How are your plants coping with the cold winter weather?

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Shirley Hardy
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How are your plants coping with the cold winter weather?

Winter has set in here in Tenterfield, NSW. Its colder than normal and the cold weather set in very quickly in less than a week. Just after 8PM today it was just 2 degrees Celcius and dropping. We'd normally see those type of temperatures around 11PM not just and hour or two immediately after dark. Normally it gets to minus 14 degrees Celcius here in Winter but can be warmer if the seasons are out of wack and what not.

My newly planted garden is under extreme stress from the cold right now. If the plants can't adapt I may lose most of my garden plants, including all my palms, wattles, ferns, native violets,honeysuckle - everything I planted within the last 12 months. If they die off and don't reshoot in spring I'm ripping them all out before next summer is over and planting the garden out with something tougher.

The only plants toughening it out and appear unaffected by the extreme cold are the grevilleas, callistemons, cacti and onions, and a newly bought leptospermum and rose bush. 

This extreme and sudden coldness has made me rethink about which native plants can actually survive in the extreme cold here.  

Enough of my ranting. How are your plants coping with the colder weather? And are they burning and drooping from the cold weather?

Woko
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No drooping or burning here, Shirley. The indigenous vegetation, as expected, is surviving with a smile. 

GregL
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The biggest problem for me is frost in spring when there is soft new growth. The violets that grow in my bushland are V. betonicifolia, they are frost hardy. We have problems with our tea roses which are damaged by spring frosts. I use sprinklers to protect my vineyard from frosts in spring, that works well.

jason

Mine are doing well, but it never really gets cold in Brisbane. Just dry, so very dry. 

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Shirley Hardy
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GregL wrote:

The biggest problem for me is frost in spring when there is soft new growth. The violets that grow in my bushland are V. betonicifolia, they are frost hardy. We have problems with our tea roses which are damaged by spring frosts. I use sprinklers to protect my vineyard from frosts in spring, that works well.

I think roses have their own different biological clock than what native plants have, Greg. Here in Tenterfield rose bushes in other people's gardens are still in bloom despite it being officially winter now. I think they are becoming frost tolerant. We get frosts here in Autumn and then again in early Spring. 

I've actually stopped ripping out the plants that look like they are dieing off from the frost. I figure if I leave them alone they might just grow back in Spring/Summer. If they don't they will then be ripped out at the end of next Summer. I had so much trouble keeping plants alive to begin with as the soil and weather conditions were extremely tough on seedlings here. But last summer was just ridiculous. It made me start thinking about growing tougher desert plants here instead. I mean, its pretty bad when even wattles get sunburnt and frost damage. Mine are still young but these plants are supposed to be tough as heck. 

The one thing I have learnt about plants is they are the most adaptive species of life on this planet. They have a lot more dna thingies than we mammals do and if they need to can change their entire bioligical structure in just 8 days, if under mass attack by predators. You need a whole heap of dna and stuff to do something like that. Its very impressive actually. We humans can't do that. 

In my mind I talk to my plants to tell them to adapt to the weather and not kill each other off - I need real friends and a life!!!! Whether they hear me is another question. It actually looks like my 3 Native Frangipani tree seedlings are killing off the plants inbetween themselves and the 2 wattles to the left and right of themselves. If only the Frangipanis would kill off the celery seedlings instead. I don't believe I'm still digging up celery seedlings in winter. When will all those celery seeds stop germinating? 

If only native plants in my garden would self seed so prolifically as the celery has, I'd be delirious with joy!

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Shirley Hardy
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I'm glad to hear that your native plants, Woko and Jason, are doing fine. Its nice to know your plants are adaptive to the climate. 

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Woko
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Mine have had millions of years to do that, Shirley. Whether they'll be able to adapt quickly enough to cope with the sudden onrush of human-induced climate change is another question.

Shirley Hardy
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No they haven't Woko, as that would mean the plants on your property are actually millions of years old. Their species in general may have adapted over the course of millions of years to become what they are today - that's all that that means. Your plants have only been around from the moment they germinated from their seed however long that has been. I'm just being technical; don't mind me.

I often question whether us humans are the ones responsible for the increase in climate change all the time. I mean, I know its true but I just haven't connected the dots together despite all the evidence for it.

Anyway, I'm sure your plants will adapt to the ever changing weather. It'll probably take them a year or two to properly adapt but they'll survive. Only the strongest ones will survive though. The ones with less genes to adapt will probably die off but that's a good thing because then the ones that have adapted can reestablish the area with their new genes in their offspring. Plants are better at it than us humans. Your plants will still be there after we're all long gone unless someone comes along and chops them all down. I hope that never happens (someone chopping them down). 

Plants are just so fascinating!

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Shirley Hardy
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Now that it is much colder and is officially winter, my garden is starting to look terrible. Its hard to tell but the callistemon champagnes (2) don't look their normal selves. We;ve had less sunlight for weeks on end. The garden looks dormant except for the grevilleas are in flower. The garden looks like it is affected by the frigid cold weather we've been getting of late and there has been talk of snow for a week now but hasn't happened. This icy cold/snowy type weather has come in 4 weeks early. A sign of things to come I guess. I dread what Summer is going to bring and if it starts in Spring again. At least last Summer wasn't as hot as the previous one but it was much longer.  I've always thought that our weather here is eventually going to turn into just 2 seasons: summer and winter, and autumn and spring will cease to exist. That is what appears to be actually happening here.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Shirley Hardy
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I woke up early this morning to discover frost everywhere. What the heck? Frost in winter!!!???? We don't get frost in winter here but now we do, as of 2016. Now I know why my plants look so terrible - the frost is responsible for it.

Is anyone else getting frost out of the normal frost season?

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Woko
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Completely frostless here on the south eastern slopes of the Mt Lofty Ranges in SA. So far. We occasionally experience a frost in winter & early spring but the indigenous vegetation I've planted & encouraged is well adapted to these conditions (it ought to be since the two have lived together for aeons) & so survives well.

Shirley Hardy
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My plants seem to be adapting. My Fringed Wattle is producing little flower stalks at this very moment. My Koda and Small Leaved Tamarind trees have turned fully decidious on me. Small Leaved Tamarind trees are evergreen trees but mine is now decidious. Their trunks are still green. I tried pulling out by hand one of the Koda tree seedlings yesterday and I couldn't even budge it from the ground not even a millimetre. It was stuck fast in the ground - and I'm talking about a completely defoliated stick that's less than 30cm tall. I checked my plants yesterday and even the palms I thought I had lost were still green at the base. So I may not have even lost any of my Walking Stick Palms. I thought I'd lose them all to the heavy frosts but they are all determined to live. 

I water my garden once a month now but it is starting to warm up again. I'm actually only worried about my native frangipani trees as they don't look like they are doing so good but are still alive. I'm hoping they will adapt and survive. I'm sure they will as 12 months ago I said the same thing about my Fringed Wattle. It nearly died but it adapted and them flourished with only slight tip burn from the frosts this year. 

My new plants are trying to adapt and syncronise their flowering season to the right weather conditions - the newer ones that are still green with frost damaged leaves. That is something I cannot help them with. They will all probably resort to becoming Spring or Summer flowering plants until they are bigger and can deal with flowering in Winter. 

I find it fascinating studying my plants' behaviour, especially in Autumn/Winter. My Abelias are supposed to flower all year round and in fact did try doing that to begin with. But the frosts killed off the flowers and turned their exposed leaves black. They then went into dormancy and to date have remained dormant: dwarf and full sized species alike. 

There is no sign of leaf growth from any of my plants but surprisingly some of my plants are beginning to develope flowers. Fringed Wattle flowers in July/August. How exciting! It will break up the winter flowering red grevilleas colours, along with the bulbs I planted and some are coming into flower right now. 

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

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