Freeze Warning Could Hurt Fresh Gardens

May 13, 2013 Updated May 13, 2013 at 11:46 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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May 13, 2013 Updated May 13, 2013 at 11:46 PM EDT


Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - A cold snap moving through much of Western New York has those with tender outdoor plants scrambling to protect their precious shrubs from the bitter temperatures.

Experts say it can take just half an hour for frost, which is supposed to set in at around Midnight, to damage or destroy plants.

"I think the nice weather we had last week sort of lulled me into a false sense of security," says Mary Howard, who has a garden. "Now we're having freezing temps and I'm a little bit worried that I'm going to lose some of my produce."

After getting used to temperatures in the 70's, spring started to show. Gardeners started planting flowers and vegetables.

Some plants even began blooming early -- a big problem with the upcoming freeze warning, which is forecasted to last from midnight until eight in the morning on Tuesday.

Experts say annuals and hanging flowers, which are popular Mother's Day gifts, are at high risk for damage by frost.

The most important piece of advice: put a blanket, towel or tarp over sensitive plants.

Experts warn try to avoid plastic, which can actually transfer the cold and hurt plants even more than the frost.

Experts also suggest watering plants about half an hour before the frost hits or moving plants indoors all together.

Kathy Sokolowski, from Menne Nursery in Amherst, suggests if possible, "put them into the garage and keep them warm in there or in the house."

You also need to take care of vegetable gardens. Some plants, such as lettuce, will be okay in these chilly conditions. However, tomatoes, peppers and basil can suffer damage.

Most trees and shrubs should be okay. However, fruit trees or shrubs that are blooming could be damaged as well.

Rose bushes and most perennials should be safe in the cold as well.

Experts warn if you are unsure if a plant will make it through the cold conditions, air on the side of caution and cover it up or take it indoors.