Danélle Cutting: What did the cold do to my plants?

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 13, 2017

We have had some interesting temperature fluctuations since the start of the New Year. Many areas received 5 to 8 inches of snow and below freezing temperatures.

When we have had such cold temperatures many wonder if their outdoor plants will survive. Below are some frequent questions we have received this month.

Question: Will my plants be OK after these cold temperatures?

Answer: There will definitely be some plants that will have some winter injury. We will not know about some of them for a few more weeks when the most damage will become more evident. Plants that are more susceptible to the cold will have the biggest issues. One plant that I receive the most calls about is figs. Many of our figs are not cold hardy enough to sustain 9 degree weather. Even though we can sometimes lose the above ground growth, many of the figs will send new growth during the spring, so very rarely does the temperature kill the plant entirely. This is why I remind people that even though something is new, unique and beautiful, be sure to always learn about the plant, its natural environment and make sure you know what their hardiness zone is, or you may end up with a dead plant after our cold temperatures.

Question: Is there still room for the beekeeping course?

Answer: I cannot believe how many phone calls we have received concerning the beekeeping course: it was one of the first calls we received after the big snow. There are some seats available but I caution anyone who is planning on showing up the day of to pay now because you may not have a book or a seat if you wait too long. When I took the course in 2015 we had over 85 participants. Beekeeping is a highly sought-after skill and the Rowan County Beekeepers Association only has a class every other year, so be sure to register ASAP. Call Randy Cox at 704-798-4501 to register.

Question: Is there anything I can be doing to get ready for the gardening season?

Answer: Of course. There is always something to do for the garden, even in the winter time. You can start gearing up for the season by making sure your tools are properly cleaned so that they will not transfer diseases. This means cleaning shovels, hoes and spades to remove all of the soil and debris. It is also a good thing to clean your pruning shears and loppers to be ready for pruning season which is coming up shortly. If you have any plant material still in your old garden beds go ahead and remove it so that you will reduce your chances of overwintering pests and diseases. If you have already completed those tasks, take a look at some of the beautiful seed and plant catalogs and start marking the plants you want to try for this year. Gardening season will be here before we know it.

Weather in North Carolina is always changing and as gardeners we have to be on our toes.

If you have any questions about gardening, pruning or insect identification, call or email your local Cooperative Extension agent, Danélle Cutting, at 704-216-8970 or danelle_cutting@ncsu.edu.