Hard Winter? Not According to Plants!

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Hard Winter? Not According to Plants!

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

It’s the talk of Kansas City: when is it going to warm up? Well, I doubt this cheers anyone up but this uniformally cold weather has actually been good for most landscape plants. I’ll be the first to admit I miss our old manic-depressive winters — you know: 70F one day, then zero or below within just a few days. Well that up-and-down, roller coaster ride of weather is hard on lots of plants, especially broadleaf evergreens. This winter has also had no record cold temperatures — big “whew” with this weather pattern because it could have been much worse. Most zone 6 plants are just fine (it’s not dropped below -10F) and if you live in the urban core of the city and old suburbs, it hasn’t even dropped below zero in most places!

The evergreen Southern Magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) near the visitor center have leaf burn on their south sides but no worse than average. Those in the sunniest spots are even more brown (Bracken’s Brown Beauty Magnolia really looks like its name) but the leaves and stems aren’t killed and will recover quickly when spring decides to arrive.



Conifers out the north end of the Visitor Center show a variety of colors and textures and only the golden ‘Chief Joseph’ pine (Pinus contorta) has burned needles on its south side (right side of this image) — but it does that every year for us. We forgive it for this short window of imperfection in late winter into early spring because it is so beautiful most of the year.

The American Holly (Ilex opaca) out the north wing of the Visitor Center is sparkly green but its red berries were darkened by the below zero weather in January (you can click on the image to enlarge it and see the berries). No leaf burn at all on American holly.

The greenhouse production for spring is growing exponentially and the spring foliage crop of frost and freeze tolerant cabbages and kales is a sea of various textured greens. Hard to believe its less than a month until some of this gets planted outdoors.


I plan on a blog about the cold and frost tolerant spring flowers as soon as they are looking their best to photograph. Here Eric Perrette is deadheading begonias masked by some summer foliage production. The sea of cabbages in the foreground are looking great!
The seasonal planting beds around the Visitor Center and in Heartland Harvest Garden are scheduled for planting beginning March 15, weather permitting. Anne Wildeboor (Horticulturist- Seasonal Displays and Events) has selected 78 varieties of flowers and foliage for the spring in the 16 beds around the Visitor Center. Matt Bunch (Horticulturist — Heartland Harvest Garden) has selected over 100 varieties of cool weather, frost tolerant vegetables for the spring display in the Heartland Harvest Garden. A blog will follow on those selections as well. Mark your calendar for March to see all these literally cool plants that give us an early start with spring.