Hard freeze leaves some plants vulnerable

By Monday morning, most of Kansas will have experienced a hard freeze but it doesn’t mean the end of the planting season.
Published: Oct. 25, 2020 at 9:56 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - For gardeners in southcentral Kansas, time is running out Sunday if they have some vulnerable plants outside they want to keep alive.

It’s as the first freezing temperatures are expected to arrive in Wichita with a wintery mix.

It also comes during a year when many more people were trying out their green thumb because of the pandemic.

A local nursery said there are some steps to protect your plants, while others will do perfectly fine.

“We’ve had to move a few plants in,” said Cathy Brady with Brady Nursery. “Some of our trees, like Japanese Maples, that we don’t want to get frozen if it goes from being not dormant to freezing like this, but most of your outdoor trees and shrubs will be fine. It doesn’t affect them. You know, we can plant pansies, kale, bulbs, things like that. This weather doesn’t affect those at all. Pansies take the cold weather really well, but trees and shrubs can still be planted. The cold weather doesn’t really affect them. They just go dormant.”

Four days ago, Kansas weather brought a flashback of summer, now winter is knocking on the door.

“Thursday I was in a T-shirt and shorts, and it was hot, and yesterday and today, it was very cold,” said Brady.

That cold will end the growing season for some plants if measures aren’t taken.

“If you have any tender plants outside. I mean, tropical house plants should be moved in by now, but other things that are still blooming. You can cover things up, you know, my mom’s geraniums were in full bloom, so we covered those up the other night," Brady said. “We just set up a couple of pieces of outdoor furniture and draped either cloth sheets or plastic sheets over them because you don’t want the cloth of plastic right touching the plant because the frost will go right through that.”

She added, “There’s a lot of annual flowers that are still blooming, so you can cover those up, or if you figure the season is done and not want to worry about it, you can let them get frosted, and the heard freeze will knock them down. Then you can cut them off or dig them out.”

This freeze could also have an impact on the fall color.

“We’ve got all these trees just starting to get fall color. In our nursery, in our tree fields around Wichita, you’re just getting nice fall color, and then these really hard freezes tonight and tomorrow night, and if we have freezing rain that will knock a lot of the leaves off,” said Brady.

Brady said to not forget about disconnecting garden hoses from faucets before that freeze comes.

For sprinkler systems, Brady said they had not yet shut off their’s yet because it’s expected to warm back up the next few days, and this weather won’t be enough to freeze the ground.

It is recommended that these systems don’t need to be completely shut down and blown out until nighttime temperatures regularly drop below freezing.

If people are looking to do some gardening before the full onset of winter, Brady said there’s still time to plant a few of those hardier plants and start to get trees into the ground.

“I’ve had people calling in wanting to just order trees over the phone, so I’ve been going outside tagging trees today people that didn’t want to come out.” Brady said, “One lady said between the football game and the weather, she couldn’t get her husband out today, but she had trees she had in mind."

Brady advises people who moved plants inside to keep them out of the direct path of heating air vents and adequately water them since they will dry out faster.

She also said now is the time to winterize and fertilize the lawn.

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