Forecast is calling for low temps in the Portland area over the next several days. The latest forecast that I saw indicates temps as low as 15 for Sunday night, which might be followed by a very cold Monday. On Monday the high is currently forecasted at 24 with an overnight low of 20! Even though this is pretty cold for us, the good news is that it looks like it will be brief. After a day or two of this, we should get back to normal winter temps by early to mid next week.
Evergreen, broadleaf plants are typically the most susceptible to cold weather damage. Oftentimes it’s just that, damage. Not death per se. Although I’ve had some plants suffer enough winter damage that I, hmm ... how shall I say … I hastened their death come spring because they were so unsightly. Consequently, there are some plants I choose to take extra steps to protect; astelia, coprosma, phormium and anything that I’ve been experimenting with that I think might be border-line hardy.
So what’s a gardener to do? Here’s a few tips on how to prepare your garden for a cold weather snap.
If you can, pull vulnerable plants that are in containers into a garage or into the greenhouse if you happen to have one. I've taken a couple of loads of my more fragile plants to the nursery greenhouse. If you have neither garage nor greenhouse, at least pull them under the eaves or under a table or bench and cover with frost cloth (or a sheet if you can't get your hands on frost cloth in time).
For in-ground plantings or potted plants that are too difficult to move, I recommend covering them with frost cloth. Investing in some frost cloth for cold snaps like these are dollars well spent. (See previous post for more on this, including photos).
Make sure that your evergreen plants are well watered before it gets cold, particularly those in your containers. Do this before it get too cold; dry plants are more susceptible to damage and you won’t be able to water them once the soil is frozen.
Relax and hope for the best; the weather’s gonna come and there’s nothing we can do about it. Besides, a garden dusted with snow is a beautiful site, yes?
You might want to also check out these past weather-related posts:
My Ghost Town (Photos and more on covering your plants with frost cloth).
Or browse the whole category of Weather.