Extension Update

With the recent cold snap many of you may be wondering, what’s going to happen to my garden?

For the most part nothing should be too adversely affected.  According to the 2012 USDA plant hardiness zone map this part of the state falls into zones 5b and 6a, depending on where you live.  This means the average annual extreme low temperature is -15 to -10°F in 5b and -10 to -5°F in 6a.  Plants that are native to this are should be fine.  They have evolved over time and are adapted to withstand cold temperatures like the ones we have recently experienced.

The same can’t be said for plants that are on the border of their hardiness zones.   During more mild winters they can easily survive.  However, given the recent extreme temperatures there is an increased chance they may have been damaged or killed.  Plants that were planted in pots also have a greater risk of being damaged or killed if they were left out and unprotected.  Because they are elevated, the soil will get colder than the ground and there is a greater chance the plant roots will be damaged.

Since there was snow during the extreme low temperatures the ground was insulated from this frigid air.  This is a good and bad thing.  Your flower bulbs will be fine but so will pests that over winter in the ground such as Japanese beetles.  In fact it’s unlikely that the recent cold will have a large impact on insect populations.  Insects generally overwinter in protected areas, not out in the open where they would have been exposed to the full force of the cold air.  In addition to the snow cover it didn’t get cold enough long enough for temperatures to get cold enough to affect these protected areas such as under tree bark.

Only time will tell how much of an affect the cold weather has had on plants and pests.  We’ll have to wait until spring to see how things faired.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map can be found at:  planthardiness.ars.usda.gov

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