As a native of north central Kentucky Kris Stone has years of experience with the common everyday challenges of maintaining a healthy landscape in the difficult climate of the Ohio Valley. Currently Kris resides in Northern Kentucky just outside of Burlington and is the Director of Boone County Arboretum.

Kris holds a Bachelor's of Science in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Kentucky, maintains certification as an ISA Certified Arborist, and is an active board member for the following organizations: KY Arborist Association, Northern KY Urban and Community Forestry Council, KY Exotic Pest Plant Council, Friends of Boone County Arboretum, and technical advisor to the Boone County Urban Forest Commission. Kris is passionate about his life long love of plants and enjoys spreading his knowledge and experience to the public he serves.

 

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January thaw
by Kristopher Stone - posted 01/03/11

After a very long, cold, snowy December we brought in the New Year with warm temperatures and soaking rains to wash away all the snow and ice.  But what does this mean for our landscape plants? 

The widespread drought of late summer and most of the fall had significant impacts to our plants in terms of stress.  November was relatively mild, but brought rain that effectively ended the drought.  Unfortunately the drought was ongoing at a time when plants also needed to be in the process of going into winter dormancy. In a weakened state from the drought, it is likely that plants experienced some interference in this normal process of building cold tolerance.

The next worrisome factor comes with the mild and eventually rainy November weather that we experienced.  This was very helpful to plant material, especially those that are broadleaf evergreens and prone to winter desiccation.  Unfortunately right after the Thanksgiving Holiday everything changed and our relatively mild weather turned off like a light switch as we experienced long lasting sustained cold with sub freezing high temperatures and single digit to below zero low temperatures.  Plant material therefore may be at increased risk from suffering winter injury this year as a result, if plants were not able to develop cold hardiness quickly enough to handle the weather conditions that occurred in December. 

Winter dessication and cold injury on an evergreen azalea variety.

So now you ask, what should we do for the rest of the winter?  The damage is mostly already done unfortunately, but if and when we have January / early February thaws we should definitely be sure to water evergreen plant material (especially those recently planted) since they are the most at risk for winter desiccation.  Deciduous plant material mostly likely won’t show signs of winter damage until spring. Some plants may flower poorly from flower bud damage while others my show significant dieback of branches from the effects of both the severe drought, and sudden cold in late fall.  Unfortunately it will be hard to tell for sure which was most damaging, but we can be assured neither event was healthy for our plants to endure.  

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