SOUTHERN UTAH — The mild temperatures in the Washington County area are a big draw for most, with winter climates not as cold as Salt Lake City, and summer climates not as hot as Las Vegas, Nevada.
This particular area allows for the survival of many different kinds of trees, plants and shrubs, but when winter temperatures fluctuate between warm and freezing, it can take a toll on plant buds.
“We’re not really Salt Lake’s climate and we’re not really Las Vegas climate, we’re kind of somewhere in-between,” degreed arborist Mark Hodges, owner and operator of Arbor Tech in St. George, said. “Here we are having things blossom out, and it’s about a month and a week early.”
This early blossoming can be highly damaging to plants and trees if temperatures drop back into freezing levels. Blossomed buds could be destroyed and some plants may not have enough energy to grow new ones.
Though there are things plant owners can do to offer support to their trees, Hodges said, there isn’t really an easy solution to the problem.
“Unfortunately, there’s not really much we can do,” Hodges said. “We can … make sure we’re having proper fertilization and watering and care for those trees, they’re going to need even more because of that stress.”
In addition, people should avoid pruning their trees and shrubs if the buds have already blossomed.
Pruning at this point would only damage plant health, Hodges said. If you must, prune a minimal amount and then wait until plants re-enter dormancy.
Area residents looking to plant new trees and shrubs should take into consideration whether it is a warm or cold climate plant, and place it accordingly.
Sloan Harlin, floor supervisor at Star Nursery in St. George, educates customers on appropriate information needed for their new plants to thrive.
“Everybody comes in and just buys stuff based off what they like,” Harlin said. “But there’s certainly plants that have a hard time with the cold and then there’s plants that have a hard time with the sun.”
The best thing to know, Harlin said, is what climate the plant thrives in, and then make sure to place it in an area where it will receive the right amount of sun, or, alternatively, the right amount of shade.
“Consulting an arborist or someone that has some background in plants and asking them, you know, where to plant them, goes a long way.” Hodges said.
About Mark Hodges
Hodges won an entrepreneurial contest at Dixie High School, in his youth, being awarded $3,000 for running his own professional tree service. That tree service is ongoing today. As his business developed, he went on to work for the City of St. George as the City Forester, obtained his degree in arboriculture (the study of trees) from Dixie College, continued his personal career and expertise obtaining the title of master gardener, receiving his UNLA certification (certified nursery man, he said) and so it goes. He has taught classes and seminars on plants and things of this nature, and has served on the Shade Tree Board for the City of St. George, among other things.
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- Don’t let your trees freeze; arborist offers advice – 2014
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