Return to the New England Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

why aren't my plants dead yet?

Posted by mayalena 6 - MetroWest Boston (My Page) on
Sat, Oct 29, 11 at 15:48

Hi all.
We've had a couple of hard freezes here in MetroWest, so why are my dahlias and mums still blooming and happy? Even my tomatoes are still going? I assume the coming snow will kill them all, but why didn't the freezes get them first?
Any good explanations out there?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: why aren't my plants dead yet?

It is snowing today, otherwise the frosts have not been significant and long enough to make plants dormant or kill them. I think I will dig up the dahlias asap when the snow clears. :-0

RE: why aren't my plants dead yet?

We must be in totally different areas of MetroWest since we hadn't had even the hint of a frost until we got the snow Thursday night. My plants got nipped a bit during Thursdays snow, but I'm expecting anything that survived to be killed off tonight.

RE: why aren't my plants dead yet?

It has been an incredibly long, warm fall. Plants that are usually dying back or completely over by now are still going strong. I pulled out blooming annuals the day after the first snow.

But we had an inch of snow the other night and now it is snowing to beat the band here north of Boston. This has never happened in my 34 years here--can't begin to guess what effect it will have on perennials, shrubs, trees.

RE: why aren't my plants dead yet?

I don't think you have had a couple of hard freezes yet. I just checked the temperatures at Bedford and Fitchburg, and yesterday was actually the first occurrence of a temperature below 32 degrees this fall. So, it has been very warm this October, without sharp frosts at night. At my location on the south coast, I have still not had any frosts. All of my tender summer annuals, like impatients and begonias, are still blooming profusely. And many of my trees and shrubs are still green, or are just starting to change. My Crape Myrtle usually puts on spectacular fall colors by now, but it is still dark leafy signs of a change.

RE: why aren't my plants dead yet?

  • Posted by mayalena 6 - MetroWest Boston (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 30, 11 at 9:16

So...clearly I don't know the difference between a frost and a freeze. My birdbath has been frozen over a couple of times -- and we had snow on the ground the day before yesterday. Isn't that cold enough to knock plants back? Apparently not....

RE: why aren't my plants dead yet?

In my experience die-back or die-off for winter is a very long process. There is no such thing as having a big frost and then cleaning up the yard for winter. I go out over weekend after weekend and take out whatever has died back. The first to go would be the more temperature sensitive annuals. Then slowly as it get colder various perennials and hardier annuals fade out. Some perennials take a long time to lose their top growth. I got a thin layer of snow Sat. night and figured it finished off most of the annuals, but was surprised to see how good they still looked on Sun. However, as I hurried out the door this morning, the very cold temperatures of last night appear to have done in the annuals that I could see.

Even for the annuals, I think it is a complex story of how cold and for how long, and even more so for the perennials.

RE: why aren't my plants dead yet?

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 31, 11 at 16:47

It also may be an issue of soil temperature compared to air temperature. My copper birdbath, which is a pedestal type with the water above the ground, will freeze over long before the birdbaths sitting on the ground. I assume this is because the soil temperature is still above freezing while the air is below freezing for a short time. The birdbaths on the ground would be warmed by the soil.

The soil should take longer to cool off and since the roots of the plants are embedded in the soil they would be resistant to a short freeze in the air temperature.


RE: why aren't my plants dead yet?

I bet when the snow clears many of the plants will be dead now.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the New England Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here