What will this freeze do to our perennials?

gottagarden(z5 western NY)January 7, 2014

We're getting the polar blast here, woke up to -8 and windy. High today was 0. Oh, and a blizzard too! We're getting the lake effect storm from lake erie and genesee county has a travel ban and state of emergency.

I wonder if this brutal cold will kill off some of marginal plants? I'm zone 5b, but this might get some of the 5B bulbs. Hardy begonia, aruncus peppermint stick, certain primrose . . . fingers crossed! I transplanted 15 paperbark maple in the late fall and they aren't established at all :-(

We have about 6 inches + snow on the ground and I'm hoping that will insulate them.

How about you? Get hit by the cold or storms?

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Patty W. zone 5a Illinois

Was ready to post the same type message. Thinking about the new usda plant hardiness map. Maybe the old one is just fine. We didn't have any snow for the first 2 cold blasts so when it snowed again I pilled it high on the plants that were new, transplanted or zone pushers. It certainly will be interesting to see what survives this winter. I've always wondered what happens to southern perennials when cold weather reaches so far south. Maybe when it's a short lived cold snap the plants aren't bothered much. Good luck to you and your plants.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 5:56PM
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I have to admit, I've been wondering about that, too. We've had -16 temps, but we've also got about 18 inches of snow for insulation...

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 7:43PM
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Best of luck to all of you Z5 gardeners. I'm certainly no expert but it wouldn't hurt to take into account that the plants are dormant by now. It may very well be they'll come through the winter fine, especially those that have some snow for insulation.

The only plants I've lost the past 5+ years have been those that were short-lived perennials to begin with. The weather where I am has been extreme since I moved here late in 2005, either incredibly dry [4 months with NO rain AT ALL] or incredibly rainy or catastrophic in terms of snow [the horrific 2011 snowstorm on Halloween], wind, falling tree limbs and/or cold. Aside from Japanese iris, the only lost plants I've noted have been short-lived perennials.

Each growing season I keep garden notes on my computer on how things do so I can track what does well vs. what doesn't come back. Since the garden beds I designed after moving here are now pretty full with mostly winter sown, seed-grown hardy perennials, I figure the notes keep me from spending $$$ on nursery-grown plants that are short-lived or else unreliable in my zone.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 12:36AM
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Yes, I'm wondering too. Yesterday I went out to look for a cat and my garden looked...well.. frozen. There is a layer of snow over the leaf mulch so that is comforting, but the brutal cold winds? My boxwood is somewhat nipped ontop but that is normal, rest of the foliage looks ok so far.

I think the bulbs will be fine. Worried about my caryopteris tho. It has lasted three years which is longer than any other I've planted. My concern is that this Fall I decided to cut down the tall perennial stalks that grow around it and I felt shielded it some in winter. In fact I'll find out if cutting back my dead stalks everywhere else in the Fall instead of the Spring was a good idea at least for MY garden. I know others cut back in Fall.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 11:47AM
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borderline zone perennials could suffer. The bigger issue is the temperature swings from warm to cold. If there was a melt before the freeze, even hardy plants can die. It's important to keep plants insulated with a mulch cover or a thick pile of snow protect against temperature changes.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 11:19AM
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freezengirl(3aMN and 5AK)

Schoolhouse, I do that too! My gardens are in an open windswept area that can have the winter winds cause some damage. I have found that leaving most of the cleanup until spring traps the snow and tends to create drifts over the garden. I am pretty sure that is part of why I haven't had to many losses of marginally hardy perennials in this part of the country. If we all have adequate snow cover/mulch I would think their wouldn't be to much damage...but trees and shrubs might take a beating and suffer a lot of winter kill.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 9:15PM
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koszta_kid(Iowazone 5)

Dh took snow blower and put even more snow on my plants. Had mulched a lot this fall. We had - 50- windchills. (highs) Monday was -15. But today freezing fog and rain. Very slick.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 2:10PM
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