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April freeze is possible, what does this mean for your gardens?

Spring is a difficult season for gardeners. We alternate between elation and concern as we watch the weather forecasts. Warmer temperatures and longer days give us hope that winter is past, while late freezes and storms cause anxiety for the plants that have already begun to emerge from their winter dormancy. Spring-flowering trees and shrubs are particularly at risk when the temperatures plummet.

First, the good news. A sudden brief late freeze is not likely to kill or cause long-term damage to your shrubs and trees, though the early leaves and blossoms may suffer some real damage. Prolonged extreme weather can kill or severely damage flowering trees and shrubs, but the majority of spring freeze events will only cause a set-back. Most trees and shrubs will recover from this type of damage, unless they are a variety already prone to freeze damage.

The bad news, however, is that flowering buds are much more tender, and more prone to damage from cold temperatures and ice. If your flowering buds had begun to form and break dormancy, your blooms may be history for the year, particularly on plants such as hydrangeas, since some varieties form flowering buds on old wood. Once the buds for the year have formed, a hard freeze can literally nip the blossoms in the bud, and serious reduce or eliminate the flowers for the year. This is a major disappointment on ornamental flowering trees and shrubs, and even more of a let-down on fruiting trees, which will not set fruit without blossoms.

Throughout the growing season, maintain good structural growth of your plants. Prune according to recommendations for your variety of plant to keep them strong and maintain a good shape. Avoid unnecessary topping and late pruning, which can make them structurally unsound and predisposed to damage from ice and the weight of heavy snows.

If you're concerned about a possible weather change, and need help protecting your plants and shrubs, give us a call. We would love to assist you!

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