Frost and Freeze Alert

By Paul James

It looks as though the overnight lows both Saturday and Sunday could hover at or dip below freezing throughout the area. But given that it’s late October, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The real question is what effect, if any, will the cold temperatures have on plants?

And the answer is, not much. Landscape plants – deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs and perennials -- won’t be fazed at all, so there’s no need to cover anything.

Mums and pansies – whether in the ground or in containers – will also be fine.

Fall vegetables and most herbs will be okay too, although if you’ve still got summer crops such as tomatoes and peppers, they aren’t likely to survive even with protection. The same is true of basil and cilantro. But lettuce, spinach, and other greens, as well as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, kale, and onions will actually benefit from a cold snap because it concentrates their sugars (and makes them taste even better!).

Of course you will need to bring in any tropicals that you’ve had growing in containers outside, assuming you haven’t done so already. You can move them in temporarily, that is until overnight temperatures warm up a bit, but at this time of year you really should consider moving them in for the winter anyway.

So just kick back and relax, knowing all your plants will be just fine. Or said another way, about the only thing you need to do in response to the frost and freeze alert is chill.