Late Frost Damages Plants

By Lauren Wanko

Lots of winter-weary New Jerseyans thought we were past this snow, but this morning frost covered newly planted pansies, green grass and just about everything that reminds us of summer.

“I woke up and it’s cold and there’s ice on the steps and the car is covered. It was just disappointing and sad,” said Neptune Township resident MaryRuth Crelin.

Today most parts of the state didn’t hit 50 degrees. Blame it on a very strong cold front.

“Strong west, northwest winds were basically pumping all this cold air from Canada, much like any cold front, the cold air tends to come from that region, but the fact there is still a lot of snow in parts of Canada, there’s a lot more cold air up there then usual,” said Greg Heavener.

“It’s just an early season setback that I didn’t want to have happen,” said grower Jason Austin.

Last night’s frost shriveled RareFind Nursery’s April blooming rhododendrons. These plants won’t bloom again until next season.

“You wait 11 months and three weeks for this and then it gives in two days instead of giving us a 10-day flower window. You got nothing now,” Austin said.

Last night, Austin was able to move many of the nursery’s potted plants inside their greenhouses to protect them from the frost. He plans on keeping many of their flowering shrubs here for the rest of the month.

Still Austin couldn’t protect the plants in the garden.

“This is a 25- to 30-year-old rhododendron. The whole thing is frosted. So what was a $25 [CHECK THIS NUMBER] rhododendron isn’t gonna be bought by anyone this year,” Austin said.

Business won’t take a significant hit though, says Austin, since most of his customers are experienced gardeners who realize the frost didn’t kill the plant, it just the ruined the bloom. But after last night’s chilly temperatures, annuals and tropical plants may not have survived. As for the Garden State’s crops, the Department of Agriculture tells NJTV News because of the long winter and chilly spring, there were mostly no blooms to freeze.

As for Crelin, she moved all her hanging plants inside. “It needs to be warm,” she said.

Tonight Crelin may even light a fire. She may need it. Temperatures are expected to be at or below freezing overnight through tomorrow morning. But there is a silver lining. This weekend’s expected to hit the low 60s.