Cold injury can be hard to diagnose


It’s that time of the year for people to start worrying about their spring bulbs sticking out of the ground. My advice is don’t!

This happens to some degree or another every year. This year is seems like I saw them peeping up even before Christmas. Since they have been out of the ground for awhile, they are pretty hardened off to freezing temperatures. I noticed that even the recent single digit temperatures didn’t do any damage.

Most foliage damage to these plants occurs when they are actively growing and are very tender a few days prior to a temperature drop. This is when the plant cells are most sensitive to freezing.

Cold injury to plants in somewhat confusing. Winter injury is a term that is used to cover the gamut from fall, winter and spring damage to plants caused by a variety of reasons.

It is also very difficult to really determine what actually caused the injury. For instance, if we have an extremely dry summer, fall and winter, plants may dry out due to lack of water and not cold temperatures.

Sometimes winter damage doesn’t even show up for a couple of years, making it even harder to diagnose.

I remember the year after the 1988 drought. I was working in a garden center, and for some reason we had numerous customers come into the store complaining of dead crabapple trees in June. These were trees that were anywhere from newly planted on up to mature.

We ruled out all other types of damage and believed that it was due to the drought from the previous year. The plants had enough reserves to leaf out in the spring. However, when the heat of summer hit, they didn’t have enough of a root system to support the plant.

Low temperature injury occurs when plants are exposed to temperatures lower than they tolerate. This can be avoided by using plants that are recommended for your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. You can find the map by doing an online search for that term.

Our plant zone in the Miami Valley is 6a. Plants that are listed in zones with higher numbers might not survive our winters.

I used the words “might not survive.” As gardeners, we tend to push the envelope and try to get some of those plants that are listed for further south to grow in our gardens.

And sometimes we succeed. This is usually due to microclimates that we create in our landscape to protect the plants. It’s also possibly due to the fact that the temperatures never drop low enough to cause failure.

The hardiness zone is a recommendation in order to understand which plants will thrive in your location. Keep in mind that plants are affected by a lot of environmental factors; therefore, we don’t always know what might cause plant injury.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

How headache pain happens and what can help
How headache pain happens and what can help

If you’ve noticed an uptick in how often you’ve had a headache this summer, you’re not alone. Allergies, travel stress, dehydration, humidity and extreme heat can all lead to headaches. “Although there are several types of headaches, migraine and tension headaches are the most common,” says neurologist Michelle Noel, DO...
Fiona the hippo is 6 months old today, so here are 6 of our FAVORITE photos
Fiona the hippo is 6 months old today, so here are 6 of our FAVORITE photos

She’s the little hippo that could. Well, maybe not so little anymore. Regardless, she’s won over millions of hearts and has plenty of fans. Today, July 24, Fiona turns six months old. What better way to celebrate this milestone than with six of our favorite photos?
It’s the 2nd-leading cause of absence from work

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, but it’s the effect the health issue can have on one’s everyday life that has the greatest impact on sufferers. Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a health issue that affects up to 20 percent of Americans with many chronic symptoms such as...
Swimmer’s ear can be avoided, here’s how

Whether you’re plunging into your neighborhood pool or jumping waves at the beach, an ugly bout of swimmer’s ear may be just a splash away. Acute otitis externa, commonly known as swimmer’s ear, is an infection of the ear canal - the tubular opening that carries sound from the outside of the body to the eardrum. “The infection...
Parenting with the Kid Whisperer: Mom or servant? Hmmm…

Dear Kid Whisperer, I have three boys, aged 8, 12, and 16, who are all quite disrespectful and very unappreciative of me. It’s very hurtful. I am a stay-at-home mom and I think of myself as being great at my job. I cook them hot meals, do their laundry, clean their rooms, drive them everywhere, and help them with their homework. I take care of...
More Stories