WASHINGTON — Just a few days ago, many D.C.-area residents were outside working in their lawns and gardens in spring weather, and now there’s a chance of frost in the forecast.
Is it time for gardeners to panic?
Probably not, says WTOP garden editor Mike McGrath.
“All of the normal plants, plants that have been in their garden for years, the shrubs, the trees, the spring bulbs, these plants are fine. They’re very used to these kind of conditions. Spring bulbs, shrubs that have been in your home forever, they expect this, and they have kind of built-in antifreeze. So those kind of existing plants don’t need any attention from you whatsoever.”
He adds that things like pansies, peas, lettuce and spinach should also be alright in the cold. No need to cover them.
“All these plants cannot only tolerate cold temperatures, they really enjoy them. Even snow will not bother them. That’s why they’re called snow peas, because once they have sprouted the plants can take a light cover of snow.”
McGrath says the only plants that could suffer from the cold temperatures are recently planted summer plants.
“I have, believe it or not, gotten emails from people who’ve already planted their tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers and things like that. Essentially, there’s no way to sugarcoat it, they either dig those plants up and bring them back inside and give them hot chocolate and a blanket and apologize to them…or they will definitely lose them.”
He says you need to wait another month before planting summer crops.
“Those plants should not be installed until nighttime temperatures are reliably in the 50s. Daytime temperatures don’t count. You really want to look at the nighttime temperatures for the next five to 10 days to know that it’s safe to plant the crops of summer.”