54February 17, 2016

After Sunday morning, I would be willing to bet that you were sick and tired of hearing people ask, “ Cold enough for you? “ Tuesday comes and it is 50 degrees. Ya” gotta love New England weather.

Speaking of the cold, did you have any pipes freeze up? Hopefully not. Did the cold damage any of your trees and shrubs? That becomes a much tougher question to answer. If you turn on the faucet and no water comes out, you can probably figure you have a frozen pipe. You can go outside and look at your shrubs and you probably can’t tell if any of your plants were damaged by the cold. The problem is that many of the plants that we have in our yard can be damaged by –10 degree weather. If you add in the wind chill you might have plants exposed to what amounted to –20 to –30-degree temperature.

The question is, will the cold damage the plants to such an extent that there will be enough damage to kill the plant. In the extreme cold temperature that we had, flower buds may have been killed by the cold but adding in the wind probably will have killed some plants. Come the spring, you may find that your rhododendrons may not flower as well as they normally would. Dogwood flowers may be sparse or non-existent. Some of the plants my have died. The extent of the damage will depend on how cold tolerant the shrub or tree is. If you buy a shrub, the tag will tell you that the plant is hardy to Zone 6. The tag may say hardy to Zone 5, 4 or 3. The lower the number, the hardier the plant is going to be. We are in Zone 6B. From 1976 to 2005 the average annual low temperature in our zone was 0 to –5 as reported by the USDA. The report doesn’t say if these average low temperatures led to plant damage. My gut feeling is that this winter, adding in the wind chill effects, will lead to some damage on the plants in our yards. The mitigating factor just might be how well we prepared our plants for the winter. Wrapping the shrubs in the fall or spraying the plants with an anti-desiccant spray would have greatly diminished the effect of the dry winter wind. At this point all we can do is wait until spring and see what happened to our plants.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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