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Protecting Your Plants During Winter's Wild Temperature Fluctuations

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Six more weeks of the winter we've had so far may not be too bad.

It's been mild by all accounts. But while many of us are loving the weather, plants on the other hand, are a little confused.

Some flowers are already blooming.

According to the calendar, it's Feb. 2; but looking outside, that's hard to believe between the above average temperatures and no snow.

In fact, the weather has been so spring-like even the flowers are a bit thrown off.

Already some tulips planted by KDKA meteorologist Dennis Bowman's wife, Debbie, are sprouting.

"I just hope they are going to be okay," said Debbie. "I'm not 100 percent sure they are going to make it and I just planted them, so I hope they do."

A lot of people are seeing the same; flowers popping up ahead of schedule.

"I've never seen it like this in my 20 years of gardening," said Pittsburgh Post-Gazette garden guru Doug Oster. "I've never seen stuff come up this early."

So, what can you do to protect your plants should frigid winter decide to arrive?

"You actually do more damage if you try to get out there and start covering things because you're going to destroy that foliage," said Oster. "The best thing to do is just wait it out and see what happens."

You shouldn't cover your plants; Oster says the best thing to do is absolutely nothing.

"When things come up, usually they are just sending up their foliage - their leaves - and they are just saying, 'Hey, what's going on here; is it time to bloom?' But the bud is still underneath, so if it does get really cold, then all you've got is those leaves up and there's nothing to worry about it," says Oster.

If the actual bud comes up and freezes, you'll likely won't see flowers this year.

But, that doesn't mean your plant's life is ruined, Oster says you should be in good shape the following season.

So, at this point, the best advice is don't worry because you can't control Mother Nature.

"Plants have been doing this for hundreds of years, and so they know what they are doing and for the most part just about everything is going to be fine," he said.

Doug Oster's Blog
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