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How to take care of your plants during 'Dogwood Winter'

40-year-gardener Jeff Hunley shared tips for bold gardeners taking on “Dogwood Winter”.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — Employees at More Than Plants in Jefferson County cover their inventory to protect them from a potential overnight freeze.

Manager Ted Hunley said the turbulent spring temperatures in East Tennessee make gardening a bigger chore than it already is.

"Everybody jumps in and gets excited about it being spring, and they want to plant stuff and get out in their yards and work,” he said. “But sometimes we just need to wait."

Hunley said a common misconception among novice gardeners is that the cold temps kill the plants, but it is not that simple.

"Plants can handle the cold temperatures and 30 degrees, but the frost with the ice on the plants will damage it or turn it black," he said. 

If you jumped the gun on gardening, there are some things you can do to protect them.

  • First, bring any potted plants and flowers inside when there is an expected freeze overnight.
  • Cover any plants you cannot bring inside with a sheet or a bucket.
  • If you do not have enough sheets you can also cover your plants with plastic, but you will need to wake up early to remove it.

"If you've covered with plastic, make sure the next day you take that plastic off early before the sun comes out,” Hunley said. “The plastic will get too hot and damage the plants more than the frost would."

For any bold gardeners looking to brave “Dogwood Winter”, Hunley recommended sticking to lettuce and cabbage and advised against planting tomatoes and veggie plants until late April or early May.

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