Protecting Japanese Maples from Cold snap?

bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)April 7, 2009

Once again the artic cold snap revisits the bluegrass state and my 5 Japanese Maples (and lilac, fruit trees, etc) are once again in danger since they've started leafing-out for the year. I covered them as best I could with cloth (sheets, comforters, foam) and then covered that with plastic bags since it is raining\sleeting\snowing outside. Will this protection be adequate? It seemed to do the trick in 2008 when we got hit with one of these around April 14th.

Hoping for the best

Click here to see what my trees look like when the leaves are out

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Clear plastic over tender new growth during daylight hours can be worse than any cold damage! Make sure this is removed or that there is an opaque layer of something else between the plastic and the tree.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 10:44AM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

gardengal48, I knew about plastic on leaves and the cooking effect. That is why I first wrapped sheets , foam, comforters (cloth), etc around them first. The plastic was to keep the cloth materials dry since we had freezing rain\sleet\snow coming down too last night\this morning. We're only getting up into the high 30's today, so I left everything covered and left for work (45 minutes away). I'm more worried about making it through tonight. The weather guy blogs he expects lower temps than last night (we hung around 31-32 degrees last night\this morning). I hate cold snaps.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 11:21AM
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I'd not describe overnight temps in the low 30's as a 'cold snap'....more like a light frost :-) FWIW, we are still having night times frosts periodically as well - last week it was in the mid 20's overnight and snowed in some areas. Yesterday and today, the daytime temps are in the low 70's but nights in the low 40's/upper 30's then dropping down again to colder than seasonal temperatures. I've not ever found the need to cover any of my maples under these conditions, even all that are grown in containers. I think you are erring on the side of caution - perhaps unnecessarily - but that's fine. It never hurts to be safe!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 12:26PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

Leave it up to Kentucky meteorologists to exaggerate calling last night and tonight a 'cold snap'. We had been in the 70s with lows in the 40s and suddenly the 'becoming annual' artic air rushes down in early spring and tries to devastate. The radio news this morning said farmer's should be very concerned. I think you are right.. it's a little 'cry wolf' with the exaggeration we get about our weather, but it's still disconcerting. The reason I went through the extremes in protection is that 2 years ago my Japanese maples were in the same condition (full leafed-out) and we got hit with a similar cold. Unfortunately I lost that Bloodgood. Out of the 4 varieties of Japanese maples the Sango Kaku worry me the most because they are fully leafed-out already. I have an extra warm micro-climate in my back yard due to the topography and light-colored house reflecting sun back south. Here's what my Sango Kaku's looked like 2 days ago: From 1

He's snug as a bug now. We just need to get through tonight. We're exactly 7 days earlier than last year's 'cold snap'.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:21PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Row cover (such as Reemay) might have been adequate and definitely would have been less involved.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:23PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

I decided to go the 'free' route. ;)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 3:07PM
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I've tried hanging some burlap fabric, whether it will help I don't know.

Weather has been odd here in Ohio the last couple of days. Cool but not freezing, but cold wind and the occasional tiny snow flurries. Highs 20 degrees below normal, but it is still the first week of April, it is not unusual at all to have below 32F nights. Seems like everything is coming out early again this year, like two years ago.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 9:02PM
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picea(6A Cinci- Oh)

HI Noki,

My plants are coming out at about the normal time. It seem like every year I have to worry about my Japanese maples. They push early while most of the native trees push several weeks later.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 10:18PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

Yeah, the Japanese maples do push early. I wish they were not so impatient.

The weather guy just said keep 'em covered til 10am. Problem is that I will be 45 minutes away and at work when 10am tomorrow rolls by. Should I remove the plastic and leave the cloth before going to work in the morning?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 10:35PM
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