March Weekend Frost Warning

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Saturday, March 12th will start off the day with temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s. However, when the rain moves off the temperatures will start to drop. We are expecting temperatures to drop nearly 40 degrees reaching down into the upper 20’s by Sunday morning. For those who have tender plants that are likely to get hurt by a frost, covering those plants with an old bedsheet may be just the ticket to saving the plants.

Lettuce row spacing

Lettuce row spacing. Photo by: Michael Thomas

There are a lot of plants that are cold tolerant that should weather the temperature drop just fine. These would include annuals such as snap dragons, pansies, and dianthus. Bulbs that are up and flowering now including tulips, daffodils, and even the irises that have been in the ground all winter should be fine as well.

Newly planted perennials, those that were purchased this year, may not be as hardy and should likely be covered up during this cold snap. Other plants that may need a little protection would include blueberries with flower buds that have swollen or are open, fig bushes that have started to leaf out already, strawberries and, in my case, some tender seedlings that were planted a little earlier than they should have been.

The best frost protection will be an old sheet or blanket covered over the plant or plants. If the wind is blowing hard enough it will blow the sheet or blanket off the plants, you may need to anchor the corners or tie it around the plant to keep it in place. If the plant is small enough that it can be covered by a large pot or 5-gallon bucket without the pot or bucket touching the plant, this would work as well. A heavy rock or brick placed on top of the pot or bucket should keep it in place unless the wind is really whipping out there.

Don’t use plastic sheeting unless there are supports to keep the plastic off the plants. Plastic tends to transfer the cold from outside directly to the plants when the plastic is touching the plants. This defeats the purpose of covering the plants.

Another don’t is, don’t forget to take the cover off once the temperature has risen out of the danger zone and into the mid 30’s.

Written By

Shawn Banks, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionShawn BanksCounty Extension Director & Extension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture Call Shawn Email Shawn N.C. Cooperative Extension, Carteret County Center
Updated on Mar 11, 2022
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