Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > January 2017 > IN THE GARDEN with DOUG - WARM WINTER WEATHER'S EFFECT ON OUR OUTDOOR PLANTS


It’s mid-January and these past 10 days we have experienced all four seasons.  Within five days we experienced 8 inches of snow one day, near zero temperatures the next, and then the sun comes out and in a couple of days we were nearly 70 degrees.  It is confusing to me and I don’t live outdoors like our plants.  They must be very confused.
                I have been in the green industry business a long time and we have had spells like this in past years.  So, what we are experiencing this January is nothing new. 
                This “yo-yoing” in temperatures has me some somewhat concerned for our plants.  To perform their best plants need to go into deep winter dormancy when their metabolism comes to a halt due prolonged cold temperatures.  Winter dormancy occurs when our cold temperatures stay for a long period of time.  When there is a mild winter, plants are fooled in producing new buds and push out their spring leaf flush prematurely.
                There are some do’s and don’ts that we need to be aware of when it comes to caring for our plants during mild spells in the dead of winter.
                First, we need to thank our lucky stars for the 8 inches of snow.  This snow covered up our plants just in the nick of time before our temperatures dropped to zero degrees.  Snow is our ally.  Snow acts like an insulator for our plants because beneath the snow the temperatures remain around 32 degrees.  So our plants were never exposed to this sub-freezing temperatures.  Another added benefit of this 8 inches of snow is that the snow melted slowing giving all our plants a slow, thorough soaking.  Remember, we never want our plants to go dry in the winter.
                Adding new mulch is a good idea to protect our plants during a mild winter.  There is little that can be done to reduce or stop the early plant growth and potential damage.  Protect plants’ roots from fluctuating temperatures with mulch.  Mulch should be applied a couple inches deep and away from the trunk.  Mulch will not war or cool plants roots, but instead, help maintain a steady soil temperature.
                Bark split is another common sign of damage from fluctuating winter temperatures.  As warm days give way to cold nights, tissues expand and contract, causing damage. 
                Bottom line – there is not much we can do for our plants.  But, like I said earlier in this blog we have been through mild winters before.  Just keep that in mind and don’t over react.  I enjoy these nice warm winter days as much as the next person.  However, I am a plant person and we need our plants not to be confused.  I have a spring blooming camellia and much too often it will start to bloom too early and the flowers will die too soon because of a cold snap after it started to bloom.  But, it is still alive and growing nicely regardless of what happens later this winter.
                                                                                HAPPY GARDENING !!
Posted: 1/19/2017 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
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