The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

The Garden Guide

January 11, 2013

Ask A Master Gardener

TARBORO — Nancy H. (Tarboro) asks - The weatherman is calling for highs in the mid-70s over the next few days; what effect will this have on my ornamental plants and should I be concerned? Will the warm weather wither my plants?

The quick answer is: It depends. On how long will the warm temps last and will the temps drop gradually after the warm-up or will there be a severe & quick drop in temperature after the warm up.

In addition, it depends on the particular plants involved and your location, how your plants fare depends on how quickly cold temperatures return, how cold it gets, and other environmental factors.

A sudden drop to below-freezing temperatures following the warm weather in early January would severely stress many plants. But most plants should acclimate OK with a gradual return to more normal winter temperatures.

It is likely some flower buds will be killed. So we may see fewer blooms on flowering trees and shrubs this spring. That would be a grave concern for commercial fruit growers, as they will harvest less fruit if too many flower buds die. But for most of us, it just means we'll see fewer flowers.

With regard to your lawn, the good news, say turf specialists, is that warm temperatures in early winter encouraged root growth in existing lawns and strong establishment of young seedlings in new lawns planted last fall. The bad news is, if temperatures drop too fast, lush top-growth may be more prone to freezing damage. So you should avoid walking on lawns as much as possible until the soil dries out and grass starts growing again in spring.

While the picture is more complicated concerning fruit trees, in general, flower buds on fruit trees won't be as cold-hardy this year due to the combination of warm weather and fluctuating temperatures, say fruit specialists. Many flower buds could be killed if temperatures drop rapidly below freezing, reducing flowering in spring and fruit harvests later.

It's a similar story for ornamental trees and shrubs. Most woody plants have evolved to deal with a brief spell of unseasonably warm weather. With most woody plants in the Northeast, buds won't open during the first warm spell and then get killed by a return to cold temperatures because buds require a period of cold temperatures to break dormancy. But we now grow many ornamental trees and shrubs far from their native range. Some of these trees and shrubs have shorter chilling requirements, and may begin to flower prematurely if we have prolonged warm weather in winter. So we'll lose some of those flowers for this season, but the long-term health of most plants probably won't be affected.

There are a lot more details regarding warm winter effects on the following site:  http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/warm_winter/

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The Garden Guide
  • pink-nerine.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    Edgecombe’s Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are holding their Spring-Planting Bulb Event tomorrow (March 23) at Marrow-Pitt Ace Home Center in the garden department from 10 a.m. until 1 pm. The volunteers will be giving demonstrations on basic bulb planting as well as container planting (bring your own or purchase one from stock).  A variety of pre-packaged summer and fall-blooming bulbs will be sold including: ginger lilies, rain lilies, galtonia, agapanthus, tuberosa, liatris, tigridia, cannas, nerines and many more.  Proceeds from the bulb sales will fund the Extension Master Gardener Volunteers’ spring/summer projects, including those sanctioned by this year’s America in Bloom competition committee. Ace is located at 1713 N. Main St.

    March 22, 2013 2 Photos

  • Master-Gardener.jpg "Ask A Master Gardener"

    Buddy H. (Tarboro) asks: I discovered this unusual substance wrapping the stems on all of my compacta holly when I was pruning them last week.

    March 15, 2013 1 Photo

  • Weeds.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    "As the promise of spring begins to beckon the attention of "dormant" gardeners this time of year, so it is with those dormant weeds that will appear soon enough, making for a lot of catch up work to get our lawns ready for show time," says local Master Gardener Trainee, Bernice Pitt who has just completed certification in an NC State University course in Turf Management.  Pitt is manager of the lawn and garden center at Marrow-Pitt Ace Home Center in Tarboro and is ready to help you with solutions in
    maintaining your lawn.  "I have found that the best source for answers to questions regarding turf grasses is the site:
    www.turffiles.ncsu.edu and another,
    www.turfweedmanagement.ncsu./weedmanagement.aspx," Pitt added. "It's where we found answers to this week's questions."

    March 8, 2013 1 Photo

  • Master Gardener.jpg "Ask A Master Gardener"

    "Ask A Master Gardener" is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management. Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provides answers.
    Submit your questions by email to  askemgv@gmail.com, call the local Extension Center at 641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to "Ask A Master Gardener", c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, 27886.

    February 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • N1204P66020C.jpg “Ask A Master Gardener”

    Ronnie E. (Conetoe) asks: What is the best temperature and method to store fresh pecans?

    February 8, 2013 1 Photo

  • Filbrun 2.jpg Sanitation: An Important Garden Chore

    So, what will tomorrow bring?  At this time of year, we are riding the roller coaster up and down as winter and spring duke it out.  While it is still too early to start most seeded varieties of annual flower and vegetable varieties, it is not too early to prepare for the upcoming gardening season.

    February 6, 2013 1 Photo

  • "Ask A Master Gardener"

    John W. (Tarboro) Asks: A neighbor posed this question to pass along. They did nothing to winterize their yard and, as a result, have all of the winter-type weeds that survive everything. They wanted to know if there is anything they can do now to kill off the weeds and what and when do they start to try and green up their yard and kill back weeds as we head out of winter.

    February 4, 2013

  • image002-resized.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    This week, we have two questions coming from visitors to the Blount-Bridgers House Garden.  The garden committee works regularly each week to maintain this lovely garden oasis in Tarboro’s Historic District. Garden manager, Jeni Filbrun invites you to join the volunteers, “the weekly weeders,” each Wednesday morning at 10 for an hour of garden tending.

    January 28, 2013 3 Photos

  • Master gardener.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    “Ask A Master Gardener” is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management.  Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provide answers.  
    Submit your questions by email to askemgv@gmail.com.  Or call the local Extension Center at 252-641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to “Ask A Master Gardener”, c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.

    January 11, 2013 1 Photo

  • paperwhite bulbs-3.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    “Ask A Master Gardener” is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management.  Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provide answers.  
    Submit your questions by email to askemgv@gmail.com.  Or call the local Extension Center at 252-641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to “Ask A Master Gardener”, c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.

    January 4, 2013 1 Photo

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