and big box stores are grown in a greenhouse and aren’t hearty enough to make through a 20 degree night.

April Crocus Credit Dave Epstein
April Crocus Credit Dave Epstein —April Crocus Credit Dave Epstein
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You could cover your plants with inverted pots or use something like a light sheet to protect them. Even in this cold weather, you should vent those coverings during the day or you may actually cook the plants.

 

Don’t Worry Too Much

Nature is very resilient, more so than some people believe. The world around us will keep on moving through spring, even if it’s going to feel like winter a bit longer.

You Can Follow Dave Epstein on Twitter @growingwisdom.

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