Bringing your garden back to life after a freeze - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Bringing your garden back to life after a freeze

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A lot of valley homeowners did what they could to protect their plants from the cold by covering them with sheets or frost cloth.

What is surprising to some is that their plants are showing frost damage when you lift the sheets.

Our plant expert says five nights of freezing temperatures in the valley is unprecedented in recent history. And Tuesday night marks day 5.

So even covering plants may not totally protect them when we're talking about these consecutive nights of cold air.

"Looks like someone's washing machine or dryer threw up in some yards, it's a little of everything out there," says Jay Harper of Harper's Nurseries.

Harper met us at Shannon Gitell's home in Phoenix for a walk-through diagnosis of damage done to Shannon's plants.

"I was surprised at the damage that happened with the ones that were covered, I thought by covering them, they would be totally protected from the frost," she says.

Shannon didn't cover the row of Bougainvillea along her back fence because they were too big. The deep freeze took its toll.

Harper says a simple scratch test on a main branch will tell you its condition.

"If you've got good bright tissue, it's going to be fine, the best thing to do right now is absolutely nothing."

After all, it might freeze again, and as unattractive as it is, all the dead foliage protects the undamaged plant underneath.

Shannon's gardenias are doing beautifully because they're cold hardy and under an eave of the house.

Her vegetable garden -- not so much.

"We get away with sometimes growing this stuff through the fall and winter, and some winters we get lucky and it doesn't freeze, but even tomatoes and peppers that got covered didn't make it," says Harper.

Bottom line, the cold hardy vegetables like carrots, chard, and eggplant are fine.

Advice from Jay Harper -- protect for one more night because we're still at risk for a freeze.

This will make us all more sensitive this spring when we're planting. Instead of buying what we like based on color, height, and leaf shape, we will ask important questions, like how frost tolerant and hardy it is.


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