When the air temperature dips below 25° F for at least four hours, it could wreak havoc on your emerging spring garden. The weather in Colorado is crazy, to say the least, and gardeners who live on the Front Range learn that long stretches of warm days can be followed by a dramatic dip in temperature.
If your garden is waking up and tender shoots are beginning to grow, you need to take steps to prevent damage to your plants. If you are able to bring your annuals into the garage or the house for the night we would highly recommend you do so.
First, water your plants with about 1 inch of water during the day when a freeze is expected that night. Make sure to water directly onto the soil, careful not to get water onto the plant’s leaves or flowers. Moisture in the soil helps to conserve soil temperature, which enables the plant to put more energy into keeping the top of the plant warm. For fruit trees that have either bud or bloom showing, water the surrounding soil to a depth of one foot. For extra warmth, cover bare soil underneath your fruit tree with plastic. Soil covered in plastic is able to store and radiate more warmth.
Trap heat and protect the tops of your plants by carefully covering them. Inverted buckets, trash cans or boxes all work well to insulate the tender leaves. Another way to trap heat is to use frost blanket, or an old blanket you have lying around your house. Simply place stakes around your plant in a manner that will keep the covering from touching the plant. Cover fruit trees with large blankets or frost blanket; attempt to cover all the way to the ground so that the soil’s radiant heat isn’t lost. Be sure to remove the covering as soon as temperatures begin to rise above freezing.
Large dips in temperature can be rough on even some of the hardiest plants dotting our Northern Colorado landscape. Evergreens are known to be tough to kill, but even they can be damaged when temperatures dip below 25° F. We recommend using Wilt Pruf, a natural product derived from the resin of the pine tree. Wilt-Pruf acts as a protective coating, holding in moisture on plant foliage and stems, substantially reducing water loss and protecting your evergreen from the bitterly cold air.
If we receive heavy, wet snow, make sure that you shake tree branches so that snow isn’t allowed to accumulate. Spring snow is often so water logged that it will break branches and damage trees if it is not shaken off.
Prune any frost-damaged plants once there is no longer a risk of a late spring frost. Pruning stimulates new growth that is susceptible to cold and frost damage.