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Protecting your plants during the cold weather

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 6:59 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - With the threat of wintry weather over Tuesday and possibly into Wednesday, Michiana residents will need to plan ahead to protect some of their plants.

“Anything that definitely has a bloom or you can see the buds on, the flower buds on - the rhododendrons, the azaleas, certain strains of hydrangeas - get those covered with cloth as best as you can,” recommended Greg Leyes, nursery salesman at Ginger Valley.

Leyes said temperatures 25 degrees and colder will threaten the vitality of blossoms on plants and certain trees.

Residents with vegetable gardens shouldn’t worry about hearty crops in the cabbage family - or onion sets and planted potatoes, said Leyes. Elkhart County Purdue Extension Educator Jeff Burbrink said people with strawberries growing in their yards can cover the plants with straw overnight when temperatures become cold. But it’s important to remove the straw during the day.

He added: “The other thing to do is if you have a greenhouse, even a small greenhouse, be sure you shut the door and let that heat build up in the afternoons so that it will not get too cold in the greenhouse. You want it to be about 80 degrees or so before the greenhouse goes in the evening temperatures - if it’s unheated to keep it warm enough to keep the plants alive over the evening when the temperatures get that low.”

Should the temperatures dip sooner in the day on Wednesday, Steve Lecklider, with Lehman’s Orchard in Niles, is concerned there could be crop damage due to the plants’ prolonged exposure to the cold. However, the farm’s business model accounts for cold snaps.

Lecklider thinks a frost could help the orchard in one area, too.

“We have an awful lot of peaches, so we’re kind of hoping this will be a thinning frost because the amount of labor that would go into thinning the peaches at this point would be just unreal, so it would be more cost-effective to have a little bit of a frost,” he acknowledged.

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