One more blueberry question - freezing temps

jennieboyer(8)February 16, 2013

Hi All,

I put my blueberries in the ground on Thursday and mulched heavily with pine needles. We are expecting a hard freeze tonight (about 29 degrees). I'm wondering if I should or need to cover the plants. I understand I may well lose some blooms, but in a new plant just getting established, it's not a bad thing to have some blooms gone, right? I am pretty sure I read somewhere to remove blooms anyway to allow for energy to go to getting established.

On the other hand, as they are newly planted, should I just go ahead and cover them for protection? Based on my work schedule, I won't be able to cover them until almost 8 pm tonight.

Tonight is predicted to be 29, tomorrow night 31, and then we are up in the 50s as lows all next week.

Thanks!

Jennie

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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

In theory 29 won't harm them......27 is the temp at which damage is done but 29 is awful close. I have the same forecast here, 29. I will be running overhead sprinklers on my main bed starting when the temp hits 35. I have a smaller bed nearer the lake I live on and that bed will be on it's own.

Do the plants have leaves yet? if not you should be ok and like you said you don't care if the flowers get burned.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 8:33AM
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jennieboyer(8)

Hi Bamboo_rabbit - thanks for the quick reply. They have leaves and buds already. I seriously doubt we will be down to 27 - in the time that I've lived here, I've seen a hard freeze maybe 4 nights. The predicted low is 29, but the hourly forecast only drops to 30, and only for two hours. If it's not likely to kill the plants, I'm willing to risk a little damage to the buds/flowers. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 8:57AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Jennie,

2 minutes at 27 will damage them. If they have leaves I would suggest you cover them. If the cold or a frost burns the leaves the plants will have to make new leaves and that is energy that would be better spent on making roots and growing. Just a 5 gallon bucket over them would work as they are small right?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 9:17AM
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jennieboyer(8)

They are fairly small - a bucket may bend down some shoots just a bit, but not considerably. And I have TONS of buckets. Would larger plastic trash cans work too? Does the covering need to be close to the plant? I will cover them to be safe. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 9:30AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

If the cover is around the bush but does not touch it that is best. Trash can sounds perfect. You are just trapping a bubble of air around the bush that the ground heat can warm. Those shoots that touch the cover are more likely to be damaged.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 9:45AM
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ericwi

If your blueberry shrubs are northern highbush variety they should be fine. It is best to knock the flowers off of transplant shrubs when they are first put in, to help the plant get established in it's new home. If the blueberry shrubs were kept in a greenhouse, they will have green leaves emerging. If the temps drop and stay below the 60's, you might notice the blueberry leaves turning red. That is normal, a response to cold. The leaves will green up in May or June.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 9:52AM
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