By Avery Newmark for CAES News
While some U.S. regions, such as the Northeast and Midwest, have experienced consistent cold throughout the winter of 2022, the Southeast region, including Georgia, has seen a winter with varied temperatures.
Those unpredictable temperatures, alongside moisture and frost, may have had a direct impact on plant survival, as plants’ ability to thrive or perish is ultimately determined by the weather.
So, what is this winter weather doing to your garden?
Well, it’s been “interesting,” says Pam Knox, director of the University of Georgia Weather Network and agricultural climatologist in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
“We had a cold November, a warm December and most of January,” Knox told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But that’s not an issue here in Georgia. Weather always switches around, it’s very typical to see these wide swings in temperature, and plants are adapted to that.”
So is now a good time to plant for spring? Maybe not so fast.
A good rule of thumb is to plant after the last frost and harvest before the first. Frosts happen when air temperatures dip down between 36 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Guessing when that last frost might come can be tricky, so it’s best to wait to garden for an additional two weeks after the last frost.
“People have to keep in mind the frost date for their location,” according to Knox.
“This is the time of the year where most gardens are normally dormant. But we are seeing early signs of spring, with daffodils blooming and plants running ahead of normal conditions this year. December was very warm, January too, so the plants are thinking it’s spring and they are ready to bloom.”
But, Knox cautions, another snap of cold weather could still be lurking around the next corner.
“The chance of another frost is still very high, but if it remains warm until the end of February, things will start to bloom again,” she says.
If your green thumb is getting itchy with the warm winter weather, Knox says now is the perfect time of year to clean out the plantings you don’t want.
But hold out just a little longer on fresh plantings, she cautions, “Even if we are ahead of normal, you’ll still want to wait because we could still get a late frost.”
Knox recommends visiting walterreeves.com for more Georgia gardener tips and tricks.
For more about home garden planning and planting in the state, see UGA Cooperative Extension Bulletin 577, “Home Gardening,” and the “Home Garden” series.