The Georgia Gardener: Special Edition December 7, 2006
Garden Friends,

Temperatures across much of north Georgia are forecast to fall in the low-20's or below overnight. Please consult the Kirk Mellish forecast for last-minute updates. Here are our thoughts on the effect cold will have on our landscapes:

What will happen

Tender annual flowers and vegetables outdoors will freeze. Goodbye to the impatiens and tomato vines that were still hanging on in your landscape or garden.

Winter annuals like pansies and ornamental cabbage will not be harmed. Pansies will have wilted leaves Friday morning. This is a normal reaction to cold and the leaves will be fine when it warms up. Consider watering them Friday afternoon if the soil is dry where you live.

What you should do

  • Turn off your automatic sprinkler system!
  • Bring topiary rosemary and your citrus plants indoors from your deck or patio.
  • Move hardy patio plants like roses and "color containers" up close to the wall of your home. Water them this evening before the cold hits.
  • Most shrubs and trees will not be harmed. Even the Knock Out roses that are still blooming won't be hurt, although some of the tender twigs may be killed. This shouldn't be cause for worry. Marginally hardy plants like sago palm and oleander should be protected. Also consider protecting about-to-bloom camellias with swollen buds and 'Miss Huff' lantana.

There are a few ways to protect plants

1. If they are low to the ground you can cover them with an old bed sheet. The cloth will usually trap enough of the earth's heat to prevent damage.

2. If the plant is taller than three feet, consider "tenting" it with plastic. Drive a tall wooden stake next to the center of the plant, leaving the top of the stake higher than the plant. Drape black plastic over the stake and the plant and anchor the edges of the plastic to the ground with stones or firewood. (Black plastic is better than clear plastic because it doesn't heat up as much when sunshine hits it.)

3. Remove the covers once temperatures have risen above 40 degrees.

Good luck and good gardening!
Walter Reeves and Theresa Schrum

Listen to Walter Reeves' "Lawn and Garden Show" on News-Talk 750 WSB, Saturdays 6am - 10am.
Walter Reeves, The Georgia Gardener, 1601 West Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta,GA 30309
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