How low can you go?

In early January, record lows were observed throughout the country. In Birmingham, the record all-time low was -6F, set in 1985, temps dropped to 7F in my neighborhood.

I moved some of my trees to the garage; those that had been wired recently, or were in pots I didn’t want to break. The rest were mulched in under the benches or sitting on the ground.

As an unscientific experiment, I left one shimpaku in the garage, one on the bench, and one on the ground. I wanted to see how they responded over time. With cold weather safely behind us…Here are some photos I braved 8F to photograph as part of my unscientific experiment, followed by a few spring shots, nearly 5 months later. I am pleased to report that no trees were harmed during this experiment.
On the bench in January:

Still kicking in April:


On the ground at 7 degrees F:

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 67 degrees F:


The white pines and ezo spruce stayed right in the benches for the single digits:

Now, happily growing:


Broadleaf evergreens’ leaves curl in protest. Particularly the azaleas, gardenias, and (pictured below), camellias:

In Spring:


Junipers turn a bronze-purple, always very unusual, and alarming to the uninitiated!



The bronze color of the itoigawas shows well:

And a few months later, bright green in Spring:

A kishu shoot (left), whose color hasn’t changed, next to an Itoigawa shoot (right) that went very bronze. Normally, it’s much brighter green than the kishu.

Best I can find in researching and observing is that the response is to protect the tree from the cold and/or transpiring whole roots are frozen. It appears to be a withdrawal of chlorophyll, similar to leaves changing color in fall. An additional observation:

Junipers from colder climates (Itoigawa, Eastern Red Cedar) display greater change than those from warmer climates (Kishu, Torulosa).

Any more scientific details would be appreciated!

Remember to come see us at the ABS Spring a Show today and tomorrow!



2 thoughts on “How low can you go?

  1. great experiment, scientific or not scientific. I live in Iowa where the average lows are too low to calculate. From now on my trees are staying OUT! 🙂 thanks….

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