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Old 04-29-2012, 06:03 PM
 
Location: Charlton, MA
1,384 posts, read 4,390,529 times
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So I haven't planted anything yet and I'm kind of glad I haven't. I'm in Massachusetts and the past 3 nights (including tonight) we've had freeze/frost warnings.

My question tho is I am going to want to buy some plants in the next week or so. I noticed at a local nursery and at the local Walmart all the plants were left outside unprotected. Now the nursery I am not 100% sure but when I went by at 9pm I didn't see any protection on the plants or heaters or anything going. Not saying they couldn't have done something later in the night. It appears the owner lives onsite.

So how do you know if the plants are okay? Is it totally obvious by looking at the plants if they fared fine?
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Old 04-29-2012, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
69,490 posts, read 79,724,430 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyCrash View Post
So I haven't planted anything yet and I'm kind of glad I haven't. I'm in Massachusetts and the past 3 nights (including tonight) we've had freeze/frost warnings.

My question tho is I am going to want to buy some plants in the next week or so. I noticed at a local nursery and at the local Walmart all the plants were left outside unprotected. Now the nursery I am not 100% sure but when I went by at 9pm I didn't see any protection on the plants or heaters or anything going. Not saying they couldn't have done something later in the night. It appears the owner lives onsite.

So how do you know if the plants are okay? Is it totally obvious by looking at the plants if they fared fine?
Boy you guys are having a strange spring, that is for certain. To answer your question, normally when plants are damaged by frost you will know it immediately. It they still look healthy you should be ok. Now, if you do get frost again tonight, 3 nights is a lot for those poor plants, BTW are we talking a warning or frost and are we talking a little or a heavy frost?
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Old 04-29-2012, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Charlton, MA
1,384 posts, read 4,390,529 times
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According to weather.com it's a freeze warning between 2am to 9am tonight. I'm assuming the past 2 nights were similiar. For instance when I drove by the nursery last night around 9pm the car thermometer was reading 50 degrees. I wouldn't consider that a hard freeze, but I'm new to all this gardening stuff.

Just doubled checked and it shows temps below freezing for last night & tonight only. So only 2 nights of below freezing temps. Last night was a low of 32 and tonight's low is forecasted to be 28.
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:01 PM
 
Location: southwestern PA
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We had 6" of heavy wet snow just this past Monday... ruined all kinds of plants.
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyCrash View Post
According to weather.com it's a freeze warning between 2am to 9am tonight. I'm assuming the past 2 nights were similiar. For instance when I drove by the nursery last night around 9pm the car thermometer was reading 50 degrees. I wouldn't consider that a hard freeze, but I'm new to all this gardening stuff.

Just doubled checked and it shows temps below freezing for last night & tonight only. So only 2 nights of below freezing temps. Last night was a low of 32 and tonight's low is forecasted to be 28.
If you have plants out in the open (no trees or overhangs over them) they can get damaged by the cold temperatures. Frost is less likely to be damaging, and is often predicted by meteorologists when the temps drop below 40 (35-40 degrees F). The air has to be still and at or below 32 before they call for a true freeze. Often the plants at the box store and local nurseries are sitting in areas with an heat island effect (paving, concrete, buildings) that allow all but the must sensitive plants to be alright. Often those plants are located with more covering and most often are not in danger. If the temps were to go lower (at or below 28 degrees F) for a longer period then even the store areas would be too cold, this is when they call for a Hard Freeze.

Just so you know the temps in the evening would not be have any bearing. It may have been 50 early in the evening but the real damaging cold tends to be just before dawn.

If you suspect cold damage you will find tell tale signs of damaged leaves (dried or browning edges, sometimes droopy leaves, like they have become watery inside without the usual stiffeners)- the next day. I doubt that anyone had the really tender annuals out yet since in your area the last average frost is a little way off. Cold hardy plants like pansies and many of the perennials the stores are getting in can take an hour or two or more of colder temps without damage.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:05 AM
 
5,065 posts, read 13,307,017 times
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Freeze warnings or advisories are really not unusual in New England for late April, and the above poster is correct that the coldest temps tend to occur early in the morning. Where I live in Ct., many nurseries and garden centers post signs saying that May 15th is the earliest day to consider planting annuals. Any earlier and you do run the risk of losing tender plants. Some years you might get lucky if you plant too soon, others you could lose, it's a gamble. I know over the years I've been too impulsive and planted too soon, only to later regret it. I've had pansies out for weeks now, they are more cold tolerant, but I bring in my hanging basket of geraniums because they are not hardy. What you are seeing outdoors at nurseries might be the hardier annuals such as pansies, as well as many perennials.
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Old 04-30-2012, 12:10 PM
 
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Brrrrr....
Planting some asian veggeies (yu chai & malabar spinach) & daikon today hopefully the worst is over.
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Old 04-30-2012, 08:23 PM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
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Even though the nurseries get their bedding flowers as early as March, it is often a good idea and be patient and not purchase annuals until Mother's Day or after.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:14 PM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
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Kelly, for most of Massachusetts and all of New Hampshire, it's highly recommended that you don't plant ANY annuals except for pansies until Memorial Day weekend. You can transplant some of the more hardy perennials (bulbs/rhizomes like day lilies/iris) but leave the more tender early bloomers (bleeding heart, peonies, etc) alone until late in May. The soil temperature hasn't warmed enough for plants to do well in, so you're really not gaining anything by planting too early. This is a tough time of year for gardners--we want to go out and get our hands dirty, but those of us who have gambled and lost in the past have learned lessons the hard way. It's just a couple of weeks--if you must, go purchase some plants so that you can move them around and get ideas on where they are going--then put them back into the potting shed or garage for the overnights until we get past these cold nighttime temps....

Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyCrash View Post
So I haven't planted anything yet and I'm kind of glad I haven't. I'm in Massachusetts and the past 3 nights (including tonight) we've had freeze/frost warnings.

My question tho is I am going to want to buy some plants in the next week or so. I noticed at a local nursery and at the local Walmart all the plants were left outside unprotected. Now the nursery I am not 100% sure but when I went by at 9pm I didn't see any protection on the plants or heaters or anything going. Not saying they couldn't have done something later in the night. It appears the owner lives onsite.

So how do you know if the plants are okay? Is it totally obvious by looking at the plants if they fared fine?
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:18 PM
 
2,063 posts, read 6,261,456 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
Even though the nurseries get their bedding flowers as early as March, it is often a good idea and be patient and not purchase annuals until Mother's Day or after.
That is not good advice for everyone by any means, it would apply to a very narrow group of people. That date might have been a week too early for my old zone 5 garden but in my zone 7 garden I have just about all of my annuals in already and I haven't jumped the gun for my area. If I waited until after Mother's Day my plants wouldn't make it because it would be too hot for the small plants to root fast enough to keep the plant drawing up enough water to live. For a more accurate date than a once size fits all date gardeners may want go by their zone and a local average last frost.

There are many places where you can find the last average frost date for your home. A good one is the following which is by zip code: Lookup your first and last freeze/frost dates by zip code

A typical general table that comes close enough in many cases is one like this: frost dates last spring frost first fall frost
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