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Winterizing

When the freeze warning comes, you will want to remove and bring in the controller assembly of your drip-irrigation system. If you have questions or need help, I offer fall clean-up service. Please contact me.

A picture and description of how to remove the controller assembly is available on my website: Winterize. You do not need to blow-out the water lines; in fact, doing so will likely cause damage since it is a low-pressure system. Don't forget to remove the battery from the green timer.

Vegetable Gardening

If you still have tomatoes on the vine and you'd like to encourage them to ripen up, significanly cut back on the water.

If you are wondering what else your vegetable garden needs for the winter, I encourage you attend this class offered by the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins: "Putting the Garden to Bed."  

Next Year's Expansion

Are you thinking of adding to or changing around your container gardens next summer? Local nurseries have their pottery on clearance sale for as much as 50% off!  Contact me to add the irrigation lines and you'll be ready for plants next May.


Plants and Cold Weather

It’s hard to believe its October when our weather has been so incredibly warm! Surely the cool autumn days are coming or perhaps we’ll have an abrupt arrival of winter with little warning. Some of our annual and perennial plants are considered “cold-hardy” or “cold-tolerant” whereas other plants will die at the first frost.

It is impossible to tell just by looking at the plant how it will respond to the cold because freeze damage happens at the cellular level. The water outside plant cell walls freezes when it reaches 32 degrees. But the water inside the plant cells contains substances such as dissolved salts, sugars and enzymes. These work more or less like antifreeze.  When ice forms between plant cells, the water inside the cells is drawn out through the cell walls, causing the cells to shrink. This pressure causes the cell walls to break. If the temperature quickly plummets, ice crystals may form inside the cells. In either case the cell dies.

More often, we see damage when icy water between the cells begins to thaw and flows back into shrunken cells. During a quick thaw, the shrunken cell swells so quickly the walls break. When this happens, you may think the plants look OK in the early morning, but are dead after it warms up. This is why you do not want to wash frost and ice off plants the morning after a freeze. This raises the temperature too quickly and usually damages the plant's cell tissues.

Many different factors affect whether or not a plant has freeze damage:

  • The duration of the freezing temperature – just as you would not expect ice in your ice tray the moment you put it in the freezer, it takes a sustained 32 degrees or colder for freeze damage to occur.
  • The plant’s acclimation – in late fall our plants are accustomed to the outdoor temperatures. In early spring when we first put them out, they are much more susceptible to frost.
  • Each plant's individual hardiness - some plants simply have more “antifreeze” ability in their cells than others.

The annual flowers used in container gardens generally won’t survive a frost and they rarely survive the winter. If you have special plants you want to bring in, consider putting them in quarantine in the garage for a couple of weeks to avoid bringing bugs in the house.

In the meantime, enjoy our mild fall weather!

Stephanie Selig
tel: (970) 988-3808
Stephanie@patioplantsunlimited.com
www.patioplantsunlimited.com