Freeze warning in effect

Natalie Henry Richmond County Daily Journal

October 24, 2013

Richmond County’s first freeze of the season is right on schedule.

The National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning for much of of the central Carolina region beginning tonight into early Saturday morning. Overnight temperatures are expected to range between 27 degrees and 32 degrees —just cold enough to do some damage.

The coldest part of the day is expected to be between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m. Saturday.

Although the cold weather will not last too long — the forecast calls for a high of 60 on Saturday and an overnight low of 40 into Sunday — there are steps one can take to care for and preserve your plants and flowers.

Paige Burns, assistant horticulture agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Office in Rockingham, said that it all comes down to protection.

“Homeowners can use a sheet to cover plants before the sun goes down, or even a pile of leaves,” Burns said. “Anything that can add a layer of air for insulation and can capture warm air.”

Burns said it is important to keep plants watered.

“Make sure they have adequate moisture,” she said. “You can water during the day. Moist soil will absorb heat and can release it at night.”

Burns explains the reason some plants are so susceptible to freezing temperatures is that “once the temperature gets to freezing, liquid in plant cells freeze and this causes them to explode.”

Not all plants will be effected by the approaching frost. Some plants are more hardy and can sustain colder temperatures. Vegetables such as, beets, brussel sprouts, broccoli, carrots and kale could be considered cold weather champions. While most fall annuals like pansies, petunias and dusty millers can withstand lower temperatures than most flowers.

Looks can be deceiving, Burns said. Sometimes a plant that appears to be damaged can bounce back.

“Even if they look droopy and sad usually they will spring back,” she said.

If by chance a plant does die because of the freeze, Burn said it’s important to maintain a positive outlook.

“It’s nature taking it’s course. Time to move on to fall plants that are so attractive at this time.”