It is an understatement that 2017 has been a strange year for weather. The following impact of the recent freeze on local plants is compiled from multiple sources. It may help you anticipate how your plants will perform this year.
According to the Weather Channel, February was the warmest on record and March has been near-record cold. While the original predictions were for peak Washington DC cherry tree bloom 20 days early, the date for the peak kept getting pushed back. Now, because so many buds were so far ahead of the recent freeze, there is a good chance that many blossoms will be killed and this year will be a very disappointing year for the cherry blossoms, as well as many other plants.
Today’s (March 16) National Weather Service alert indicates a continuing hard freeze warning through 10AM which means that “Many ornamental trees, fruit trees, and flowers have already started to bloom, and will be susceptible to a hard freeze.”
We can expect the hard freeze to damage many typical plants such as Lilac, magnolias, forsythia, hydrangeas (macrophylia) ((not Pee Gees/Annabels)), and possibly azalea and rhododendron. Healthy trees and shrubs have the ability to leaf out again if the initial growth is harmed. Typically, roots and crowns should be unharmed and should have a second growth and recover by Summer. Many plants that look completely dead will begin to recover when the weather warms up. The method of recovery and resulting appearance will not always match our idea of how the plant should look or behave in our gardens. Many plants will have lost all their woody parts, but will begin to re-grow from root or stem tissue. This is normal and typical recovery process for the plant. Most fescue lawns will not be severely damaged.
For our region, the last frost may occur as late as early May. For future freeze periods when plants are close to blossoming, the following steps are recommended: