The November Freeze and Your Landscape

This past November brought record low temperatures to the Denver area, in fact the third largest temperature drop in recorded history for the metro. We had warm early fall temperatures, with no hard frost until November 11. The temperature fell 77 degrees, from a high of 64 degrees on November 10 to the low of -13 degrees early on November 12. While this weather event may just seem like another quirk of Colorado weather, the sudden snap to below zero temperatures, following a particularly stressful winter in 2013, has some serious implications for our landscape.

150409-cityfloralOf most concern are broadleaf evergreens such as boxwood and euonymus. Conifers like pine, spruce trees and arborvitae have also suffered. You may have noticed the endless rows of brown or browning boxwoods. Pines and arborvitae are looking brown or grayish. This is freeze damage, and depending on the severity, be the end of the road for these plants.  Other trees and shrubs did not drop their leaves as they normally do in the fall. Leaf drop is a critical part of the hardening-off process that protects the plant and buds.  These plants went into winter unprepared for winter stresses.

Take a little time to assess the freeze damage to your landscape. The amount of loss will not be fully clear until everything wakes up for the spring growing season, which is already 2-3 weeks ahead this year. It looks like there will be significant losses in our area, particular evergreens.  We have heard from area parks employees that they expect significant expenses for the next three years to mitigate and replace plants damaged in the freeze.

To help ease the impact of replacing impacted plant material, City Floral is currently working with our vendors to secure significant inventory of key items, such as boxwoods, at negotiated prices that will allow us to offer them to individuals needing them at a reduced price.  This is critical; supply of many of these plants is at near record lows due to lack of new crop production during the most recent economic downturn.  We are currently asking anyone who may be interested to contact us at (303) 399-1177 to schedule an appointment or to provide an indication on the type and quantity of plants that you may need. We are working to negotiate the best possible rates and ensure that our quantities in stock are sufficient.

Thinking about next winter, remember plants that receive regular watering, proper fertilization, and mulch or ground cover protection at the base have a much better chance of surviving extreme weather. Winter watering can help too; it can lessen drought stress, freeze damage to roots, and heat loss caused by dry soils and wind.  City Floral recommends once monthly watering during the winter months or whenever the surface of the ground is sufficiently thawed to accept water.

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