You’ve heard the expression, “all good things come with a price”?
Well, although we’ve enjoyed the last few months of decidedly autumnal weather, we’re probably in for a bit of a cold snap. I wrote in the last post about why the weather has been so warm and when it’s going to change; in this post I want to look at how that can affect our beloved gardens. There have been loads of reports of plants blooming out of season (click this link to see a BBC interview with the head of the Kew Arboretum), and we’ve heard about the woes of fruit farmers not getting enough “chill time” for their plants; but how can it affect you?
Well… because some plants have been blooming early, they could be killed by a drop in temperature and fail to reflower in the spring.
How does the cold affect plants?
Of course, there are many different types of plants and with it, many different levels of hardiness, but here are a few of the different effects that cold can have on plants.
- Water can freeze inside the plant’s cells causing it to expand and destroy the plant from the inside.
- Water can freeze on the outside a plant causing desiccation (drying out).
- Decreased enzyme activity.
- Changes in the fluidity of cellular membranes.
This means that any plants tricked into thinking spring has come early, are highly vulnerable over the next few months. Unfortunately, this could have a trickle-down effect on the whole garden ecosystem – without plants flowering at the correct time there could be a significant lack of available food and pollen for insects. European Honey Bees, which have famously been dropping in number, could have an even tougher time this spring.