It got surprisingly cold these past few days. I do not know about you, but among other things I was worried about my plants.
One thing the plants had in their favor was that the temperature didn’t suddenly drop. While there were some lovely warm days earlier last week, it got cold on Wednesday and the temperature slowly declined. There was moisture as well which helps plants tolerate cold better. With the temperature slowly dropping, the plants had time to acclimate.
Actively blooming fruit trees will suffer from freezing temperatures. If the temperatures are in the single digits, they can lose as much as 90% of their bloom. Fortunately, fruit trees, including peaches, that are adapted to the area shouldn’t be blooming right now. The weather hasn’t been warm enough to trigger bloom in adapted varieties yet.
Dormant peach trees with fully dormant buds should be fine. Peach trees with buds just slightly swollen may see some bud death, but will not lose all their flower buds. This bud thinning isn’t a bad thing, because less fruit buds means you get bigger fruit.
Figs and pomegranates, if planted in unprotected locations, may freeze down to the ground. This is unlikely to kill them. Many fig varieties can freeze down to the ground and still get big enough to produce fruit the same year. A pomegranate tree that freezes down to the ground will take a few years to grow big enough to produce fruit again. Loquats will probably suffer in this weather, unless planted in a protected location.
I’m a little worried about the ash trees I see blooming already. There may be some dieback of the branches, but mature trees should survive. Other trees that are fully dormant and live oaks should be fine with the cold temperatures, unless they are damaged by ice.
There are not many vegetables that can survive temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if uncovered. Kale and spinach, possibly some varieties of cabbages, beets, carrots and lettuce may be able to take temperatures down to this and a little further. Garlic will probably survive, but depending on previous weather conditions it might grow strangely. Past 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the only thing I would risk a bet on surviving is spinach, though carrot roots should be fine if ready to pick.
If you have one of these plants in your landscape, wait a few days to see how the plant responds. It might be perfectly fine. If it does start to dieback, cut back the plant to healthy living wood (except on palm trees). Replace herbaceous plants and trees with plants better adapted to the area.
There are positives with this big cold snap. This weather is likely to knock back insect populations. We got some more chill hours for the peach trees and we got precipitation.