Cold temperatures tonight threaten early Spring growth

Posted at 7:10 AM, Apr 06, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-06 18:26:00-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - With persistent north-northeast winds today, drier air, and clear skies overnight tonight, temperatures in all of central Virginia should fall into the mid-30s by early Saturday morning. Patchy frost is possible, but many parts of western Virginia may freeze. As a result, a Freeze Warning will be in effect from late Friday night through mid-morning Saturday.

Even temperatures in the mid-30s in the rest of central Virginia may have some of you with gardens a little concerned after an early start to our growing season. Despite my last name being a flower, I do not have a green thumb! So I went to Lewis Ginter Botantical Garden for help on how to protect our plants that have been thriving for more than a month in some cases.

Horticulturist Liz Fogel says that most of your plants tonight will be fine. However, sensitive plants (those not well-adjusted to cold temperatures in the 30s) will need a little TLC. Some of those plants include hydrangeas, vegetable gardens, annuals, and anything newly planted (both in-ground and in-pots). New plants are especially sensitive because they've never been exposed to these temperatures and simply aren't hardy enough yet.

Fogel has some great advice for you to take care of your early Spring gardens tonight! She says, "You can cover them with a sheet, using stakes to tent the sheet if the foliage is delicate, and bricks to weigh it down on the edges.  You can put the plants in a shed or garage overnight, or bring them into your house." All the varieties of tulips and daffodils "should be fine," according to Fogel.

Here's another green thumb trick from Fogel: "You can heavily water plants in pots -- the water delays freezing (this trick doesn't work if it's getting REALLY cold like in the low 20's)."

Remember, the mild Winter (4th warmest on record in Richmond) we experienced along with the 2nd warmest March on record does not mean freezing temperatures are uncommon in April, or even into May!

Meteorologist Carrie Rose
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