As of February 23, 2017 in Northern Kentucky we are at about 90 Growing Degree Days. Growing Degree Days are a measurement of the growth and development of plants and insects during the growing season.
So what does this means ? The unusual weather patterns that we have seen over the last several weeks have been warm enough that our trees and shrubs are beginning to think Spring has arrived. The dormant buds on our plants are starting to swell and bloom. The problem is that this early in the season we are quite likely to see freezing weather. If we do, and most likely when we do, this could be quite devastating. The damage could be as minimal as a loss of buds, or as serious as loss of the plant. One of our trees that is especially susceptible to loss during this scenario is the Japanese Maple. The Japanese Maple doesn’t do well with wild temperature swings in short periods of time. So what can be done to avoid damage? Well maybe nothing. It all depends of how the temperatures change, how cold it gets, how long it stays below freezing, and how much tender growth the plants have exposed. The answer may be nothing can be done, it also could be to cover tender vegetation from frost, or it may be to spray down the plant and allow ice to form thus preventing the buds and vegetation from experiencing temperatures below 32 degrees F. The best thing to do is to be aware of your landscape. What I mean by this is know which trees or shrubs are in bud and be aware of the weather forecast. If you’re aware of the conditions in your landscape then you are able to respond accordingly. This is where the right plant in the right place brings some comfort to your heart. So be aware of the conditions, do what you can to prevent damage, and deal with the results once the cold weather finally passes.