Greenhouse freeze

Noni MorrisonNovember 27, 2010

Well, guess there was a fair amount of suffering going on among the amies, during the storm we had a few days ago, when the power failed. Today I see that many bulbs are going to loose the outer layer of skin off the exposed parts of their bulbs. Once my kids leave tomorrow I will sit down and carefully tend the bulbs, removing frozen layers and cleaning them up. The begonias lost a lot of leaves but have a few that look perky. Has anyone else had any experience with frozen bulbs and what they need to recover? DO you think they will abort their blossoms because of this? Oddly enough, the leaves look fine. IT is just on the bulbs that the freezing shows, where they were exposed above the soil.

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quail(USDA 9)

How can you tell that they froze (besides knowing that the temperature got below freezing)? Did the outer layer get mushy, or is there a change in color or some other visual indicator? Our temps got down into the low 30s the last couple of nights or so. I moved my hippies that are wintering outdoors up onto our deck in a corner by the building in hopes of protecting them. They seem to be all right, but want to check in case there's a visual indicator that I need to have someone check for me. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 3:01AM
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ryan820(z5b Denver, Colorado, USA)

Hi Noni--

so sorry to read of your deep freeze-- what an unusual occurrence for your area, no?

Ok-- I may get flogged for this, but I have to tell you of the experience I have with cold temps and my hippies.

Living in Colorado we often see wonderful, beautiful warm days even in the dead of winter but when our heater turns off (the sun sets!), we get cold cold cold. I have never left my hippies outside with the temps at or below 32F but darn close to it and to no ill effect. In fact, the act of moving them inside finally seems to jump start their budding.

As for their recovery....hehe.... if you do a search for my -20F bulb you'll get quite a story. The shortened version is this:

I was leaving the USAF and my wife and I moved from Minot North Dakota to Colorado. During our trek south, we encountered a blizzard. Just barely making it to a small town in Wyoming where we got the last room at a motel. The problem, outside of the storm, was that I had all my plants in my SUV. Every single one of them stayed in the car because the storm was so ferocious, we could hardly make it to the room even with our suitcases. So the plants spent the night in temps as low as -20F. I lost every plant except a NOID hippie and a pineapple plant. I would have never believed it myself had I not seen it, but to this day this plant grows among my others. It suffered horribly, though-- it rotted down to a small bulb and its taken me ever since to get it back to a respectable size.

It does not sound like this is your case. Sounds to me like the outer layers on your bulbs were already slated for shedding in the natural cycle of things. As for the buds aborting etc-- I doubt they will. Bud development seems to go really well when they get cold. My Royal Velvet has spent the Fall in a 35-40 degree garage and it has the biggest bud I've ever seen on a hippie forming now in the solarium.

Only time will really tell but with that said, these are tough plants and I wish you all the luck.

Denver Ryan

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 3:20AM
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betonklotz(7b Baltic Sea coast)

Last winter a friend of mine brought me this bulb, he transported it in the back of a van for a few hours while the temperatures dropped below -15ðC.
A lot of plant tissue was lost, but now it has a nice buch of leaves again.

I had to remove a scrape that was nearly out because the layers on this side up to the scrape where muddy. All the layers I cut into died till now, but now the bulb is much bigger and healthier again.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 7:22AM
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So sorry to hear about the greenhouse and the other winter horror stories. Hope everything recovers quickly.
Ryan-that's horrible! At least ya'll and a couple of things survived.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 9:44AM
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Lizalily I'm so sad to hear that your gorgeous greenhouse almost turned into a disaster... Mother Nature can sure be cruel..with your TLC, I'm sure they will survive and bloom beautifully for you next time around.

Ryan, what a sad story..hopefully, you were able to buy new ones to replace what you lost, Now-a-days some of them wouldn't be so easy to replace, and you can never replace beloved plants that have been given to you by someone special no matter how common they are...


    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 12:52PM
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Noni Morrison

Thank you all for the horror stories and visuals! It makes me feel better then I have since the events happened, like aload has been lifted off my sad shoulders.

The first answer, is that yes, the outer layer or two turned mushy and translucent, but unlike Betonklotz the leaves did not droop. So I feel happy that they can survive this and thrive. I will watch closely for further rot issues but have my "captan" handy to clean the damaged areas.

We are above freezing now, just damp and gray and dark early. I shook the soil off the frozen dahlia tubers I had dug and as far as I can tell they are still firm. Still not sure on the $400 plus worth of Palatine Roses my mate left outside the coldest night because they were addressed to me, not him...but that is another story we won't go into. Just want to say that you guys are the greatest! And time will tell with my plumeria and begonias and the dear little flame tree from Cindee. Most of my dahlia cuttings look like they are fine.

What ever will winter throw at us this year when it finally arrives?! Anyhow, I have 10 gallons of propane on hand, and the green house handle now has weep holes drilled in the lock. And if husband ever caulks the north side of the greenhouse that he never got around to I might have even better luck. Its been a hard Thanksgiving, but my kids were great....

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 6:40PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Dear Noni, least the bulbs had the protection that the greenhouse could offer. Imagine what could have happened to them without the shelter and protection from wind (except that that seeped in from north side). Seems like a little propane-powered generator should be your next "to you, from you" if you haven't already.

Argh....I know your frustration. At my house when "stupid" stuff happens, I can only blame myself.

Wish you were here to enjoy the huge pot of turkey soup. That would warm you up from the inside out.

Hugs and Gordon "slurps"!
Kristi, Stormy (the good kind), and Laka (the South Sea's goddess who named all the flowers...especially the Hippeastrum [I just made the last part up...about Hippis])!
HUGSS! (and warm blankies!)

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 9:16PM
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hardytropicalguy(z6 SWMI)

I would not worry too much about the Hippeastrum. I normally leave mine outside here in SW Michigan until we are getting into the mid to upper 20's. I have brought them in many years with the entire container frozen solid bulbs and all. The only catch though is how warm was your greenhouse heated to prior to the freeze? The bulbs need to aclimate in order to prepare for dormancy before a freeze so it could present a problem if it was heated to growing temperatures.

Remember a Hippeastrum is hardy to USDA zone 8 so temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit should not kill your bulbs.

I think the promising thing in your post is you have stated the leaves are fine. If the bulbs seem like they were effected keep them on the dry side so that they do not go into rot and I have a feeling everything will come back and bloom just fine.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 9:24AM
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cindeea(FtMyers 10)

(((((Lizalily))) Sweet Pea, ya gotta move to Florida, I keep telling ya! Hang in there babe and try to stay warm. I am so sorry for your Ami's shock and especially sad about your roses.

Hey HardyTrop: Where in SW MI? I grew up in K'Zoo many, many, many years ago!! Never thought I'd see a Michigander on the Ami forum!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 7:24PM
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Noni Morrison


Thanks for the suggestion to keep things dry. I think you are right and I had not through of that, though I do try to let things surface dry. It won't be quite so hard now that my water supply (A hose) is disconnected for the winter and we have to haul the water from the house. I'll keep the water for the thirsty guys, like my winter veggies.

Things are looking up and perking up now that temps are back in the normal range ourside (39 degrees outside, 58 degrees inside the greenhouse at this time).

I found out that it was not just local power outages we had to deal with but the main cable to our island was down! We just got phone service back on Sunday here on our side street. and the snow is long gone now. Today I planted out all my new cutting roses in the box that arrived during the freeze. Don't tell my husband but I think they might survive! Hard to feature packaging that would protect a box of them to 14 degrees F but it was a big box with about 24 roses, and they were well packed and double bagged, as well as being dormant. ONly time will tell, but they are getting planted nice and deep! And husband is very very sorry for being such a pill.... I had the Palatine Freelander roses for my business, but I also bought a lot of red and white roses to do for a special border that is red, white, silver and black plants, and another bed of white roses. Then there were the two brownish tone roses to go in with my Hot Cocoa Rose, and the pink pompon rose to go in the planter on the front deck, and ......Brothers Grimm Fairytale rose to light up the orange bed.

So you can see, when I am not drooling over amaryllis, I drool over roses or lilies or dahlias or....It really helps with all the gray days to be planning, planting, primping or harvesting!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 11:44PM
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