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effects of -23deg F in zone 6: preliminary report

Posted by fabaceae_native z6 NM (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 4, 11 at 12:17

Here is what I've noticed so far after those three consecutive subzero nights with the all-time record low of -23 where I live. I hope others will post their observations so we can at least learn from this event:

In the Orchard:
- Peach flower buds all killed (brown upon dissection and falling off), but only some minor twig damage apparent
- Apricot flower buds killed (I thought they were hardier than that)
- Pakistan mulberry killed nearly to ground
- Fig almost certainly dead (I'll post if it resprouts)
- Green gage plum, apples, and cherries appear fine, and should flower

In the Cactus/Succulent Bed (many were covered with snow):
- Desert agaves (A. deserti) killed
- Santa Rita prickly pear killed
- Some Engelmann's prickly pears killed
- Creosote Bush foliage and topmost growth killed
- Arizona barrel scarred but will probably pull through
- Rest so far show minor or no damage! including claret cup, Fendler's, strawpile, and Engelmann's hedgehogs, Parry's and Havard's agaves, Christmas and Klein's cholla, Whipple's yucca, Ocotillo, and others.

Surprises:
- Desert willows appear fine, with only minor twig damage
- Black mulberry (Morus nigra) apparently unscathed!
- Mexican elder with only minor twig damage (plant was dormant at the time)
- Silverberry (Elaeagnus pungens) possibly killed outright
- Juniper mistletoe dead and brittle in trees (will resprout out of branches I imagine?)
- Bee colonies apparently fine!

This might sound horrific, but all in all, it was not nearly as bad as I feared, especially considering my zone pushing with cacti/succulents. I will keep tabs on the situation and post again if any major changes.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: effects of -23deg F in zone 6: preliminary report

Nice report. Chilopsis linearis is much hardier than most references think. I know of someone in Pocatello, ID who was successful with it for a long time.


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RE: effects of -23deg F in zone 6: preliminary report

I have been growing Chilopsis linearis in Boulder, Colorado, for over 20 years. They have survived -24 F. They do not become very large, due to the short growing season, but they survive our coldest temps with no trouble. Just another cold climate plant which survives in hot, dry areas. (It probably does not occur this far north naturally because young plants can not survive the cold. Old, established plants do fine; same applies to Cupressus arizonica, which survives very cold weather if it is well established.)


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RE: effects of -23deg F in zone 6: preliminary report

Yeah, you're both right about desert willow. In the wild, it occurs to about Bernalillo, NM, which can get very cold now and then (not sure how cold it got this winter, but probably in the -15 to -20 range). There are a few locations around Santa Fe with some beautiful, large specimans, but I'm not sure at what size they were planted.


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RE: effects of -23deg F in zone 6: preliminary report

Good news from the southern end of the state.
Lots, and I mean lots, of palms are pushing up green fronds. Crape myrtles are starting to bud on the branches and rosemarys are pushing out new leaves high on the plant.
Still have lots of brown pines but we're hoping they'll push out new needles soon.
Things aren't looking as bleak as we had feared.


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RE: effects of -23deg F in zone 6: preliminary report

That's great news nmgirl!

I agree that things are not looking as bleak as we had feared.

Here is some follow-up to my original report:
-- AZ barrel did succomb to the cold it turns out
-- Desert agave that was killed was survived by some pups!
-- Believe it or not, my rosemary also survived!
-- Still waiting to verify plight of Mimosa (planted last summer), Fig, and a few others...


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