Proctor: Protect plants as storm approaches

KUSA - Nature has reminded us once again that Colorado gardening is unpredictable. Take precautions as best you can to protect the most vulnerable plants.

Heavy, wet snow can break tree limbs. Snow on small trees can be knocked off from underneath with a broom. Mature trees are almost impossible to protect but if it's above freezing, a blast from the hose may help dislodge snow. If leaves get frozen, don't stress. Trees carry sets of auxiliary leaf buds just in case. They will open these in a few weeks after a hard freeze if necessary.

Cool season flowers and vegetables will weather the storm without too much difficulty. Pansies, dianthus, ornamental kale and primroses will likely be fine, if a bit squashed. If they're in pots that you can manage, haul them to a garage or inside. Peas, potatoes, kale, lettuce, carrots, parsley, spinach and chard will also survive relatively unscathed. Warm season vegetables--which shouldn't have been set out yet--are highly vulnerable. Even if they survive, tomatoes, peppers, basil, eggplant and squash may stunt and never grow properly. Attempt to cover them with waste baskets, buckets or sheets. Be prepared to replace them if you jumped the gun by planting them.

The same goes for heat-loving annuals such as coleus, begonias, dahlias, zinnias, marigolds, salvia and sweet potato vines. Cover as best you can or bring them inside if possible. Some annuals may fare better than others and may squeak by. Geraniums, petunias, lobelia and verbena may come through alright, depending on how low the temperature actually drops. When in doubt, however, protect them as best you can.

It may take some time to haul pots indoors or to round up all your spare sheets, tablecloths and curtains. With a bit of effort, however, your plants may weather the storm with little lasting damage.


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