The Butchart Gardens posted this picture to Facebook on Monday after Sunday’s snowfall. “The forecast calls for more snow soon. Are you ready?” they said. (Facebook)

Vancouver Island blooms hurt by drop in temperature

Plants can be protected with burlap sacks

Those early blossoms Vancouver Islanders were bragging about last week may struggle to cope with the chilly temperatures now blowing across the Island, but they should survive the drop in temperature.

Brian Starzomski, University of Victoria environmental studies professor, said the mild weather that preceded the cold snap could be the real kicker for some of the region’s more delicate flora and fauna.

“Any gardener would know that heavy frost or a cold spell like this can be really problematic for blooms and early starting plants,” he said. “It can certainly kill them and slow down the blooms on certain susceptible species.”

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But it’s the warmer, spring-like weather that came before the first snowfall on Sunday that will make things even harder for local plants.

“There’s lots of research out there to show that sometimes plants do run the risk of getting into a little bit of trouble if there’s a warm spell that causes them to bloom,” Starzomski said. “They become susceptible to getting injured if there’s then a cold spell like the one we’re in.”

“It’s variability in temperatures that can be the real problem.”

Gardeners can protect some of their plants by covering them with burlap sacks or ground cloth. Potted plants can be moved indoors to basements or garages until the cold weather comes to an end.

Still, Starzomski says Victoria plants should pull through.

“I think plants are pretty robust and this is not too terrible and they will survive pretty well,” he said.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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