Warm weather in December, are plants confused?

Holding some dirt.
Holding some dirt.(Jeffrey Lindblom)
Published: Dec. 4, 2021 at 2:47 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Record highs in Rapid City might be prompting you to wear a t-shirt in December. But, the heat affects far more things than what’s in your closet.

For example, what’s in your garden.

“It shouldn’t be doing that,” says Cathie Drain, Rapid City Master Gardener, regarding a plant. “That’s reckless. The garden, at this time of year, should be covered in snow. Sort of, have its jammies on and be ready for the long sleep.”

Instead, she says right now she’d describe it as a beautiful woman “at the end of a long party. You know, the make up is beginning to fade. You can see that there’s a hint of beauty there in what it could be, but the garden is tired and it wants to rest.”

She says the temperature fluctuations contribute to that, because she says, “It’s tough on the garden.”

She has there’s two things that keep her garden in good shape despite the weather.

“Number one, I mulch heavily. You have to protect the soil. You have to put a snowsuit on.”

With drought, the mulch helps keeps the soil moist.

“The second thing I’m grateful for is that my husband will let me hook up the hose, and I’ll water as long as my husband lets me. But, I’ll keep the hose out here and water until I have to dig it out of a snowbank, literally.”

She says years ago she had a great piece of advice.

“Specifically in weather in like this.”

For trees, because she says they’re at great risk.

“Looky,” she says as she looks at one of the trees in her garden, “they’re putting out their buds and leaves for next year.”

She says you want to water them now, and that water freezes.

“So, that as the soil warms slowly in the Spring, that moisture is available for the trees.”

“Am I concerned about the temperature? Absolutely. What am I most concerned about, the drought. Water the garden,” says Draine.

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