The first severe freeze for central Arkansas is scheduled for overnight on Monday, November 11, 2019 with more opportunities on the 12th and 13th. This is different than the frosts and mild freezes we have already experienced. The Farmer’s Almanac gives this distinction:
A light freeze (between 32 and 29 degrees F) can kill tender plants. A moderate freeze (between 28 and 25 degrees F), sometimes called a hard freeze, can cause wide destruction to tender plants. A severe freeze (24 degrees F and below), sometimes called a killing freeze, can cause heavy damage to plants.
What does this severe freeze mean for your landscape? Keep reading!
- Plants that are winter hardy in our zone should be fine; they will show normal winter damage, especially on any tender new growth. This is normal.
- Deciduous plant materials will show damage and leaf loss, which is also very normal. Enjoy the fall color this weekend; next week, things might look a bit different out there. If you haven’t already started your fall leaf clean up; it will most likely need to be added to your calendar after this cold period.
- Evergreens such as cryptomerias and some junipers will start to show their winter bronze color.
- If you haven’t already, bring in any houseplants and tropicals that remain outside, even if they are under covered areas. This includes crotons you may have used in your fall decor; they will do nicely indoors in bright, indirect light.
- There are a few annuals still hanging on; this will end with the severe freeze. There is still time to plant cool season color such as pansies and bulbs such as tulips!
- Cabbage, kale, mustard, pansies, violas, panolas and other winter color will be fine, no need to do anything for them, which is the beauty of these plants. Another beautiful thing about them; they will last until it gets hot next spring! And yes, as of today, we still have some pansies, violas and panolas available for purchase.
- If you have plants that need a little extra protection, we do carry frost blankets, call us for availability. Frost blankets (ours are called N-Sulate) can raise the temperatures under the blankets by 10 degrees or so. Tuck frost blankets completely around plants to best protect them from the cold air.
- Rain and snow weighs down frost blankets, which in turn can cause limb breakage on plants. Ideally, the blankets need to be put into place after the rain or snow has ended but before damaging temperatures arrive. You may also try using stakes to elevate the blankets and keep the weight off the plants.
- If possible, bring your mums inside. You can try to protect the blooms with a white cloth such as a sheet or frost blanket if leaving them outside. Remove covering the next morning after the freeze warning has past. If you are trying to make your mums last until Thanksgiving, you might have to take this steps a few times between now and then. Remove damaged blooms to keep mums looking fresh. Eventually, they will just go dormant and can either be discarded or planted as a tender perennial.
- For fall blooming shrubs such as Encore azaleas and KnockOut roses, expect bloom damage. Frost blankets will protect the blooms during a frost but with air temperatures in the 20’s for hours, the blooms might not survive even with the blankets. Camellia sasanqua buds that have begun to open or are in full bloom will do best with protection from frost blankets. No need to worry about blooms that haven’t opened yet.
- Water at least 48 hours before the projected lows so the plants have time to absorb and move water throughout the plant. Because we have just had a very good rain event, most landscape plants shouldn’t need additional watering before Monday night’s temps dip down. But in the future, if we have not gotten a deep rain within a few days of such hard freezes, make sure the plants are watered.
- Check planters and annual beds, and water containers located in covered areas that did not get this recent rain.
- Mulch protects plant roots; if you haven’t mulched yet, remove any leaves from your landscape beds and add mulch. Or, leave a think blanket of leaves for protection and plan to clean out and mulch after leaf clean up is finished for the season. For more details, visit this blog post.
- Disconnect water hoses and protect water spigots. Hardware stores offer a variety of freeze protection option for spigots.
- Remove your RPZ meter or protect with heat tape. For more details on this, visit our recent video blog post on winter watering.
- Summer was long, fall was short and it feels like winter is only a few days away.
Have questions? Give us a call!